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Top 10 Tips To Make Your Students Effective While Online Studies

Man teaching online in computer. Illustration about E-learning and Online course.

An engaging teaching faculty is behind almost every success story. What’s wrong to suggest that, such an impact oft remains a constant with online teaching lessons? Or are we missing something? Let’s check out the top 10 tips to make your students effective while online studies.

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Has anyone watched A Conference Call In Real Life? Well, to burlesque the weird and stilted dynamics of conference calls, this video demonstrates an entertaining face-to-face setting. People join in by announcing their names. What happens next?

If you haven’t watched it yet, here you go. You’ll recognize the familiar awkwardness of virtual meetings, where the rhythm of conversational interaction is thrown wildly askew by technological hiccups and the absence of visual cues.

The environment of a virtual space isn’t always easy. Although virtual meetings are increasingly common, a majority of teachers find it an odd affair.

How do we keep participants from descending into that peculiar passivity of online study sessions?

And how do you help students fight the constant temptation of momentarily clicking away from class?
While virtual classes are not without their stringy challenges, a few reliable resources have helped us to compile the following list of concrete steps a teacher can take to improve along areas of energy, interaction and productivity.


Information Before Class | Make Your Students Effective | Online Classes

Send a quick email or a 1-3 question survey a day or two before class asking students about their experiences or opinions relevant to the session topic.
For example, “Have you experienced reverse culture shock? Where did it come from, and what was it like?” “What three changes do you think would most improve public education?”.

Collecting information from students in advance will help you prepare appropriate questions and materials. It will also show students that you’re interested in what they have to say, which will help spur discussion in the synchronous environment.

Tell Students What To Expect

Email students before each synchronous session and tell them what topics or questions the session will cover, how they should prepare, and what they’ll be expected to do.

Be as concrete and specific as possible, (e.g., “Please come prepared to … briefly describe your research problem, identify one specific challenge you face vis-à-vis time management, or discuss at least three metaphors used in this book.”)

When students have time to prepare, they are often more invested in the discussion and willing to participate.

And you will feel better about calling on them.


Relevance | Top 10 Tips To Make Your Students Effective While Online Studies

Instructors have all too many claims on their time, and they make constant calculations about where to put their efforts and attention. But, so do students.

Thus, as teachers, it’s always worth asking yourselves:

  • Why should students care about this topic?
  • How is it going to help them answer questions or solve problems that matter to them?

Highlight the answers to those questions with a brief description of the class session (perhaps in your Learning Management System or in a reminder email) that is designed to spark students’ curiosity.
For example, “What are the characteristics of the most and least effective teams you’ve been part of, and what specific things can you do to make the teams you lead function well? We’ll discuss these questions in this week’s synchronous session…”

So far so good, right? Let’s proceed.

Ask Participants To Come With One Burning Question

Something like this should come naturally to your students. Make sure they ask questions about the topic at hand—something that frustrates them, confuses them, or that they want a chance to ask you and/or their classmates.
Start the session off by giving some or (depending on class size) all of your students the opportunity to ask their questions. See what answers or insights the class can provide before answering the question yourself.

You | Top 10 Tips To Make Your Students Effective While Online Classes

Make sure your synchronous session offers novel content, insights, or activities. Avoid duplicating what is covered elsewhere in the course, e.g., readings, videos, discussion boards.

Considering a best-case scenario, students don’t like to miss class for fear of missing something important.

Note (a): Ask participants to always keep their cameras on.

Students don’t always like to have their webcams on, especially if they’re participating from home in their pyjamas.

But showing their faces — and seeing yours — creates a sense of connection and accountability that can help to overcome the disconnectedness that virtual meetings so easily engender. Make it a course expectation that students turn on their cameras (and explain why.)

Note (b): If bandwidth issues arise from too many video feeds, you can always elect to turn them off later.

Do A Quick Social Check-In At The Beginning Of Class

Instead of leaving an awkward silence while students are arriving, use the opportunity to chat.

Ask students what’s new and interesting in their lives, what their holiday plans are, etc. Just as in a physical classroom, some chitchat helps to break down social barriers while creating the expectation of interaction.

You might consider pre-loading a slide that features a current event, cartoon, or trivia question to spark conversation in the minutes before class begins.

A Little Tip

Pose a question and give participants a moment to write. Regular cold calling is an effective technique for holding students accountable, but it can irritate them and erode motivation if it feels like a “gotcha” exercise.

An alternative is to pose a thought-provoking, relevant question and give students a few minutes to write down their thoughts/answers. Again, giving students time to prepare gives you license to call on them without putting anyone on the spot.

Ask questions that require students to pick a side.

When students are asked to state an opinion, they become more invested in discussing it. So, consider asking a content-relevant either/or question, e.g.:

  • “What is more essential to professional success: being organized or being creative?”
  • “Overall, do you think the impact of the Internet has been positive or negative?”

Ask students to write their opinion in the chat window, then ask a few participants to explain or defend their positions.

Students will quickly add complexity and shades of grey to otherwise simplistic choices (“How can you be creative if you aren’t, on some level, organized?”) and the discussion will be off to the races.

Sounds fun right?

Consultation | Top 10 Tips To Make Your Students Effective While Online Studies

If it suits your topic and students’ developmental level, rather than using synchronous sessions for didactic (instructive) purposes, have students bring challenging dilemmas or problems and get the group’s input and advice. This can be particularly effective with adult learners or in project-based courses.

The tips offered here won’t miraculously eliminate the initial awkwardness of virtual class sessions, but they’ll help. And over time, the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of virtual meetings will become normal, even comfortable.

This article was about the Top 10 Tips To Make Your Students Effective While Online Studies. If you have any questions, leave us a comment in the comment section provided below.

Cheers and good luck!


Written by Ahsan Gardezi