Best Practices for Remote Student Engagement at All Levels

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Getting your students’ attention? Not always easy. Keeping their attention? A challenge. Retaining it in a remote setting? It can feel like a real struggle. Student engagement in online courses is essential, but it doesn’t always come easy.

There are lots of positive aspects to distance learning . However, for some students (of any age), it can be more difficult to stay present and engaged in a digital learning experience. Educators can help keep their students’ attention, increase engagement, and improve retention of concepts through the following best practices.

Track engagement with elementary students

The average six-year-old’s attention span is only 12 to 18 minutes. Now, add in a home setting filled with parents, siblings, pets, and electronics. For many elementary school teachers, it may feel like you’re lucky to grab the attention of your students for just five minutes!

It’s important to gauge the understanding of your students as you progress through your lesson. In an in-person setting, you may rely largely on facial expressions, body language, and verbal feedback to do so. But in a remote classroom, things get a little more challenging. You can’t have students coming off mute every two minutes to say if they understand the material or not.

Give students opportunities to share their understanding throughout the lesson in a fun way. You can have students ask and answer short questions via chat. For a quick temperature check, request thumbs up or thumbs down emojis. You may even have them share their favorite and least favorite emojis to serve as a “Yes, I get it” or “No, I need help” to put a more creative spin on things.

Need to do a quick overview of yesterday’s concepts? Try a Zoom chat quiz . These informal tests don’t have to be taken for a grade. Instead, they can help you determine what to review and what to move onto next. For best results, stick to a handful of key questions. You can try True/False or multiple choice for easy scanning of responses.

Related: Vibe: Interactive Whiteboarding for Distance and Hybrid Learning

Put a new spin on discussion for middle and high school students

The discussion format is one of the most popular options for in-person and remote learning. Allowing multiple students to chat in one space is doable in a traditional classroom setting. Online classes can accommodate this set-up through break-out rooms . Here’s how you do it:

  • Start by providing your students with an open-ended prompt on a pertinent topic.
  • Divide students into pairs or small groups through breakout rooms.
  • Have students discuss their thoughts for a predetermined amount of time.
  • Ask students to record their key ideas in a Google Doc.
  • Use a round-robin format to allow each group to share their discussion.
  • As other groups present, students can record their thoughts on the information and presentations in a Google Sheet.

This new take on the traditional discussion allows for personal and group reflection while strengthening written and verbal communication skills.

Related: Best Practices for Distance Learning in 2021

Remote student engagement is possible with the right planning and some creativity. Remote student engagement is possible with the right planning and some creativity.

Create project showcases and virtual lounges for higher education

In a remote setting, it can often feel like students are less connected to each other and what they’re learning. Bridge the gap through virtual project views and lounges. At the middle and end of each semester, arrange an opportunity for students to submit their presentations to the class. Collect the assignments and house them in the learning management system so their peers can easily review the projects. To encourage participation and feedback, you can assign each student a handful of projects to comment on.

Missing the conversations that tend to flow before and after class? Provide a place for discussion with a classroom lounge. These online “coffee shops” are a great place to link to interesting topics, play trivia , and share material you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to in class. Just be sure to set expectations and communication standards prior to opening the lounge.

Related: Smart Ideas for Fostering Teamwork in Hybrid Learning Environments

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention just how engaging a Vibe smartboard can make your distance learning experiences. You’ll love working with students in real-time, sharing canvases, and bringing some of that in-person interaction to the remote classroom. Check out our Vibe FAQs for educators to learn more.


Vibe offers a collaborative solution combining an interactive digital whiteboard and innovative smart software. Increase engagement and efficiency at your brainstorming sessions, virtual training, and classroom sessions by integrating your favorite applications with video conferencing and an infinite, mess-free writing canvas. Collaborate today with Vibe.

Looking for the latest in interactive whiteboard technology? Check out Vibe today!

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