Connecting During COVID: How to Repurpose Your Teaching Toolbox

Online Learning and Student Engagement
Business Communication
Reading Time: 2 minutes

By: Courtney Pham, Senior Marketing Instructor, Missouri State University


The year 2020 was strange and challenging. The pandemic came fast, furious and unexpectedly to the global community and affected industries around the world simultaneously.

Many organizations had little choice but to rethink and redefine their forms of communication and operating procedures. Most took up the democratic approach by surveying employees’ concerns.

Based on the results, these organizations then responded and accommodated their employees to ensure the continuing level of productivity. Of course, listening alone is not the resolution unless the bottom line is involved.

Here’s how the same process applies to the academic environment:

College and Online Learning

Educational institutions across the US debated on how they’d reopen with the potential of facing the “twindemic.” Many schools addressed this concern by pivoting to remote learning and/or expanding current online course options.

Digital tools such as Zoom became a requirement to connect and accommodate the increased online students’ presence.

But, this presented a challenge for some instructors, as it added a layer of communication barriers. Discouraged students struggled to stay active due to the physical disconnect between instructors and students.

Increasing Student Engagement

Many faculty members are adequately trained with the digital tools to teach their students either synchronously or asynchronously.

However, research shows that if students are presented with some interrelated activities in any teaching pattern, then students’ engagement level—be it cognitive, emotional, or behavioral—amplifies in the classroom.

This thinking can boost students’ attitude toward online classes. Instructors who add this value to their teaching toolkit help students relate learnings to everyday experiences. To bring these concepts to life, it’s crucial to build a good rapport and understand students.

The responsibility of keeping students engaged and on track in online courses mostly rest on the instructor’s shoulders.

Integrate these quick tips into your teaching approach to encourage student engagement in an online setting:

Online Learning Tips

  • Get to know students and their interests by frequently communicating to formulate discussion topics
  • Organize synchronous discussion sessions by integrating modern technologies (some examples: digital tools such as Zoom, Echo360, etc.)
  • Provide incentives such as extra credits to attend synchronous discussions to foster competition among students
  • Provide timely and regular feedback to encourage students’ progress

Keep Learning: On-Demand Webinar

Want to uncover more tips and tricks for online engagement and instruction?  Watch this recording of the webinar Creating Strategic & Conscientious Business Leaders.

Myself, along with Holly Hapke of the University of Kentucky, share online learning strategies for combining your teaching style with technology to increase student engagement.