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How Universities Can Keep Online Students Engaged mobile hero image

How Universities Can Keep Online Students Engaged

Your students have been working hard for months, and that mid-to-late semester inertia is setting in. With the holidays approaching, their minds start drifting toward what they’re going to do with their time off from school, and they’re starting to lose their focus on their studies. While student engagement is a concern on campus, with remote learning it can be an even bigger challenge. “Fall fatigue,” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can further compound the issue. 


At this time of year, it’s as crucial as ever to keep online students engaged. Here we’ll suggest some ways your institution can keep students focused throughout the school year.  


Mix and Mingle 

To keep online students engaged, it’s important to vary your strategies and make an even greater effort to encourage (virtual) interaction. While “mix and mingle” traditionally refers to strategic socializing at a party or on a night out, here it’s shorthand for keeping students interested by mixing up the classroom routine and getting them to interface more with their classmates and professors. Here are some student engagement examples you can apply in online programs: 


Hold Live Online Sessions 

One of the benefits unique to online programs is asynchronous learning. However, during times when class attendance and attention spans may grow thin, having an optional synchronous session can keep students on task and stave off apathy.   


Plan Collaborative Projects 

Though collaborative projects are always a good idea, consider the lead-in to the holiday season as a critical time for these as a means of keeping students mentally involved with their programs. 


Require Participation 

Whatever type of projects your faculty assign during this time, ensure that those projects require active participation from every student. 


Encourage Online Study Groups 

Online collaboration tools facilitate study groups, which enable students to get to know their classmates as they explore their subjects together. 


Reach Out More 

Your faculty can send short, individualized messages to each student to ask how they’re doing or if there’s anything they need. Students will appreciate this personal touch.  


Think Beyond the Virtual Classroom 

Your institution’s online student engagement efforts should not be limited to the classroom and academic pursuits. Acknowledge the work your students have done by offering activities and resources centered around their enjoyment and enrichment. Think about their lives outside of class and beyond graduation. Nurture their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Here are some ways to do that: 


Hold Special Online Events 

Host virtual social events and provide online access to concerts, entertaining guest speakers, sporting events, and other types of special streaming experiences that are already available to on campus students.  


Conduct Virtual Career Workshops, Seminars, and Networking Events  

Most students earn a degree to improve their professional prospects. Help them prepare for rewarding careers, even if they’re many semesters from graduation, by organizing career-oriented virtual events. You may also consider arranging partnerships with outside vendors that organize these events and provide free or low-cost virtual access to your students.  


Distribute Useful Apps 

Give your students mobile apps that provide scheduling features, study tips or ways to relax, stay in shape, and laugh. 


Give Access to Campus Resources  

You can offer most if not all campus-based services to your students virtually. Even many health services are available through an app. 


Inspire Action 

Encourage activism, volunteering, and other forms of local involvement to stimulate your students’ passion for the issues that matter to them. 


Bolster School Spirit 

Online students may not visit campus often, if ever, but they’re still very much part of your school family and should be invited to take pride in that. Remind them by sending a tangible school-logoed item such as a t-shirt or pennant to their mailbox.  


As a proven partner for public, accredited educational institutions, Apollidon Learning has many more areas of expertise to share. Let us show you how to boost online enrollments and make managing online programs easier. If you don’t already offer online programs, we can help you discover how distance learning can attract students you might never have been able to reach. Contact us today to discuss your institution’s online aspirations. 


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