Online education

5 Tips for Keeping Adult Online Learners Interested


5 Tips for Keeping Adult Online Learners Interested

Students working on online classes.

Online learning has many benefits, including increased flexibility for adults with full-time jobs and family responsibilities, but it also means that students can study in their own time and in their own space.

In addition to the distractions inherent in home learning, using screens to interact with classmates and instructors can create a sense of isolation. Recreating the same sense of community that you get with on-campus programs can be difficult. A pandemic-era survey conducted by Digital Promise found that 50% of her students agreed that she felt less part of a class in an online environment than in a face-to-face teaching environment.

Despite this situation, it is possible to create an environment in which online students can participate and actively participate in the curriculum. And there are many creative strategies to help students get the most out of their experience. Tovuti LMS has compiled a list of five ways online education programs can effectively engage adult learners.

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Distribute class recordings

A student watching a pre-recorded lesson.

Online learners value flexibility and often choose these programs as an opportunity to balance school and their own busy schedules. By recording lessons and making them easily accessible, instructors ensure that students have the opportunity to relearn material when they can best devote their time and energy.

Even for simultaneous classes, accessible pre-recorded lessons help students catch up when they’re most focused. Tutors who want to help their learners get the most out of their materials can take advantage of the flexibility that online instruction offers, allowing students to digest the lessons in their own time.

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Assign group work

A student working on a group project online with three classmates.

A sense of community is one of the most difficult things to transition from an on-campus program to an online program, but it is essential to the success of your course. Many students learn best as part of a group. Having peers working on the same project also increases a sense of responsibility and keeps learners engaged with the material.

The University of Washington recommends that groups of 4-5 students work best for online projects and combine long-term work with daily groups. This way, students can continue to participate in the project, contribute to day-to-day discussions, and collaborate on upcoming work. If you are an adult learner looking for a way to hold yourself accountable, you might consider creating a study group with your classmates for the same reason.


Provide content in a variety of formats

College student taking online classes.

Looking at the same heavy text or listening to the same hour-long lecture every week on any subject can be tedious and isolating for students. Tutors can consider delivering multimedia her lessons that combine video lectures with readings, audio, graphics, quizzes, and more.

One professor recommends providing feedback on assignments in the form of audio or text, and changing the way students respond to discussion questions—letting them record their responses rather than write them down. Plus, switching between lesson formats keeps students of all learning styles engaged and ready for success. Please do not forget. Some learners learn more from audio lessons than from written lessons, and vice versa.

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“Gamify” lessons and assignments

A student looking at a tablet displaying a checklist.

“Gamification” is a new strategy for adult learners, but it is a great way to keep students interested in the material and actively participating in the lesson. This may include simple strategies such as associating badges with completed lessons or modules, or more complex games and challenges such as contests to answer questions on updated leaderboards.

This strategy keeps learners interested. Completing tasks is rewarded, encourages active participation rather than passive listening, and encourages collaboration with classmates that builds community. Gamification can be as simple as marking goals with badges, providing checklists for students to complete, or tracking streaks of on-time assignments. All of these help students engage and continue learning.

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Provide and solicit feedback

A student participating in a one-on-one meeting with a professor.

Finally, instructors who provide clear and consistent feedback are essential to keeping students engaged in their courses. Regularly checking students for improvement opportunities and strengths helps you understand where they are in your coursework. These conversations help instructors understand areas where students struggle or find gaps in the material.

Professors and instructors can consider setting up regular virtual office hours for students to drop by, or solicit regular feedback through surveys or one-on-one status updates. If you’re an online student and you’re not sure where you stand, remember that your instructor is there for you, even if it’s virtual. Feel free to ask questions and suggest improvements as often as you need.

This story was originally published and produced by Tovuti LMS,
Distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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