Remote learner engagement: 3 crucial elements

When it comes to remote delivery, sticking to differentiation and remembering that less is more are key, says Kate Watts

Kate Watts

Online learning: Three crucial elements for student engagement

As the lockdown continues, teachers up and down the country are tasked with capturing and maintaining learner engagement during this period of online delivery.

There is also the added pressure for learners to produce the same quality of work as they did in the classroom. And it could be easier to achieve than you think... 

Online learning: Less is more

Depending on the level and ability of the learners you are teaching, having less on your lesson plan could be more productive – at least until your learners become accustomed to remote learning again. There is nothing wrong with being optimistic and planning a complete lesson that covers every inch of a topic, but do not be downhearted if you simply do not get through all the content. You are not lowering your expectations; you are simply giving your learners time to adjust.


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In my experience of teaching GCSE English resits, both in the classroom and online, mini subtasks that develop their skills and help to build their answers step by step not only help with their engagement, but also improve the quality of their work. Building towards a main activity over a short period of time can (sometimes) spark their curiosity and keep them working for that bit longer.

Differentiation

Just like in the classroom, abandoning differentiation in an online environment will only make your learners less likely to engage and participate in the lesson. It may seem impossible to achieve online, but there are simple strategies you can implement that could make all the difference.

What about reading a text to your learners or setting different tasks/questions tailored to their ability? Could you complete part of a maths question but leave some blank areas for the learners to solve themselves? If you need some more inspiration, seek some support from someone in your team or ask your line manager.

Resources

Are you a teacher who has struggled to embed ICT or utilise exciting new apps/technology in your teaching? Now is your chance. There are some fantastic online tools such as Google Forms, Padlet, Lynx and many more that could revolutionise your online delivery and keep your learners engaged.

I am a huge fan of Kahoot! quizzes, which work just as well online as they did in the classroom and they are great for a variety of subjects. You can search for quizzes by topic or create your own. Do not blame me if your learners demand to do Kahoots for the whole lesson!

What about those learners who do not have access to an electronic device and therefore cannot access your online lessons? Speak to your line manager about your concerns. They may be able to offer a solution that you did not think was possible, such as sending work home by post.

Kate Watts is an FE lecturer at a London college

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