Student engagement is one way to measure good teaching. The more a student is engaged in their studies, the higher their satisfaction and motivation to learn.

The National Education Association explains how engagement should be more about making lessons meaningful, rather than just making them fun. Learning something shouldn’t simply mean studying material for the purpose of a test; instead, it should be caring about a lesson enough that a student is motivated to continue understanding it independently.

Student engagement is all the more important given today’s current climate, where education has largely moved online. A study in the Online Learning Journal shows that institutions should also help design engaging lessons for online learning to work for students. There are three kinds of engagement strategies that are equally important: learner-to-learner, learner-to-instructor, and learner-to-content. The results of the study suggest that the facilitation of online classes and interactive learning enhance engagement. Our post on “How to Increase Student Participation in Lessons through Interactivity’ discusses how the use of technology can help reach and engage students. There are software, applications, and sites, such as Google Workspace and other cloud-based interactions that teachers can use to engage students in lessons.

Interactivity has become even more important for higher education, as students deal with more complex subject matter. It helps students digest concepts that would otherwise be hard to visualize. Distance learning has also left them to learn these subjects by themselves, making things more complicated. However, there are many universities and online platforms that have been able to find a good balance between guided interactivity and independent learning.

More often than not, students learn by doing, and shifting all aspects of their education to the online sphere makes this harder to accomplish. However, students pursuing an online cybersecurity degree with Maryville University benefit from access to the university’s groundbreaking Virtual Lab, a virtual training ground that allows students to solve real-world problems and develop technical, hacking, and analytical cybersecurity skills in a safe and protected environment. This level of interactivity equips them for real-world situations they may encounter once they take on their first jobs in the field.

Technology such as Contribute Cloud also allows for better interactivity and collaboration among teachers and students. Students can attend their classes using any device as long as it has a browser — meaning, there’s no need to install or update anything. Teachers, or presenters, can simply add their content to the platform to share it to everyone in class.

Similarly, colleges and companies that partner with Cengage are being connected to students who want to take on certain careers. Jonathan Lau, Senior Vice President of the Skills Group, explains: “Instead of starting with a general education, start with an outcome, a job, a sense of what jobs are available, what’s interesting, or what’s in demand – especially locally.” This allows students and job seekers to be more motivated because they know that what they are learning is something that they will eventually use when they start working.

ClassIn is designed to make online learning more interactive by offering advanced interactive classroom and teaching features for an interactive online learning experience. ClassIn attempts to imitate the offline learning experience with its digital blackboard and virtual classrooms, where blended learning and dual-teacher mode can be utilized.

However, interactivity in online learning can only help so much. Students enrolled in McGill University will be accessing classes online, as the institution has been physically closed since March 2020. But once COVID-19 protocols are loosened, the university is thinking of allowing physical classes only for those who need face-to-face instructions and hands-on experiences, such as those involved in health care and students who need access to laboratories.

Students will respond differently to different teaching styles, but interactive learning will make them more interested and engaged in class. This will make them fare better when they finally have to learn independently, as they are aware of the gaps in their knowledge and skills and will be motivated to work on what they need to improve on.

Written by Frances Howell for