Engage students with regular communication.

By regularly communicating with your students, you can establish an engaging environment.  Consider a weekly summary message or Blackboard Learn announcement to review the week ahead, or the past week, with the class. Also, use frequent, low stakes interactions. Share a fact about yourself on the whiteboard or in a discussion space. It can be as simple as – how do you take your coffee? #PumpkinSpiceSeason. You can also share weekly motivational quotes or tips for success!
Also, keep regular office hours, and use the same platform (Zoom, Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, etc.) for your office hours each week. This provides an opportunity to get to know your students, and for your students to get to know you!
Encourage the use of chat during lectures. Students may feel more comfortable typing a question rather than asking aloud.

Keep students engaged with instructional tech tools.

You’ve gotten comfortable with online learning, and so have your students. Now, are you too comfortable? Panopto is an ideal tool to record and share lectures, but what about after the lectures? How can you engage students in discussion to facilitate learning? We have a few tools that can help.

Breakout Rooms

Students can be more comfortable discussing course material in smaller groups. If your class is not meeting face-to-face, consider using the breakout room feature in Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate. This creates small groups where students can discuss class readings and lectures.

Get Creative

Lecture + Reading + Paper = a familiar formula. Mix it up with Adobe Creative Cloud technology! The University of Alabama is an Adobe Creative Campus, meaning, all UA students and instructors have access to Creative Cloud tools. Consider assigning a podcast or video rather than a paper. Encourage Adobe Spark over a PowerPoint Presentation. Ask students to make an interactive timeline using Adobe Rush. View our Adobe Spark page to learn more about the tools available, andisit the Adobe for Education website for more ideas.

Games and Polls

Including games and polls can be a great way to engage the class, and perhaps spur a little competition. Using the polls feature in Collaborate Ultra or Zoom can keep students engaged and also provide the opportunity for you to assess understanding. Also – many free tools, like Kahoot and Quizlet are available to build quizzes and activities your students may enjoy.


Virtual Teaching – Best Practices

Students, especially those new to college or to online learning, can become overwhelmed keeping up with schedules and due dates for multiple courses. Here are a few best practices to follow in your class.

  • Standardize dates where possible. For example, maybe all readings and study questions are due on Mondays, with homework due Wednesdays, then exams on Fridays. Create a routine for your course.
  • Use due dates and course calendar in Blackboard Learn. These tools are built into Blackboard Learn and readily available. Use them to make course dates clear.
  • Simplify the Blackboard course environment. Remove what you don’t need once you know what tools you are using. This creates a simpler and cleaner environment for your students.
  • Keep My Grades up to date! When an instructor regularly updates a student’s grade, the student is more likely to routinely visit the Blackboard course.

Share your student engagement tips!

Do you have an interactive way to keep students engaged? Share it with us – cit@ua.edu.