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December Issue   

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How to Keep Students Engaged in an Online Course


Students value clarity. Providing clear and specific learning outcomes helps students know what they are doing and why. Interactivities using Articulate Storyline (ask eLTI if you’re interested!), infographics, meaningful images and videos are a great way to encourage students to connect with the course material and demonstrate learning outcomes. Also, dividing the course into conceptually related material (units or weeks), using learning modules in Blackboard, will make lessons easier to understand, navigate and remember.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help design an engaging online course:

Q: How can I engage a diverse cohorts of students?

A: Create an anonymous survey (using Blackboard) at the beginning of the semester to gain a better understanding of your students wants, needs and expectations.


Q: How can I keep my students motivated?

A: Have students make connections between the learning material and how it impacts them or can be used in their daily lives.     


Q: Can Blackboard foster online engagement?         

A: Blackboard can help you facilitate communication and engagement through a variety of methods or "tools." Four of these are described below.


Student Engagement Using Blackboard:

1. Announcements (Blackboard How-To): You can add announcements to each course you teach. Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. Eg. Welcome message, Assessment or Test due date. The announcement can push out the student’s GBC email and student can also access them from inside the course or from their general My Blackboard page. The My Blackboard page aggregates the announcements for each of their courses.


2. Discussion Board (Blackboard How-To): Building a sense of community among students is crucial for a successful online experience. With online discussions, course members can replicate the robust discussions that take place in a traditional classroom. Discussions are a good way to encourage students to think critically about the coursework and interact with each other’s ideas. We can help set up discussion boards!


3. Collaborate (Blackboard How-To): Blackboard’s updated Collaborate is a powerful all-in-one platform that offers an immersive personal experience through your computer, tablet, or mobile device anywhere, anytime. Blackboard collaborate allows you to web conference and connect with one student or your entire class. You and your students can collaborate using audio, video, and recording capabilities. You can also use private and public chat, a whiteboard, application sharing, a clip art library, and add and edit content at any time. With Blackboard Collaborate, you aren't just replicating the face-to-face experience, you're adding a personal touch to online collaboration. Talk to us for more details on using Collaborate!


4. Course Messages (Blackboard How-To): Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within your course between course members. You can add a link to the course menu for immediate access course messages.


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Dear eLTI

Q: What strategies will attract and maintain students' attention online?
A: - Ask questions so that students must devise their own answers
     - Provide feedback in informal exercises including discussions
     - Chunk information into sections that are "digestible" in 15-minute sittings
     - Structure content to convey hierarchies of information
     - Use visual elements to organize ideas (concept maps, graphic organizers)


Q: What strategies will help to keep students motivated?
A: For an instructor very simple but affective steps are:
     - Keep communicating with students – Discussion board, emails,
       messages and clarifications when required must be provided.
       Reply their enquiries within 24 hours.
     - Never hide measurable outcomes – grades from students.
     - Add personalized feedback to students especially in assignments.
     - Make regular announcements – weekly is generally recommended.
     - Reply discussion board threads and offer your strategic support.


Tech Tips


Closed Captioning

Tips for adding closed captioning in PowerPoint

Digi' you know you can add closed captioning in PowerPoint?


Click here for the video instructions.

o Download Sub-titling text add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint (STAMP). Click here.



Additional Resources

PD Place

The office of Organizational and Staff Development supports career-long learning to achieve employee excellence in teaching, learning, leadership, and service delivery.


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