We are all beginning to see all sorts of research trying to improve student engagement in online learning experiences. While some sites are doing a great job, others are lackluster and looking for solutions.
Student Engagement In Online Learning What Works And Why
When most people think of online learning, they don’t tend to think about teens. However, the demands for higher education online are for anyone with the drive to go beyond the classroom and the means to afford the courses. Teens must have access to high-quality materials and engage with professors in a meaningful way to succeed in an online course.
Teens are especially vulnerable to online education because they are so confused about social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Since online learning isn’t connected to these traditional social platforms, some young people feel left out. While adult online learning classes sometimes include social media, it can make them feel like a waste of time.
Online learning has gained popularity because of the flexibility it provides and how many students can take advantage of it, regardless of where they are. Like many other programs, online learning can help students of all ages graduate and reach their career goals. However, some high schoolers still struggle with it, as only about 20% of young people graduate high school. Younger students are the most vulnerable to online learning because they come from lower socio-economic backgrounds, rely on family support for their education, or are not comfortable with digital technology.
Research shows that certain technologies improve adolescent engagement in online learning:
As stated above, the main reason teens struggle with online learning is not their lack of confidence, but rather their feelings of isolation from others online. Students would benefit from technology like SnapChat, Google Hangouts, and these types of voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phones. In the research conducted by the Center for a New American Dream (CNAS), students were invited to keep a journal during their online learning. During this writing period, they could initiate conversations with students in the peer support group. This allowed students to build a sense of social engagement. Students also consistently wrote to the computer, spending time with the online experience and actually having conversations.
Visual and text-based communication tools could be used on smartphones and tablets by students. These tools would help encourage online learning when a student isn’t comfortable writing. If that happens, they would find free phone calls or photos/videos to join the conversation. Additionally, websites like NextSpace, Squidoo, Tumblr, and Flickr make it easy to have multimedia conversations.
Motivational tools could help students overcome challenges to online learning, such as having a connection to their peers and having the opportunity to make lasting connections. While more success should come from actual interaction, online learning can offer an online-based bridge to allow student to get that engagement. Using social media outlets like Instagram and Snapchat, students could highlight their studies and conduct group discussions. Using these tools can help students build a digital network that can provide ongoing support and encouragement.
Although online learning can help young people meet their goals of graduating and receiving a job, there are some areas where it shouldn’t be used. Social media use is still too distracting and engaging. Student financial information should also be used in an accurate way. Simply uploading a photo of a resume or new computer will not generate a perfect image. The student should look closely at their profile to determine if the information is accurate. Also, the student’s academic status should not be discussed in online forums.
The assumption that online learning is for all students has been greatly underestimated. It’s important for teachers to figure out what works best for the students. At the same time, educators and other successful digital workers can provide online skills, including communication, web design, technology, branding, management, and other areas such as financial planning and market analysis. It’s important for students to develop their own awareness and understand what is the best option for them. After students have made this decision, schools and employers should have the framework to accommodate the students.