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Arkansas State University

Embracing Online Classes and Creating Engaging Online Learning Experiences

Online learning offers many benefits despite the challenges highlighted in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic, educators have become increasingly literate and creative with online learning and the use of digital tools. Many have adapted long-time classroom strategies and for the digital space and even implemented some new ideas.

Inside Higher Ed 2023 data notes that while most faculty prefer in-person teaching, there is still a demand and use for hybrid and online learning. Of those surveyed, 20% said they prefer to teach hybrid courses with in-person and online elements, and 18% said they prefer fully online courses. This means that educational leaders and curriculum professionals of today must grasp various learning modalities.

The Arkansas State University (A-State) Education Specialist in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director online program prepares graduates to use technology and digital tools in educational leadership and curriculum roles. Students learn to embrace hybrid, in-person and remote learning settings while engaging learners.

Graduates of the program will also possess the necessary problem-solving and preparation skills to develop enriching learning environments in digital classrooms and learning spaces. As the program page notes, graduates can step into the role of curriculum director — the person responsible for “school or district instructional materials including the evaluation and development of educational programs, textbooks, classroom technology, and teacher professional development.”

Educational leaders and curriculum specialists can encourage the following teaching strategies to improve digital and online learning environments:

Use Virtual Breakout Rooms

Digital meetings make it easier than ever to split classes into groups for breakout discussions, or for teachers to flip the dynamics of the classroom settings in other ways. An Edutopia article titled “8 Strategies to Improve Participation in Your Virtual Classroom” suggests incorporating group activities for students to discuss their responses and record them in a digital document to share with the class upon regrouping. The document keeps the students accountable for their work.

Share Popular Media

Sharing movies, TV shows or other popular visual media in a classroom setting isn’t always a simple proposition. Screen-sharing in digital classrooms helps students engage, and adding live internet resources to a lesson puts a vast collection of popular media right at teachers’ fingertips. If your lesson could benefit from visual cues, cultural references or any of a million other pieces of art that are searchable on the Internet, it’s never been easier to share them with your students.

According to, using digital media alongside non-digital lessons has a number of benefits for learners. These include longer attention span; increased intrinsic motivation to learn; better classroom participation and engagement; greater academic achievement; and stronger digital literacy.

Engage Students With Video

An Inside HigherEd article suggests having your students demonstrate their “exploring, editing and creative skills” in order to better engage them in a digital classroom. Given the number of videos that younger generations consume on a daily basis, offering assignments and allowing them to respond in that medium are a practical approach. Consider allowing students to submit video responses to certain questions. You can also configure assignments that fit the medium in ways that suit your students.

Highlight the Individual Experiences of Students

Unlike being in person, students learning in a digital setting exist in different places in the physical world. Asking students to share a bit about what’s happening in their lives can be an easy, low-stakes way to create engagement, learn about different students and foster community. Not all students want to disclose personal information, so it’s important not to push anyone. However, getting students to share anecdotes or experiences can open classroom discussions in general.

Use a Variety of Assessment Tools

The National Association of Secondary School Principals suggests giving students a variety of submission options. For instance, digital classrooms can simplify presenting technical topics like creating HTML websites. Allowing students to create different kinds of responses, when appropriate, is an excellent way to promote individual approaches and diverse ways of thinking.

Try Asynchronous Activities

Although synchronous or real-time discussions more closely resemble a traditional classroom structure, asynchronous activities can also offer remarkable benefits. Crucially, as Edutopia notes, this type of work can often be more equitable because it creates more opportunities for engagement among students who had “low (internet) bandwidth, who had schedule limitations, or who were uncomfortable engaging with the full class.”

An advanced degree focused on educational leadership or curriculum development can equip educators and education professionals with tools and teaching strategies for the digital learning space. Graduates of A-State’s online program can pursue roles like curriculum director, director of leadership development, leadership development and evaluation coordinator, instructional coordinator and education support specialist. After all, the future of education is sure to include more technology, and preparing for this digital future is one of the best ways to succeed in the field.

Learn more about A-State’s online Education Specialist in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director online program.

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