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The interest of students in distance learning classes can be short-lived, if they find themselves bored and disengaged. Considered as one of the drawbacks of online learning, student boredom can be somewhat controlled by the online instructors of these classes. Here are a few suggestions for the instructor to improve the online learning experience for the students.
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Using Technology to Facilitate Online Learning
Of course, the credit goes to technology for facilitating the idea of online learning. Going further, however, a similar aspect can be used to bring enjoyment in the online class and grab every individual student's attention. There are many forms of technology that online instructors at colleges/universities can use to make distance learning classes more lively and productive.
You can prepare slide-show presentations, graphical representations, use various forms of multimedia, and add good-discussion learning materials in order to increase your students' learning potential. Using video chats, live tutorials, simulation programs, RSS feeds, electronic forums, etc. all have taken online learning to the next level.
One good technological example is video streaming, which can help your virtual classroom students to instantly grasp the concept being taught. Search for video links on websites and blogs related to your subject and include these links in your posts. Other useful tools in this direction are webinars, videoblogs or vblogs, teleconferencing, interactive software, and podcasting. Using these mechanisms will ensure that your distance learning classes do not remain text-based only and will result in keeping your students interested in the material.
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Student Collaboration is Always Helpful
You can form student groups and assign projects to the group, rather than to the individual student. Ask them to suggest group project ideas for the classroom. The idea is to trigger their enthusiasm for maximum individual participation and also to build familiarity with their peers. Ask them to include videos and animations in their work to incorporate the fun element. This would undoubtedly raise the bar of learning and catch instant attention. Augmenting the interest of students with group activities has been a time tested tactic in brick and mortar classes; why not try it in online learning too?
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Using Problem-Solving and Case Studies Can Be Fun!
As an online instructor, including small and less complicated problems with a combination of challenging case studies can help achieve the goal of increased student motivation. These catch the attention of the students for a longer period of time and also allow them to understand the concepts better.
In conventional textbooks, there used to be written case studies, although they appeared as big chunks of boring text to the students. However, in the case of online learning, these case studies can take an interesting form with the efforts of the online instructor.
First, study these useful informational pieces and convert them into interesting slides with easy to interpret graphs, tables, and graphics. By spending time on these efforts, you can encourage the students to relate to these case studies resulting in higher levels of learning.
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Encouraging Social Interaction in Distance Learning Classes
Humans are social by nature and we don’t need to elaborate on that. The expert researchers of online learning are of the view that reinforcing social interaction in the online classroom can drastically change the experience. Ask your students to address each other, acknowledge each other’s ideas, help their fellow students, practice good humor and share their expressions in a professional way. After all, students have been doing all this in conventional classroom learning for years.
Online instructors using these suggestions to improve motivation levels of students would definitely benefit and make online learning a pleasant experience for all involved. An online class where the students are able to enjoy themselves consistently, can help an online instructor generate effective discussions for making the learning process simple and successful. Try some of these tips in your distance learning classes to maximize your students learning potential. It is worth taking benefit from these tips to improve the levels of concentration in any virtual class environment.
- How to Make E-learning Interesting; Eric Wilson, Sept. 2002
- The Virtual Professor: Using Discussion Forums & Chat Tools; May, 2008
- What's Your Problem? Increasing Student Motivation and Quality of Participation in Discussions through Problem-Based Learning; Jennifer Gurrie, August 2003
- Michigan Department of Education; Michigan Merit Curriculum; 2006 (PDF Download)