If you have been keeping up to date with our AVer Experts, then you are probably familiar with the term “hybrid learning” by now. While common, hybrid learning is actually part of a bigger concept called blended learning, which has been around since the early 2000s. It is defined as any education method that utilizes and integrates digital technologies as a teaching and learning tool.

But regardless of what learning method you adopt, any methods can fall unsuccessful if the students are not engaged in the learning. As a student’s engagement is defined as the degree of attention, curiosity, and interest/passion they have for what they are learning, having a low engagement would mean students are not actually absorbing what is taught. Although the same issue could occur in traditional classrooms, the concern for student engagement in blended learning is magnified due to the lack of face-to-face interactions. It’s important to build a student’s engagement at an early stage because it helps them develop competencies and relationships between the value of learning and the quality of their learning outcomes.

Thus, today we will be going over a few tips that the teachers could follow to encourage student engagement and ensure it is built and maintained even in blended learning.

Decide on a digital home base

With so many cool and new applications out there, it may be tempting to utilize various edtech services and platforms for your classroom. However, this may end up harming the learning experience for your students as having to juggle and switch between multiple applications can be both unnecessary and a hassle. Students need to feel comfortable on a platform in order to take control of their own learning. By establishing a digital home base, whether it be Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, or Edmodo etc., students will have a place where they can always check back to for homework, updates, and other resources – the goal is to create a place online that they always have access to. Not only will this decrease the confusion with figuring out where to find what, it will also cultivate stability and familiarity to encourage them to be more actively engaged.

Simplicity is best

One of the challenges of blended learning is the obvious distance between you and your students. As you guys are no longer in the same room (at least most of the time), it’s even more crucial than ever to keep things simple and easy to absorb. This does not mean the teaching materials are to be trivialized but rather, the content should be presented in an easy manner to allow students to effectively learn without being overwhelmed. This may be particularly difficult in elementary schools since children at that age range can be easily distracted. Hence, if the materials shared online are unclear or in poor quality, it will only lead to a drop in student engagement. To remedy this, it’s important to pick the right teaching software to ensure classroom retention and engagement are maintained. We recommend AVerTouch as one of the software you’d consider, especially if you are someone that loves to share and utilize various teaching materials to mix things up in your virtual classroom. With one-touch, you can easily connect AVerTouch to an AVer visualizer to instantly start live streaming. From annotating, capturing, and recording, every teaching material can be shared with in-class and remote students and be uploaded to cloud for later viewing. As AVerTouch is also part of the Google for Education Integrated Solutions initiative, all captured images and recorded videos can be automatically uploaded to Google Classroom and then allocated to students as assignments or lesson contents for later use. Additionally, teachers can check an assignment status on AVerTouch at any time while also use Google Classroom to give instant feedback on their work. With the integration between AVer Visualizer, AVerTouch, and Google Classroom, it truly embodies the definition of instant digitalization of teaching materials.

Actively involve your students

The other common issue blended learning face is that sometimes students simply tune out during the lesson. Even though this can also happen in a traditional classroom, it happens way more frequently when you are at your home and participating in a livestream that requires no active input whatsoever. Thus, when possible, create opportunities for students to discuss the topic at hand and try to include students’ decisions as part of the learning activity in order to really get them involved. The latter is especially important because it also lets remote students feel seen and heard even when they’re on the other side of the computer. Furthermore, it’s best avoid full lecture-based teaching in which the students are just listening; instead, ask them questions and allow them to comment on their classmates’ ideas and works.

Include a digital break time

Lastly, knowing how to take effective breaks can vastly improve a student’s engagement and productivity. According to the popular Pomodoro Technique, it is advised that we break our work session into 25-minute periods that are separated by 5-minute breaks. Then, after about four sessions of these 25-minute periods, you can take a longer break for about 15 to 20 minutes. While every online class is structured differently, this technique is worth looking into as studies have shown that short breaks help keep your attention span on track. The longer a student sits at their computer, the more difficult it is for them to focus as time passes by. By allowing students to take a breather from staring at their screen all day, it decreases the possibility of them reaching cognitive boredom, which in turn results in an unengaged mind. In addition, it’s also a great way for students to revisit the information they just absorbed to help them retain it before moving on to more new information. Hence, in order to improve the attention span of students and maintain their engagement and productivity, breaks are absolutely necessary.