Get rid of Scholar Boredom On-line: Inventive Ideas
Create interesting online classrooms
Let’s face it: online classrooms can be boring; Read the lesson, write an essay, and start an initial discussion with some answers. Students can lose interest in such standard courses, preventing them from meeting course objectives. Solving this motivation problem can be tricky as many learning management systems don’t allow for a lot of creativity and instructors get stuck in a boring, typical course design. But even with the most restrictive LMS, teachers can still create innovative online classrooms that make learning engaging for students.
The following information illustrates some suggestions that could potentially alleviate student boredom online.
7 tips to eliminate student boredom online
1. Turn the introductory post into a game
Instead of having students write about their interests, why they are taking the course, etc. in the first week, turn the initial forum into a game. For example, students can play the “two truths and one lie” (give classmates two facts about themselves and one falsehood) and have their classmates guess what the lie is. Students can also tell an interesting life event in their first few posts and let their classmates guess the end of the event. Another idea would be to create a puzzle for their classmates to solve the first week, either a logic game, joke, equation, or word search.
2. Flip the discussion
Try to move away from “first posts / replies” discussions. Instead, before the week starts, create initial posts based on topics from the class and then let students enter into discussions on the topics. Students in this situation do not make their first contributions. Instead, they need to build on the previous student’s discussion and create a separate thread under each topic. Students interact more than they would if they were posting responses to their classmates’ “mini-essays” using the standard “one post / two answers” method.
3. Randomize assigned topics
Use ungraded quizzes to assign random topics to students. Add any topics that you might want students to cover in an assignment or discussion, sort them randomly, and assign only one of those topics to students. The “answer” to the random question can be as simple as “I understand this is my subject.” This type of quiz will be like a game of chance or even a slot machine for students. A bonus is that you won’t be inundated with tasks on the same topic.
4. Create personalized mini-lessons
Use Quicktime or Screencast-o-Matic to create videos showing students how to navigate through the week’s assignments. For videos, I recommend uploading them to YouTube. This way, you don’t have to transcribe the video as YouTube will do the subtitles for you (which is required for online classrooms). After uploading the video, be sure to copy the HTML encoding, which can be done by clicking “Embed”. This is a great way to embed your video in the weekly lesson (find the HTML or <> links) if your LMS allows it.
5. Add “Easter Eggs”
Try using “Easter Eggs” with text or video lessons. Easter eggs will be kind of a surprise in class. Easter eggs can include additional credits, perhaps asking students to post information (picture, phrase, question) on the discussion forums. This could create more viewers for your videos (and make them a little funnier).
6. Get creative with assignments
Much to the chagrin of many students, lecturers tend to assign several essays each semester. Instead, create tasks that still meet the course objectives, but also allow creativity. For example, set up an email exchange via the university’s email system. Send a class question to one or a group of students, give them some time to respond to your email with a reply, and possibly continue those email exchanges with students and / or their classmates . Have students create a “Twitter” feed in the discussions. Create an assignment where students will upload either a QuickTime or a Screencast video to the forums as “Presentation Week”. That way, students can view their classmates’ work and you can watch videos instead of grading essays.
7. Replace the last project with a journal
Another way for students to demonstrate their knowledge is to keep a weekly journal. Again, the diary entries do not necessarily have to be “mini-essays” like the initial posts discussed above. Instead, they are personal responses to the readings and / or lessons. The diary entries can be uploaded weekly for a nominal grade (perhaps one point per week), and then the entire journal can be the “final” project of the course, with a final journal entry. This way the students won’t be bombarded with huge assignments in the last week. Instead, the students work on this final project throughout the semester in order to achieve the course goals in a more stress-free and pleasant way.
Many students are happy to have the opportunity to graduate online, but they might get bored with the standard methods of online learning. Instead, think about how you can go beyond the typical discussion, lesson, and assignment format, even if the LMS doesn’t give you the freedom to use many “bells and whistles”. Hopefully some of the examples above will inspire you to go beyond the standard online classroom and provide your students with a fun and engaging online experience.