A colleague of mine recently asked me for tips on what to do when an online student stops logging into the course. Unfortunately, this is a familiar situation even in a face-to-face course.
Here are a few best practices for connecting to and/or motivating online students:
- First and foremost, begin with building community in your course from day 1. This starts with an icebreaker that and continues in many ways throughout the course. Read: Social Interaction and Presence in the Online Classroom
- Pedagogically, I recommend using groups/teams to build community and build in accountability to the team. Feeling a ‘sense of community’ is rated very highly by students who are persistent in online learning (Diep, Cocquyt, Zhu, & Vanwing, 2016).
- By day 3 of the course, send personal email to each student who has not logged in and tell them you “miss them” and want to be sure they are not missing out on what their peers are saying/doing.
- Throughout course, check the Learning Management System (LMS) logs frequently to ensure students are logging in daily (esp in summer course). If they have not logged in within last 48 hours, send them a personal note.
- Encourage students to add their cell phone number to their LMS profile to receive class announcements/emails via SMS (text) to their phone (optional of course).
- Integrate real-time (synchronous) time. Facilitate a 1-1 session with each student; have them sign up from a selection of various times/days.
- Contact your Dean of Students Office (or similar) to report your concerns for the student.
Again, these are many of the same best practices we apply in the face-to-face environment. (Note that summer session is typically a very different “semester” due to summer and compressed time frame.)
Diep, N.A., Cocquyt, C., Zhu, C., & Vanwing, T. (2016). Predicting adult learners’ online participation: Effects of altruism, performance expectancy, and social capital. Computers & Education, 101, 84-101.