How to Engage Students in Digital Learning

With blended courses and other such forms of learning becoming increasingly common, professors and course developers have to think of new ways to enable students to interact. Too many course developers simply provide copies of slides that professors would use in class and hope for the best, but that simply isn’t good enough. Luckily, companies like Thomas Rollins Teaching, who have developed The Great Courses, know that this is not the way to go about it. Rather, they have learned how to design courses in such a way that they ensure students enjoy them at all times.

Triggering Engagement Through Digital Learning

According to Thomas Rollins Teaching, engagement is down to:

  1. Triggering any knowledge students already have. If they can use their existing knowledge, the new course becomes more relevant, and this will make it more interesting as well.
  2. Understanding the goals of the student. The Great Courses have all been developed following consultations with other students, trying to find out what they wanted to learn.
  3. Following the goals of the student, rather than that of the organization. This is down to the founder of The Great Courses, who had to cram for a subject he was not interested in, and found video lectures to help him. As much as Thomas Rollins Teaching is a business, the goal is not to make money, but to provide people with high quality education.
  4. Encouraging students to share their personal interests, and encouraging them to go above and beyond those. This is almost like a reward: if students are made to feel they are really good at learning, they will become more motivated to not just continue with the existing course, but take up new ones as well.
  5. Asking students to share their knowledge with the rest of the class, thereby showing others that they are not by themselves. Not just that, online reviews on The Great Courses help interested students find out what it is all about before deciding whether or not to enroll.
  6. Connecting with students and interacting with them in a meaningful way. This is done by making professors go through a stringent application process that ascertains that they are able to deliver the material in an interesting, engaging manner.
  7. Showing students how to learn, so that they have clear expectations of both themselves and of what the course will be able to do for them.
  8. Using real-life scenarios. Students always feel more connected if they can imagine using what they have learned in real life. This means things are more relevant and, thereby, more interesting.

For Thomas Rollins Teaching, the goal is to encourage people to embrace lifelong learning. Students of The Great Courses and The Great Courses Plus do so because of personal interests. However, they also become members of a community of learners, which supports itself in getting bigger and better. The company has existed for over a quarter of a century and has gone from strength to strength in that time.