illustration shows a laptop with headphones and some notes beside it

5 Ways to Make Virtual Learning More Interactive

3 min read

Benjamin Boivin

Choosing a college or university comes down to many factors. Students place importance on location, reputation, academic excellence or perhaps accessibility. 

Since the global pandemic, individual working and socializing online has become more and more regular. 

While some colleges have returned to full-on-campus study again since the easing of lockdown restrictions, others have kept their teaching online. This has given students more options if they want to study towards an online course without having to step foot on campus. 

For institutions with online-only courses, here are some ways to make virtual learning more interactive: 

Create a buddy system.

Even before the pandemic forced college and universities to go hybrid or entirely online, group projects were a struggle. Now that students live in different time zones and home environments, mandatory group work is more challenging than ever. Rather than adding stress with large group projects and presentations, one option is to couple students together to form micro-groups.

To begin:

1. Pair students up based on their geographic region to ensure time zone consistency.

2. Make sure students know how to use tools like Google Docs or Zoom. King’s College London for instance, utilizes the Padlet platform for class collaboration.

3. Ask them to build on each other's work. Students should take screenshots of progress, or use "revision history" to track progress and safeguard against lost/deleted work. 

4. When students are comfortable with the buddy system project and have the tools required to complete the work, schedule project milestones and deadlines that lead up to a midterm or final presentation. By providing a realistic action plan, your students will feel more engaged with the curriculum.


Develop curriculums that enable peer discussion

There is a learning and teaching curve in the virtual classroom. Online teaching is incredibly tricky for educators representing larger traditional institutions where massive lecture halls are part of the everyday student experience. If your lesson plan hasn’t changed much in the past decade, now is the time to tear up the speech and create more of a Q&A-style presentation.

One way to do this could be to actually have fewer or shorter lectures to encourage discussions and interaction.

Divide your curriculum into sections with short quizzes, or a discussion board at the end of each section. This will keep students focused. When the students know a graded quiz is coming after each section, they are less likely to drift off or browse the Internet during lectures.

Build more in-class, real-time surveys

With survey apps like Poll Everywhere, Direct Poll, and Slido , you can now poll your students and get responses in real-time. Not only can this approach be extremely informative, but it can also add a fun and interactive way to get your questions answered.

How to begin:

1. Keep your polls short and relevant to the lesson plan

2. Create questions that directly relate to the virtual classroom conversation and give students a chance to analyze the results

3. Inspire friendly debate by asking students why they chose a particular answer. You can also keep survey responses anonymous.

Utilize breakout rooms

While these can be difficult to facilitate with just one instructor, it’s an excellent way to empower students to share opinions freely. Breakout rooms are another perfect option when trying to split up an hour-long virtual lecture with some interactivity.

Ease into every class with personal conversation

In the professional and academic world alike, small talk is essential. You want to get to know your professional peers and treat them like real humans - not just a zoom-call interaction. This could be small things like opening the virtual classroom earlier, or let students stay after class for a small chat together.

The more time you spend listening to your students and getting to know them personally, the better they will feel about reentering the learning environment each week.

As higher education continues to adapt to the aftermath of the pandemic and deal with its own challenges around falling student numbers, rising costs and greater competition for students, universities need to be more adaptable and may have to offer online courses to appeal to more students. 

By following these tips, institutions can capture prospective students' attention and ensure their online learning programs are a success. 

Related Tags
Just For You

Top Picks

Photo shows a group of young people all standing by a wall looking at their phones

The first 8 seconds – capturing the attention of Gen Z students

4 min read

Illustration shows three people around a mobile phone

Communicating with Generation Z: Everything You Need to Know

9 min read

illustration of a woman thinking while looking at a giant calendar page

2024 Higher Ed Conference Calendar

16 min read

Higher Ed Chats Podcast

Listen to the latest episodes of our Higher Ed Chats Podcast - new format for 2024. Hear from Higher Ed thought-leaders from around the world!

Webinar: Dos & Don'ts of Higher Ed Social Media

Social Media Webinar March 24 Banners (3)

Join our live webinar on 27th March to hear from a panel of Higher Ed Social Media experts. 


to get the latest news and updates

Leave a Comment