With technological advancements, and especially those that were escalated through the pandemic, online learning is more popular than ever. And although this type of schooling offers convenience and flexibility, it also offers its own unique challenges, such as leading students to feeling lost in the curriculum, isolated from peers, and overall, disconnected from both what they’re learning and their online community.
As an educator, there are strategies that you can implement to better support your online students. In this blog, I’ll explore what these are. Let’s dive in!
Strategies to Better-Support Online Students
1. Foster a Sense of Community
One of the biggest challenges for online students is feeling connected to both the educator and their peers. This is why it’s so important for educators to foster a sense of community. To foster community, educators could encourage students to introduce themselves to one another, use discussion forums and group projects to promote collaboration, set up virtual office hours or hold live chats, or even play games, such as trivia, to derive connections. The more community you can create while in the virtual learning environment, the more your students will benefit.
2. Provide Clear & Consistent Communication
In the virtual learning environment, students are only interacting with their educators through technology. Unlike in-person schooling, they don’t have the ability to simply walk up to their educator when they have a question. This is why it’s so important to provide students with clear and consistent communication. Make sure your expectations and guidelines are clearly communicated to students, and provide detailed instructions. To optimize communication, consider using tools such as email, discussion forums, and video conferencing. Additionally, make sure that your students can easily reach out to you if they have questions.
3. Offer Personalized Support
It’s important to note that online students may have different needs and challenges compared to students who are learning in an in-person environment. To support your students to the best of your ability, it’s essential to offer personalized support. One idea to do this could be to conduct surveys and assessments to understand students’ learning styles and preferences. Utilize these things to tailor your teaching style, and remember to keep the students and their learning at the center of your approach.
4. Provide Resources for Time Management & Study Skills
To stay on track with their work, students are required to have a high degree of self-motivation and time management skills. This can be especially true when the student is in a virtual environment, which is why it’s so important that educators offer resources to help students manage their time and study effectively. With that being said, it’d be a good idea to offer time-management tips, study strategies, and resources for academic support, like tutoring or writing centers. The more time management and study resources you can provide your students with, the better.
5. Use Technology Effectively
Last but not least, it’s important for educators to use technology effectively in their pursuit of better-supporting their online students. Some ways in which you could use technology effectively include making sure your online learning platform is user-friendly and easy to navigate, using videos and interactive activities to engage students and enhance their learning, and providing technical support and troubleshooting resources to help students navigate issues they may experience. By using technology effectively, you’ll ease the online learning experience for both yourself and your students.
I hope you’ll take these strategies into account when considering how you can better-support your online students! Offering support is evidently a multifaceted approach, but when it’s done correctly, it has the ability to help students thrive in the virtual learning environment. Best of luck – you got this!