Once you get students into your online course, you've still got work to do.
You need to make sure your students consume the lessons AND take action:
Here are 6 ways to amp up the engagement level of your students and make sure they are taking action.
1. Start with a small asks and tasks–and then keep building in a way that enables your students to have success
Every lessons should include 4 components: 1.lecture, 2. demo, 3. practice/assignments, and 4. roadmaps
Number 3–practice/assignments–is the element of a lesson that gets students taking action. In the first lessons, be sure that the assignment (your “asks” of the students) are doable and motivating. As they move farther through, you can make the asks bigger. Be sure, also, that the work you're giving them is not busy work: that it's work that has them building their skills with confidence.
2. Within a lesson, incorporate “pattern interrupts”
Remember how your grade school teacher would interrupt a lesson and have you all stand up and STRETCH? Maybe move around? That teacher didn't want you dozing, fidgeting, or letting your mind wander.
It should be the same for you with your students now. Keep them focused by incorporating a break via something that breaks up the click-click-click of bullet point, knowledge stacking up, examples being given.
Think about what you can do to break up the rhythm of what they are seeing and hearing. Create a break in which you teach in a little bit different way. For my lessons, I have several types of pattern interrupts. I'll stop and warn of a rabbit hole they should avoid. Or I let them know loud and clear that what's coming now is a pro tip pay attention to. I might also let them know when something can be hard but worthwhile.
Use your content, your visuals and your voice to make this shift.
3. Within the overall course, provide one or two elements that are a little bit different and that surprise
While your students will coming into the course knowing the mapped-out curriculum plan, you can surprise them with unexpected extras.
Here are a few ideas:
- add a live stream
- get a student or two to sit in a coaching “hot seat”
- go on a virtual field trip
- bring in guests and interview them
- share Pinterest-curated boards of inspiration
- point to YouTube videos by others that echo what you've taught and provide another voice reinforcing the importance of this approach or concept
- host a virtual “alumni night”
4. Offer incentives for performance to get people more engaged and motivated.
Once all your students are enrolled and class has started, announce a competition. Perhaps everyone who gets through a particular lesson and shares their workbook or creation will be entered in a drawing for a needed tool or a critique session.
You decide what fits–but make it about taking first EARLY action on the coursework. The goal is to get all of your students motivated and moving forward.
5. Write and set up excellent emails to go out weekly and move students through the course content.
These are messages that announce the arrival of a new lesson. Additionally, they should keep students motivated, reminding them of why they are doing the work and the benefits.
Avoid using the exact same format with each email and just using it to announce the new lesson. Use engaging titles, images and gifs AND varied content within the email. Make the email worth their while to read.
And while you want to stay positive in your messages, it's also helpful to acknowledge spots where students might get stuck and to provide mindset coaching and support that keep them progressing.
6. Use live sessions to engage with your students.
Be sure to add some live elements to your teaching. You might do weekly coaching or teaching sessions.
If this is a lower-priced course and you don't have the bandwidth for extensive live sessions, work in one or two impromptu live lessons around a topic that's come up, or schedule an unexpected Q&A.
You want your students to get to know you, to even feel connected to you. Be someone they want to please, ask questions of, and be their best selves for.
Keep them engaged.
Which of these approaches will you use? Be sure to choose a few, mixing and matching to fit your course content and your teaching style.