Getting students to engage in a lesson today is a challenge due to several factors. Because of these factors, schools are including more technology in their classrooms and diversifying lessons with games, videos, and educational apps. It’s also why more students are turning to e-learning. In this article, we’ll cover what e-learning is and tips for creating engaging e-learning content.
What is E-Learning?
E-learning is known by many names: distance education, distance learning, virtual classroom, online learning, digital learning, and more. It’s the utilization of technologies for teachers and students for educational purposes outside of the physical classroom. Specifically, it’s courses taken over the internet and utilizing various sites and apps for education. E-learning is typically interactive as well, meaning students can converse with one another and with their teachers. These programs can cover a single subject or an entire grade-level curriculum and do not have to be a child’s entire educational experience.
Tips for Preparing Engaging E-Learning Content
It can be difficult for teachers to know how to engage students online, especially since teacher training is centered around a traditional classroom setting. In a traditional classroom, creating engaging content often means involving students in hands-on projects, using games, competitions, group projects, and others. The same can be said for online learning as well—though the process is a bit different. Below are some tips for creating engaging e-learning content for teachers in a virtual classroom.
Whether you’re transitioning from the traditional classroom to an online platform or you’re starting from the beginning using only an online format, it’s important to understand that learning online is different. It’s likely that the current curriculum that teachers have been utilizing isn’t conducive to e-learning-style content. Not to mention, when students work only online, the workload and methods for learning are different. However, the current curriculum doesn’t have to be scrapped entirely—existing material is a very good place to start. Teachers already know what materials students need to learn. So the next steps would be to explore options to suit their learning needs, discover new tools, choose a course format, and take into consideration how the current curriculum fits in. Adapt your lessons to what’s available, and determine what type of format you’d prefer to deliver your content.
Keep It Simple
When you’re in a classroom, students can’t see what’s ahead. Learners take lessons day by day, moment by moment. In this regard, the information they are receiving is broken into small chunks that they can absorb as the lesson progresses. However, online teaching can be vastly different. Students have the opportunity to view the work they have for the entire day, or even weeks at a time, and feel overwhelmed. They’ll see slide after slide of material and pages of reading and independent work. This type of view can easily discourage students from learning and retaining information.
Instead, keep things as simple and interactive as possible. If applicable, simply give bullet points, and then record videos of yourself going into detail on each topic. Start with the basics of what students need and provide links to other resources for more information if they’d like to further their knowledge. You don’t want to skimp, but try to limit the workload they immediately see, and allow the flexibility to be curious and learn more on their own.
Keep Their Attention
Keeping an entire class engaged is a difficult task, whether you’re in or out of the traditional classroom setting. For students and teachers just entering the e-learning world, it’s important to ensure your content is engaging. Teachers should focus on one subject at a time but include multiple stimulants. This could mean including a short video, adding a quick game or competition or implementing a single-question quiz to ensure they understood the point of the lesson. However, teachers have found it most beneficial to poll students to discover what types of content they prefer and how they learn best.
Some students struggle with a lack of accountability and motivation while enrolled in online learning. This is because they are not surrounded by others engaged in the same activities, which enforces the need for it. When students are at home, it can be difficult to motivate them to attend every online lesson and complete work on their own. Teachers can boost a classroom’s motivation by engaging their psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Students want to feel that they’re able to accomplish tasks correctly, have freedom and control in the classroom, and are somehow connected to others. Educators can easily do this by letting students choose how to review certain subjects, provide feedback, and incorporate some group projects or communication between students.
One of the best things about e-learning is that you can suit the needs of every student. Everyone has their own way of learning, and no single format is going to work for everyone. This is why teachers should include a range of tools to teach the same material in a single lesson. This could include videos of yourself explaining a lesson, reading materials, games, slideshow presentations, tutorials, stories, and more. When you use text, consider highlighting the most important parts on the page to ensure students don’t miss it. Keep videos short and concise so students don’t lose focus. Finally, consider hands-on projects where possible so learning can still feel like an adventure.
Focus on the Goals of the Class
At the beginning of the course, you should ask students what they hope to learn, what they expect to learn, what they are most nervous about, and areas of improvement. You should also work with them to set goals and explain your expectations for the class. By setting these ahead of time, students are able to focus on learning. The entire goal of education is for students to know and be able to do something that they weren’t able to before.
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