Top Ways To Boost Student Engagement For Online Instructors

Ways To Boost Student Engagement

Online Education has been around for long. But now,  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) is gaining due recognition and respect. In spite of slowly gaining popularity and hype, it hasn’t had a massive impact on the students yet.

The major MOOC’s to name a few are Edx, Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, Future Learn, Khan Academy or Canvas has attracted registrations in millions out of which many are working adults who are aiming to advance their careers. The few free online courses have attracted astonishing registration numbers but the real problem is many don’t complete the course or don’t even start for the course in spite of being registered. Fortunately, the problem is being addressed with a lot of smart people putting thoughts, money, and work to make it better. The underlying fact to all the issues is online learning is not the same as classroom and should be mobile, social and personal.

Therefore, traditional learning methods should take a backseat and virtual classroom should be made more engaging so students make it to the finish line.

Types of Visual Tools For Instructors To Make Engaging Content

It is a well-known fact that visuals are easy to process by the brain and can make content easy to comprehend, register and interesting for students. It can be appealing and engaging at the same time. As millennials literally sleep with smartphones and spend more time on it, it is important that the content is stimulating, short and interactive.

1. Illustrations


It helps to explain the complex part of a topic and elucidate with compelling visuals. Use illustrations and icons to explain parts of a process which are minute or hidden from the eye.

2. Photos


It makes the topic engaging and enhance the content making it easy to understand. A relevant and memorable image drives learners attention and fulfills the learning objective efficiently.

3. Visualizations

Use of graphs, pie-charts or flow diagrams which are excellent learning tools to explain complex information in simple visual graphics.

  • Bar Graph: To show change over the period
  • Flow Diagrams: Breaking the main idea into a series of steps or processes
  • Pie-Chart: Show in percentage form of a whole.

4. Screenshots


Actual screen captures of any specific subject to help understand the concept step by step. Example, if you want to explain ‘How to Use a Software’, you can show the screen captures of each step which can be easily followed and learned.

To enhance the visuals, you can direct with the use of text blocks, arrows to explain various elements on the screen.

5. Videos


Human interaction increases trust and positive feelings. It brings a human touch to the course. You can also use characters which can create an impact on your audience than only text with a background voice. These characters give your students to visualize while getting immersed in the sea of information.

Also, moving images can bring life to a dull content. It makes it more engaging by using real-life scenarios or stories. It is proved that people are more interested in consuming content through videos than only listening or reading.

Videos make learning effective and using for the training with instructions can have maximum impact.

6. Animated GIF

Animated GIF

It helps in making a series of photos or videos visually attractive which in turn increases captures the attention of the students. It creates more impact than regular photos in conveying meaning, showing emotions and explaining the process.

7. Infographics


A visual representation of information. They are used to represent statistics and compare data, tell a story, explain processes or concepts. Infographics are handy and quintessential. They are visually attractive and present the complex information in the simplest way, keeping the students hooked.

8. Pictographs or Comics


Tell your story with a visual appeal or with a tinge of humor. It doesn’t make a serious topic boring and also acts as an icebreaker. Pictographs are simple line drawings and have an instant appeal to explain complex procedures.

9. Visual Notes

Sketch Notes

They are Sketch notes which not only captures ideas but tells a story connecting the main points. They are more fun than the usual written text. It helps you to organize and integrate knowledge, connect ideas and concepts together in a visual form. If done well, it can be elegant, readable and shareable. It should be lucid with readable fonts, neat pictures and well presented.

10. Presentations


A short, concise and simple presentation with pointers and visuals like images, videos, maps to make it engaging and less uninteresting.

Ways Instructors Can Make Online Learning Engaging & Interactive

Engaging your students can be challenging due to short attention span, technology disruptions, and distraction. Hence, for educators engagement should be a priority and turn technology distraction into an advantage to increase student engagement in the digital age. Use of technology allows students to gain a deeper understanding of topics and direct their learning. We have listed ways to make online learning interesting and interactive by incorporating visual content into the classroom.

1. Submission Of Assignments As Blogs

Blogs are a popular form of writing short online articles (less than 3000 words) where the author can express their thoughts and the reader can learn new things. Students can post their assignments as blogs and showcase their work in public and others can comment and make it an interesting discussion.

2. Submission Of Assignment As Videos Or Podcasts

Podcasts is a digital audio file which can be accessed on a computer, phone or media player. Many students are working adults and can be difficult at times. To make it easy, today millennials have doubled their time on the smartphone, they can record video by using the camera of the smartphone and voice recorder for creating podcasts. This saves them from the stress of making presentations or can help them to prepare for a test.

3. Virtual Exchange Program

Host a guest lecture or engage in an exchange program with a classroom full of students from other continent or teach history, geography or any foreign language by talking to students from another country. All this is possible in the virtual world by using Skype which allows you to add people to your classroom and chat with them internationally.

4. Gamification

Gamification brings competition levels to your classroom exercise. You can add rewards to the exercise and make learning fun. This would encourage your student to work harder and bring out their competitiveness. Gradecraft can help you with ideas to implement gameful design for the course and helps students to focus on the craft of learning.

Example, work with your students for the awards that they can receive on completion of tasks. Quite interactive and engaging than normal methods of learning.

5. Record Student Reading

Many a time, you can make pronunciation and voice modulation errors while reading. You can record and play it for students to make them understand the concept of fluency and expression especially while teaching a foreign language. Use voice recording software on your computer or smartphone to record and then email it.

Wrapping It Up

Here’s an infographic to summarize this blog article:

With all the ideas and strategies, the aim is to increase student engagement, long-term retention rates, consistency in student attendance and overall student satisfaction. Online education has come a long way in a short period and this evolution needs to be continued with better and effective tools bringing high-quality education to scale. 

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About The Author 

Neha Mehta

Neha is a content writer at Visual Deck who writes on the topics related to Content Creation and Marketing. Her journey started as a financial professional but she soon realized her passion for writing and is now living her dream as a content writer. She is geeky and friendly. Her goal is to enlighten the audience on various topics through her writing style.

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