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6 ways to keep remote students engaged

After schools shut down across the world, the pandemic has caused some students to start their fall term up to 5 months behind in learning.

To support the incredible work academic staff have been doing through this difficult time, we’ve put together a quick blog capturing 6 simple ways you can increase student engagement while teaching online. 

Make time for social 

One of the major contributors to student struggles is the increased rates of depression and anxiety caused by COVID, including loneliness from social distancing.  

Adding just 5 minutes of social time into your class can help students feel part of a community again, encouraging them to re-kindle friendships and meet new people. A sense of belonging will help them to stay motivated and make it easier to ask for help, too.

Starting conversations can be tough, so break the ice with some fun. Start a weekly challenge such as a Bake Off, meme-athon or even asking everyone to change their zoom backgrounds. 

Set up a work space 

It can be very hard to keep hold of your goals if you’re surrounded by distractions. Setting up a work space can help students keep focused on the bigger picture of where their studies will take them, making it easier to communicate boundaries with flatmates and family around not being disturbed while studying.  

The key to success here is intention, not expense – the edge of a table can be a much more engaging space than a spare room full of fancy office furniture. Encourage your students to feature things that inspire them, such as a photo of where they want to work or live, an inspirational quote poster or even just a plant they’re enjoying growing. If you have time, you could encourage their commitment by sending out weekly wallpapers for their laptops – Unsplash is a great source of free imagery.  

Short, timed, regular tasks 

According to the New York Times, some teachers are reporting that fewer than half of their students are regularly participating in remote learning. 

Harry Fletcher-Wood, a UK-based educator, dealt with this by setting crystal clear goals for students, then building on their curiosity with FOMO (Fear or Missing Out). Short, timed and engaging tasks such as class quizzes or fun but speedy research assignments can get students in gear to have a productive day while increasing a sense of community, growing a sense of common ground and accountability. Quick tasks also help you track the stragglers’ progress before their disengagement starts impacting their grades. 

Less time, more often 

Pre-COVID, a 3-hour lecture on Monday may have brought in great results. However, this timetable now leaves students with no contact at all from Tuesday to Friday. Where possible, why not try breaking larger lessons down into smaller sessions across the week, so that students have their contact time spread out, rather than all in one go. 

Keep in regular contact 

We know this may sound impossible, but regular contact could actually reduce your workload (hear us out)… 

For example, let’s say you know a lot of your students struggle to get going on a Monday morning. Instead of trying to squeeze in time to reach out to them yourself, encourage them to sign up to Tourism Cases’ free weekly newsletter.  

Suddenly, all your students start Monday right by reading inspirational research, with no effort from you. They also have common ground to bond over with their classmates, and you have an ice breaker theme for the beginning of your next class to get them talking. 

Inspire them with real-life examples 

How can to help students to connect the dots between their studies and their long-term career goals – a feat much harder outside of an inspirational campus full of vibrant people.  

Teaching students about real-life examples of responsible tourism changing the world will show them the tangible impacts of their studies, showing them how their work could build a sustainable future. Case studies are a great way to bring real business practices and strategies into the classroom; Tourism Cases offers a wide range of case studies, all written in accessible language and downloadable as pdfs, covering everything from setting up hotels in nature reserves to strategizing sustainable tourism in the Arctic.  

Revolutionize your remote teaching with Tourism Cases – learn more or book a demo with our team here. 

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