5 Effective Tricks for Keeping Students’ Attention Online

Online verse in-person teaching. What format is better for keeping students' attention online and delivering an effective lesson? Well, it depends on the student and the teacher.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has offered both the option of e-learning and on campus classes. According to their students, the ones that prefer online learning enjoy the flexibility element and the allotment of time given for discussion. However, teachers are concerned on whether students are receiving a proper education and really get the most out of their video lectures.

So are the students that prefer online learning at UMKC still maintaining the grades of the students that **were attending in person? Keep reading to find out. 

I say were because of the recent effects of the coronavirus; schools are all 100% online and plan to be until 2021+. Just like the concerns of the teachers at UMKC, teachers around the world are worried about the effects of missing those in-person interactions with their students. 

If you’re a teacher worried about the education your students are receiving from online lectures, there are a few ways to ensure students are tentative during lectures and stay engaged the entire time. 

Here are a few ways to keep your students attention on the other side of the screen: 



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A conference call screen using zoom with participants in different costumes

1. Get creative!

Now is the time to have a little fun with your students.

Even in the classroom, listening to a monotone voice and nothing more gets boring. You need to think about ways to spice up your lectures! Here are a few ideas to get students excited about attending your online lessons. 

  • Have a theme for each session. For example, one day’s theme could be dressing up like your favorite Disney character. Students will love logging in and seeing what everyone came up with. 

  • Use a fun background! Zoom makes it easy to customize your background screens; whether it be your favorite color or vacation spot.

  • Just like a classroom, call on students and ask questions or get their opinions on the topic. 

  • Assign PowerPoint projects or other presentation tools where students can get creative.

  • Have students vote on the correct answer, holding up signs similar to a trivia contest or jeopardy (interactive activities). 


2. Make everyone show their faces on screen (including you

Staring at a black screen isn’t fun or engaging for the student or teacher.

Make sure every student has their monitor turned on so you know what they are doing and where their attention lies. Just like a classroom, teachers need to monitor their students and eliminate any distractions that might take away from their lectures. 


3. Keep your videos short and sweet! 

Just like classroom learning, don’t let your lectures draggggg onnnnnnnnn. Keep them short, sweet and to the point with plenty of time left for discussion.

Watching a screen can be particularly more draining than in-person lectures, so prepare lessons that are a little bit shorter than in-person ones. Or breakup your lesson plans into smaller segments. If you want, you can survey your students to see which they prefer.

  1. More lessons, but broken down into smaller times

  2. Fewer lessons, with longer durations

student e-learning and looking at screen with her professor and other students

4. Record your videos and make them available online for review

That’s the beauty of online learning; you can watch it repeatedly in case you missed something.

Even for in-person learning and events, we always recommend a recorded version that can be posted online for further sharing and playback.

As a student, whether it was middle school or college, I always referred to online videos when I needed more help. From math tutorials to Q&A literature series from other schools posted online, having prerecorded lectures is a lifesaver and gave me something to refer back to. 

If you want to save your videos, you can make them accessible on Dropbox, a video sharing platform like YouTube, or make them available in your learning dashboard. 


5. Put presentation material on the screen, not just your face

As beautiful as you are, it gets boring staring at one thing for a period of time.

Switch up your screen with fresh materials and presentations. Try experimenting with different presentation software that you can show during your lecture or share to students after.

Here are our recommendations: 


“People may think teaching online is less demanding than teaching in classroom, but the fact is teaching online requires more time and preparation… some think teaching online is of less quality than classroom learning, but the truth is teaching online has the potential to provide better experience than classroom learning.”

This was a quote from one professor at UMKC, and he is right.

Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, our teachers are working even more to ensure students absorb their lectures. Using the tips mentioned above is a brilliant start for boosting your online engagement and keeping your students’ attention online.

And to answer the question on whether e-learning or in-person lectures were more effective, UMKC’s study found no differences. Students online performed the same as students attending in-person courses. 



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