The pandemic has been disturbing and disengaging for all of us, especially for the students. The obstructions in the smooth functioning of the educational process have been profound and the uncertainties in student learning still remain persistent as even after almost one and a half years of online education, both students and educators yearn for their regular classroom transactions i.e., face-to-face teaching-learning. However, as the current situation doesn’t seem to get normal any sooner, and for the safety of people in general and students in particular, it would be a necessity if not an obligation, to continue with the online mode of education. But despite the challenges, it is important for educators to search for ways to keep students motivated and enthusiastic and engage them in deeper and continuous learning. Some of the ways for engaging students in learning are suggested below-
- First and foremost, it is important to make students feel welcome in the class- by smiling at them, greeting and/or returning their greetings with their names, and thank them for showing up in the class. It is also necessary to have an informal conversation to build up a rapport with them.
- Secondly, it is essential to build strong relationships with students by investing time and energy in knowing them better. Talking to students about things other than contents and courses is equally required as it gives students a feeling that they matter and that their problems, concerns, and issues are also important to their teachers. Teachers should also share their lived experiences with students to assure them that they too would overcome what they are going through. A follow-up is a must so that students don’t feel that teachers don’t really care about what they shared with them.
- The third thing to focus on is communicating with students and listening to them. In an online class, it is very difficult to know that students are actually engaged in the class at all times. Instances of students simply logging in to the class, turning off their audio and video, and then doing something else is very common. To avoid this situation, teachers must constantly interact with students while teaching to know that students are paying attention and understanding the concepts well. Students must be given time to think and respond and teachers must patiently listen to them and add to their responses if required. Teachers must also tell the students about ways to self-regulate their learning and avoid distractions.
- Fourthly, students feel engaged if given interesting and creative assignments and assessments. Conventional practices that involved reading the texts, cramming, or simply copy-pasting the contents from multiple sources would just not work for today’s digitalized teaching-learning. There is a need for such assignments and assessments which are relevant to students’ lives, involve hands-on with minds-on, and give them opportunities to go beyond the usual trends of working individually and collaboratively.
- Fifth and last, teachers must give constructive feedback to the students which is timely and action-oriented; something which motivates students to work upon; and makes them learn the art of self-learning- a skill that is important to learn more than anything else in this rapidly changing scenario of education. Other engaging practices for effective student learning include but are not limited to teachers’ active participation, their sense of humor, ice-breaking sessions, musical sessions, presentations with pictures and graphics, motion pictures, short activities, reflecting upon experiences, choices in exploring the contents for assignments and the way of presenting them, etc.
In the end, it must be kept in mind that as we intend to keep our students engaged in learning, our efforts must focus on providing meaningful and joyful learning experiences that orient them for self-paced and individualized learning which is not only vital at the moment but will also lead to effective student learning.