Student Engagement Obstacles And How To Overcome Them
Keeping students engaged can be a challenging task on its own. Now imagine how much harder it becomes when you’re teaching an online class and your students are miles away, struggling with unprecedented learning conditions. The truth is that online learning has a lot to offer in terms of ease of access, personalization, and creativity. But you can only enjoy all these benefits if your students are motivated and engaged in learning. In this article, we talk about some student engagement obstacles that most educators face when making the switch to online learning, as well as some ideas to overcome them.
6 Obstacles That Hinder Student Engagement In Your Virtual Classroom
1. Limited Technical Skills
At a time when technology exists in almost every part of our lives, we sometimes take for granted our students’ ability to navigate online learning. However, it’s possible that many children—especially younger ones—haven’t had previous experience with online learning platforms. Not to mention financial or social factors that affect people’s access to devices such as laptops and smartphones. As a result, students end up struggling to navigate the platform instead of paying attention to class. Overcome this issue by being close to your students, especially during the first sessions, and giving them mini tutorials of how everything works.
2. Lack Of Motivation
Motivation is always high in student engagement obstacle lists, as it is one of the most common challenges educators face. And being the driving force behind student development, motivation can make or break your virtual classroom. Various factors can affect it, some being your responsibility (content variety, pacing of sessions, complexity of training material, ambiguous purpose) and others not (low self-confidence, anxiety to fulfill expectations). Although you can’t fix every problem, you can empower and support your students by maintaining open channels of communication and making sure to add to your teaching plan techniques and materials that motivate them.
3. Uninspiring Or Complex Learning Material
Another factor that greatly affects student engagement is the learning material itself. If it is repetitive and uninspiring, students will quickly lose interest. But what if, despite having carefully curated your content, it’s still not performing well? Then it’s possible that its delivery fails to cater to all learning styles. You must keep in mind that some students respond better to auditory methods, while others prefer visual or kinesthetic. A virtual classroom allows you to give your students access to different types of content so that everyone can find what works best for them.
4. Lack Of Community
Nothing can cause a student to become disengaged faster than feelings of isolation. And unfortunately, spending your school year in front of a computer screen can be inherently lonely. Students who operate in an environment that lacks a sense of community tend to lose interest in the learning process due to the absence of healthy competition, collaborative learning, and exchange of knowledge. For this reason, it’s crucial that you give students the tools they need to communicate and collaborate efficiently. This can be achieved through group assignments, discussions, forums, competitions, and more.
5. Insufficient Support
Another obstacle teachers must overcome to boost student engagement is streamlining communication between themselves and learners. Asking a question may be easy during face-to-face learning but not so much via a platform with dozens of users at a time. It can be frustrating for students if they can’t get to you during class or after hours to solve issues or get feedback on their progress. Therefore, make sure to provide them with your contact information and be available to answer emails or “hop into” a video call. Offering them the necessary support will motivate them to keep track of their development and maintain a consistent effort.
6. Online Learner Boredom
Sometimes, all that is standing between you and learner engagement is good old boredom. The kind that makes students in in-person and virtual classrooms alike lose interest and zone out. Most times, the culprit behind this phenomenon is training material that doesn’t match the interests and needs of students. Additionally, boredom can also be caused by material that is too complex and difficult for learners to follow. To avoid this problem, remember to frequently use surveys, interviews, and assessments to remain in touch with your students’ goals, expectations, and needs.
Wandering minds are a common phenomenon in virtual classrooms, and it’s not a problem if it only happens from time to time. However, if learner disengagement has become the norm in your virtual classroom, you need to take action. Hopefully, the tips we shared in this article to prevent and combat student engagement obstacles have helped you realize what you need to change in the future to make the most of online learning.