Over the decades, by and large, learning was confined to the four walls of a physical classroom. The advent of technology in education enabled students and provided them with varied learning engagements. Also the outbreak of the Covid-19 propelled school leaders and institutions to adopt virtual learning mode as a feasible alternative to continue the teaching learning process. Within a short span of just eight months, schools and students find themselves in a virtual learning era. At one time, what looked impossible in our country has become a reality with millions of parents, teachers and students adopting this mode of learning. The evolution and availability of tech-tools was one of the major factors that helped in making a quick and easy transition to the virtual interactive learning platform. Even as we continue to adapt to the new normal, parents and teachers as equal stakeholders need to constantly help students remain motivated and engaged on the virtual platform.
Due to the absence of face to face social interaction with peers and teachers on the virtual portal, students tend to get discouraged, lose interest and often find themselves in a situation of isolation after a certain time span. “How do I keep my learners motivated or how do I help students motivate themselves during these times of online learning?” is a very relevant question that is being faced by teachers and parents today. Teacher motivation and self-motivation on the part of the learner are both important aspects. It is wonderful to witness teachers on their part doing much to unlearn and relearn, and learn new strategies and tools available online to provide a productive learning experience for the students. Constant innovation and transformation to stay relevant and equipped to facilitate better participation from students and also ensure their social and emotional well being has been commendable. In-spite of the efforts taken by the teachers, student engagement and motivation will always be an ongoing challenge. Just like there is no blueprint to make face-to-face traditional class engaging and meaningful, there is no specific formula as well to keep students motivated during the virtual learning session. However, some of the aspects/strategies given here can greatly help parents and teachers to keep students motivated in order to bring out greater learning outcomes.
“Being aware of the fact that students have an easy access to the internet, teachers along with parents need to provide mentorship and an appropriate guidance to help them with additional reading or helpful information for additional research on their concepts.”
During the virtual classes, it is very important to facilitate collaborative learning experiences for the children through the activities within the scope of the lesson. This will break the routine structure of the class and encourage greater participation. Teachers need to connect with every individual student and monitor their progress. They should also continue the practice of rewarding students and recognizing their efforts on the online portal. These acts of appreciation will not only rejuvenate student’s interest in learning, but also help them build self esteem and boost self confidence. Being aware of the fact that students have an easy access to the internet, teachers along with parents need to provide mentorship and an appropriate guidance to help them with additional reading or helpful information for additional research on their concepts. This practice will definitely help students to become responsible, independent and discerning in navigating the internet and enhance and build on their knowledge. Inclusion of a variety of virtual aids such as videos and informative presentations and also teachers can incorporate tools and learning strategies like flipped classroom, Integrated learning, Ted Talks among others which are available absolutely free in their lesson plans and be flexible during the lessons to meet individual student learning requirements and achieve greater learning outcomes.
Robert John Meehan, an educator and author had aptly said, “A well prepared and engaging teacher is a catalyst... a spark that creates the desire to learn in our students.” Teachers and parents need to continue to be self motivated first in order to awaken the same motivation among students. It is said that only inspired teachers can inspire students. Also, the entire pandemic has taught us that roles and responsibility need to be shared. The first teachers, our parents have equal responsibility to help students develop focus, confidence and motivation. On the online platform, while teachers do their best by making a good plan for their lesson delivery, students on their part need to put in required efforts to make virtual class a wholesome learning experience. Learning on the virtual platform has offered a significant scope for students to become independent learners, enabling them to explore their abilities for time management, development of 21st century skills and taking ownership of their learning journey through online and offline mode of learning. Parents and teachers should continue to encourage students and motivate them towards resilience in being responsible proactive lifelong learners. As elaborated in one of the articles on the e-learning industry website, teachers may also use the Keller’s ARCS (attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction) Model which is found to be helpful to sustain student motivation and engagement on e-learning portals. Once students realize their capacity to learn and monitor their learning outcome, it will only help them remain intrinsically motivated for life.
In conclusion, along with these aspects, parents, teachers and students need to realize that they are equal stakeholders in ensuring meaningful and relevant learning happening for the students and prudently integrate strategies that work in order to support the overall learning experience.