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Keeping Online Students Engaged


The first week of an online class is critical for several reasons but the most critical are getting the student to:

  • start and stay engaged in the class
  • read and understand the syllabus
  • gain familiarity with the learning management system (LMS)
  • submit a substantive post to prove active course participation.  

When teaching online, I do some things that seem to work to keep the student engaged and active in the course. 


Before class Introduction


A week before the first day of class, I send an email to all registered students to introduce myself, thank them for taking my class, and to provide them with the syllabus.


Day one


On the first day of class, I send an email that welcomes them to the class, lets them know how to get started in the class, which is always to click the "Start Here" tab in the Blackboard or Canvas, as I design each class with a button that tells the student where to start.  In addition, I start a discussion that requires the student to submit a self-introduction and a written acknowledgement that they have read and understood the syllabus.  My students are required to reply to my post and two of their classmates.


Weekly announcement and email


I set my classes up to start on Mondays.  Each Monday, I post a course announcement to let them know which tasks they need to complete during the week, a recap of the prior week, and when I will return grades for any work they previously submitted. I also click the option to send an immediate email to each student enrolled in the class when using Blackboard.  When using Canvas, I craft an email; which is essentially a cut and paste of the announcement, and click option to send an email to each student.  After I post the announcement, I place a copy in my "Weekly Class Email" section (that I set up when I designed the course) so that if any students claim that they did not receive the email, they have a place of reference to access my weekly email messages. 


Thank you DocRich for giving me some excellent ideas. I read your first two suggestions and patted myself on the back because I have accomplished those tasks. However, when I read your third suggestion, I paused and thought.

No, I don't post an announcement every Monday. I will incorporate it this week.


I am so glad you joined the community and was able to visit with you at TCCTA.

Engaging Essie