eLearning Strategies

10 Ways To Increase Participation In Your Online Course

8 min
group of people with laptops laughing

Good news! Your course is live, and you have already secured a few enrollments.
But, learners don’t return to complete your online course.

Why is this happening and, most importantly, how can you fix it?

Student engagement is the key. If your students are not engaged, they won’t return to your course, they will most probably not even take the next online course from you, and they won’t even suggest your course. Word of mouth matters and it can make or break your course business.

The most difficult battle for an online instructor, regardless of whether they provide synchronous or asynchronous learning, isn’t to create an online course, but to create an online course that offers a unique and personalized learning experience. Failing to do so might quickly result in low student participation.

Your learners may come from diverse backgrounds, demographics, age groups, and many different walks of life. Your challenge is to provide them with a personalized learning experience that they can relate to. This will also help you increase learner participation.

Our focus in this blog post is to provide you with a set of actionable tips and ways that you can put into direct use, enhancing and facilitating your students’ learning and boosting active participation.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Learning Platform

First things first. If you haven’t yet done so, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the learning management system (LMS) you use. Doing so can help you tackle problems more easily and get into a position where you can give out valid advice and guidance to students who ask for it.

Most learning management systems have their own product features and capabilities that will help you with the course design of your online course content. Invest some time to get to know these features and test them out.

Check out all the options you have for creating course materials. For example, LearnWorlds provides a rich collection of interactive learning activities, such as Multimedia, Live Sessions, Questionnaires, and Certificates.

You can create an eye-catching interactive ebook using the platform’s responsive templates. Your users will love the reading experience, as well as the highlighting and notetaking tools.

Also, see if there is an option for discussion forums that will help you build a learning community.

Albert Einstein once said:

‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’

And this is exactly what we are going for here.

Don’t expect learners to know their whereabouts with their online class the first time. Instead, go the extra mile and give out directions on where to find the learning material your students need to have access to.

A great introduction to your school is to show your online learners how to contact you and get feedback, navigate the courses and use the discussion board in the online learning environment you offer them.

2. Set Goals and Learning Outcomes for Your Online Course

Avoid making the mistake of starting work without setting your learning objectives in place. No matter what you have built for your school so far, it’s essential to have a look through what you have and – why not, come up with new learning goals that give a better sense of purpose and direction.

Without setting learning objectives for your online teaching, you run the risk of not achieving anything. Make sure that you take time out to draft the exact learning outcomes you want your learners to acquire. Always keep your learners in the center of your focus and aim for student satisfaction.

Be clear about the goals as soon as possible, as it will keep you focused and help you in better planning and implementing a successful learning experience.

These learning goals are tied well with students’ participation, as it helps them understand what kind of engagement you expect from them. Unless you let them know, they won’t know. Remember that you are providing distance learning, so face-to-face student interaction is not always there.

Spend some amount of time to answer the following questions first:

Once you figured these out, share them with your students to ensure that you are always on the same page. Always be aligned with your online learners.

3. Get Feedback

Approach your students and get feedback. Learn why your students love or ignore your course and what you could do to improve it.

You can create a course evaluation survey and ask your students to complete it. You might need to revisit your material or the way you approach the students.

LearnWorlds makes it easy to build a magnificent feedback form that your students will love! With 16 different question types, powerful file upload options, and webcam capture capability.

You can also customize all aspects of your student’ survey with tagging based on answers or devise your own customized set-up for whatever information you need from them most – whether it is about what subjects they’re interested in learning more about.

4. Come Up With a Clear Syllabus

It is easy to build on student engagement when students know where they are at, at all times. Coming up with a clear online course syllabus that tells them what your course is about can help students be prepared. A syllabus can lay out a lesson plan giving students an idea of what each class will cover. This increases the chances to get a better retention rate for your online course.

Creating a storyboard will help you get your thoughts down and then present them to your students as a course summary or outline.

5. Conduct Webinars With Small Groups

Distance education doesn’t have to be impersonal. You can create small discussion groups of 3 to 5 people that are easy to follow, will motivate learners to use critical thinking, and will allow students to open up more freely.

As opposed to creating a webinar of 10 to 15 people, a smaller group is easier to handle and will encourage more discussion topics and debate.

This alone increases student participation as it builds on excitement and gives the opportunity to more students to voice and exchange opinions, share thoughts, and pose their own questions as you deliver the online class.

6. Reward Your Students

Rewarding your students can be effective, regardless of whether you are teaching children or adults. One way to do this is by offering a certificate that always looks good on a CV. A student with a goal is more likely to come back and chase it.

There are also a number of simple ways to acknowledge and reward your students during the e-learning process. For example, you can give praise or a big thumbs up to the first learner that responds back to your question on a public online discussion. This will also encourage others to chip in.

Rewarding your students can include small and simple acts of appreciation or they can be as big as:

Be creative and keep them informed about the prize so they can work towards the goal!

7. Provide Ongoing and Prompt Feedback

Feedback is a great pedagogical approach in online education and a critical component of any educational experience. It should aim towards and be capable for improvement in students’ learning, as well as provide useful information on how they can improve their performance going forward.

Every time you ask students to complete an assignment or simply do a task, be quick enough to get back to them. Following up is all about being quick to provide feedback and is crucial to avoid making students feel that you are ignoring them.

Allow yourself time to actually go through students’ responses, be ready to understand why they made mistakes, and come up with ways to explain to them what went wrong. Don’t just give out a grade that can’t describe the whole summit of the hard work they have done.

Make sure to provide insightful feedback through comments that help them grow and learn from their mistakes. Educational research shows that when students are getting enough feedback about their work, they are more likely to stay engaged throughout the course and complete it.

8. Make Use of Multiple Learning Methods

It’s never too late to try out different learning techniques but if nothing pops into mind, you are not the only one. In fact, even university professors sometimes struggle to come up with methods that make learning more interactive.

Jenny Pickerill, professor at the University of Sheffield admits on Times Higher Education:

I learn best myself through doing, but, perhaps due to residual fear, I still struggle to make my lectures as interactive as my seminars. I encourage questions, use quizzes and set group tasks, but I am in awe of colleagues who teach in more participatory ways.

At the same time, Dr. S. John Tregoning, senior lecturer at the Imperial College of London, says:

Visual jokes can work. I love cartoons and have tried to use them from a range of sources (Piled Higher and Deeper, Sketching Science, and @redpenblackpen all being favorites). But…memes work better. Since they come with a preloaded meaning, they tick the shared common ground box.

What we can take out of these experiences is that the use of memes and jokes can outrun what you currently are familiar with such as puzzles, quizzes, and other types of gamified learning – which by the way no one denies being effective.

But instead of sticking to those instructional methods that have become the norm, you can try changing the rules of the game through the combination of the effective use of text, video, audio, multimedia, engaging graphics, or screencasts along with a twist of humor.

9. Keep in Touch With the Students

As studies have shown, most online students crave attention and communication when it comes to online learning. This shows that they need to be fed constantly with useful and effective discussion, feedback, and advice.

The key here is being consistent and responsive while logging into your school regularly – if not daily. Showing up tells students that you are always there for them whenever they need your support and guidance.

An excellent way to do this is building an online community, or checking 1:1 conversation with your students upon a scheduled time (every week/month) that you mutually decide on.

Even a simple welcome email letting them know you are available if they have any questions can work perfectly for increasing participation.

10. Get on Social Media and Build Relationships

The majority of instructors give priority to building their online school and then setting up a social profile. They create new streams for communications with students as they get more serious about starting up in the industry, but some may not even have an account yet!

Social media marketing is an extremely powerful tool to equip your student engagement toolkit with. You can use social media for so many things! You could start a Facebook page or group, post on Instagram and Twitter with the goal of reminding students about your online course.

You might also want to answer students’ questions (or give mini-lessons) in each platform’s specific space- which means that all members within this community will stay up-to-date.

Ideally, you want your online school to gain better student participation and to a greater extent increase your visibility, reputation, and credibility as a teacher.

The Ball Is in Your Court!

You now have a set of actionable tips and ways that you can put into direct use, enhancing and facilitating your students’ learning. Use them well to boost active participation, student engagement, and better learning outcomes.

Remember, it is not only about the content or subject matter that you teach; how you engage with your students also makes all the difference in the world! How will you apply these principles to increase student engagement in your courses?

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Content Creator at LearnWorlds

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.