One of the biggest challenges to online instruction is maintaining learner engagement. Although technology may be engaging initially, with any program, over time, learner engagement wanes. Even if online instruction programs offer built-in incentive systems (like games or rewards), educators must be prepared with engagement solutions. When persistence and engagement downshift, learners veer off task, and learning will not progress.
Routines and Procedures that help manage learner engagement
Although educators and learners will be excited to start working on computers right away, much instruction must happen before students sit in front of the screen. Take time to teach routines and procedures for computer use first, and create routines that allow educators to direct attention and manage behavior. . The following routines will help educators create cues for directing learner attention and engagement during the first couple of weeks of class.
The First Weeks of Blended Instruction: Building Teacher Presence and Community Building Routines:
- Build computer stamina and endurance. Slowly increasing stamina helps learners adjust to computer time. Practice with a timer, building up to 20 minutes of student independent work time . After designated time, learners should 'check in' with their peers or instructor.
- Create a routine for 'check ins' and 'community pull backs' . These routine provides a clear procedure for pulling the classroom back together and away from the computers. Check ins and Community Pullbacks allow a systemic procedure for directing updates, initiating discussion or bringing learners together for large or small group discussion. The bell on the timer can serve as a cue for a 'check in' or community pullback. When the learners hear the timer bell, learners break away from the computer and direct their attention to the educator. These routines build teacher presence that is critical to behavior management. S
- Celebrate the process of progress and improvement. Consider a daily award for learners who have demonstrated determination and persistence. Use the reward to focus on effort and stamina.
- Create progress and stamina charts that learners continually visit and update. Discuss progress and stamina charts during 'check-ins' or 'community pull backs'.