How to Create Engagement in the Online Classroom
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Considering the low completion rates at Fraser Valley Distance Education School, which are as low as 40 percent in secondary courses, there needs to be an attempt to engage students in order to promote their understanding of material and motivate them to complete courses. This is done through considering what students need to be engaged, and how to promote this engagement online. Making sure that students understand what a school’s online program consists of is important, as transparency of information is essential with all the confusing and conflicting terms in Distributed Learning. The term online education promotes the idea that students will receive a lesser education than those in the face-to-face program, meaning they will complete more work but understand less information because they are not in a group setting. There needs to be a balance between using online programs that are free and already in place (Twitter, Wikis, Blogs), and using a school wide Learning Management systems (LMS) that students do not have experience with. Those students who were asked to use online programs in which they were not familiar reported that taking the time to understand the process took time away from their learning, and thus hindered their engagement. Students require clear and detailed feedback in a timely manner, combined with personal communication with their teacher. Students must get individual attention in the form of phone calls, emails, and one on one virtual lessons if engagement is going to be promoted. Those students who were surveyed after getting this individualized attention said they felt the teacher cared for them, and they wanted to work for someone who took this time to show student success was of importance. This paper examines the need for a student centred approach to online education, combined with the ease of access required in online communication systems.