As universities across the UK revert to online learning as the sole medium of instruction at a time when 'lockdown fatigue' kicks in, student engagement could not be more important.
In our recent blog, we identify key tips for Lecturers and Tutors to consider when addressing the question: How to I keep my students engaged during a second lockdown?
1. Monitor Engagement Data
As a first step, look at your engagement data. This can range from attendance at lectures, seminars, and workshops through to task completion rates and late-submission requests. It will give you an overall picture of what's working and what's not.
In both our Edubooks and Management Simulations, Lecturers benefit from viewing engagement and completion data with the material. They are able to monitor the number of assignments and quizzes completed and the time spent on the material to date. This enables Lecturers to intervene where student engagement is low and/or address performance issues on such quizzes and assignments.
2. Support Students' Wellbeing
Robert Batt's article in The Telegraph on 25 January 2021, highlighted the 'student mental health crisis' as a consequence of Covid-19. He referred to a study of students' unions by The Recovery Clinic where '...76.8 per cent' of students admitted '...to dealing with anxiety and worries'. This worrying statistic highlights just how important it is to check-in with your students. This doesn't have to be frequently but where engagement data is low, it can serve as an indicator that something may not be right and where concerns of your students' wellbeing are raised, refer them to your university's central support systems, such as counselling. A joined-up approach of support ensures students firstly recognise their University staff care about their wellbeing and know exactly what support is available to them and how they can access it.
Empathy for your students will live long in the memory.
3. Learn in 'Chunks'
Break-down your lesson times into shorter sessions. Many universities when moving to online instruction simply lifted their existing schedule and placed it online. This is fine provided enough adequate breaks are in place during the classes for students to digest information and let's face it, get away from their desk for a bit! Online learning need not to be at the expense of concentration if enough 'chunking' of tuition and tasks are scheduled.
This ethos of 'chunking' learning activities lies within the design of our Edubooks. Rather than rely on students to read swathes and swathes of pages before attempting exercises, our Edubooks summarise key concepts and theories and then test students' understanding of them in 'chunks' rather than whole chapters. This ensures students aren't burdened by huge reading tasks and are able to digest information and test their own understanding as they move through the course material.
It's nice to know you're on the right track! And if not you can rectify that earlier in the learning process.
4. Champion Independent Learning - Remote Learning meet Remote WorkingAs we know both lockdowns forced not just universities to revert to remote learning and working but many other industries, as well. Besides a few teething problems ('you're on mute'), many have adapted to the environment and companies proudly state 'remote working opportunities' on staff recruitment drives. This means whilst students may be learning remotely and working more independently than before, that may not change much when they graduate and enter the labour market.
Championing students to become independent learners in this environment will hold them in good stead for future employment.
5. Play Games!
Games? Seriously? This is an academic institution!
Yes, it is. But incentivised learning games provide students with opportunities to engage with valuable content with the premise of reward if targets are met - not so different from the business world, right?
At Edumundo, we've created a suite of management simulation 'games' which enable students to work in teams to create start-up brands, determine company strategies, redevelop failing companies, invest in company departments, and monitor income and expenditure. Their decisions affect how well the company performs in each round (typically equivalent to one year or a quarter). Enabling students to work more interactively with each other ensures students socialise more and gain valuable team-working skills together with their own independent learning (as per Tip 4 above). Our Operations and Customer Success teams monitor throughout to provide any tips and advice necessary during the 'rounds' of each simulation so students aren't left unsupported.
"I thought the idea of using a simulation was brilliant as I was able to work with other students and carry out a business strategy that has aspects very similar to the current business environment giving us an insight into the effects of good and bad strategy and what we had to do to overcome these problems."
Undergraduate Student from the University of Durham
Student Engagement App
More recently, we've launched the HE College Coins app. Specifically designed to promote socialisation, involvement, and motivation at a distance. Our app helps students engage with fellow students, university and department related activities, as well as small course assignments with the objective of earning 'coins' for each activity completed. These 'coins' could then be used as transferrable vouchers for course-related purchases such as books and articles...or if you're feeling generous even some Amazon vouchers.
However which way you choose to engage with your students, we hope that your academic institution thrives in this new online environment. We're here to help you deliver the online courses you desire, catered to your curriculum and student engagement objectives.
Batt, R 'Covid has intensified the student mental health crisis - universities must step up' published on: 25th January 2021; accessed on 02/02/2021 via: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education-and-careers/2021/01/25/covid-has-intensified-student-mental-health-crisis-universities