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How to motivate students during distance learning

Stop using grades as motivation. Instead, Connect virtual learning to intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic rewards come from internal motivation instead of external rewards like grades. Developing a culture of intrinsic motivation is the key to sustainable success in a virtual learning classroom. 

TeacherMade helps students and students while distance learning

Give autonomy to students while remote teaching.

Students are more likely to be enthusiastic about remote learning when there is a sense of autonomy. The good news, distance learning is perfect for giving students a sense of autonomy. A way to do this is to give students a choice whenever possible. In a distance learning classroom, this could be done by giving students a choice between two different assignments or simply how they can demonstrate knowledge.

TeacherMade makes remote learning adaptable for different types of learners. Our app makes it easy to adapt a variety of assignments for the digital classroom. Tiffany S. explains how she easily adapts assignments in her classroom to give students a sense of autonomy:

”I am also a big fan of the suite of drawing tools available through TeacherMade.  The ability to add in lines, boxes, circles, highlights, and freehand draw gives so many opportunities to punch up an assignment.  When choosing to incorporate these tools, I take the time to consider if I am offering students opportunities to practice skills, differentiate the instruction for varied types of learners, or reinforcing concepts/skills that have been modeled in the classroom.”

The key to giving students autonomy in your classroom is giving choices. Even simple things like allowing students to choose how they complete an assignment can increase buy-in. TeacherMade makes it easy to adapt an assignment to fit a variety of learning styles.

Promote competence while online learning

Often students lose motivation because they don’t feel competent in the digital classroom. It can be something as basic as not feeling comfortable on the online learning platforms. You can change this as a Teacher. Before introducing any new forms of technology, teach your students how to use it. TeacherMade offers sound clips that can be attached to any assignment. This way, you can coach your students with your actual voice. Teacher Maria G. explains how she incorporates these into her online digital assignments:

The sound bites were a hit with them because they were able to hear instructions read to them. This meant that they were more independent. The reason I decided to add in the sound bites was mainly that they were not readers and a lot of the time there was no one available during the Google Meet to assist them with their work. I would read out the instruction to the entire class with examples of what was expected, but often there were students that either was distracted or came late to class and didn’t hear the instruction. Instead of me re-reading the instruction over and over, I would direct them to the sound bite first. Then if after they heard the sound bite, they needed an explanation, I would then assist them. This saved my voice so much.”

TeacherMade sound clips also bring up another great point about competence: if you can’t explain the activity in a short sound clip, it probably isn’t a good fit. If your remote learning activity isn’t easy to explain, don’t do it. Your physical distance already makes communication tricky, so keep your activities simple. Don’t worry. There’s just a few directions involved with a TeacherMade activity. 

Establish a sense of relatedness with online learning platforms

This one can be especially tough in an online classroom, but often student needs to feel a sense of relatedness to truly find motivation and perform. They need to feel connected to their class. This can sometimes look like keeping up with their peers or working hard to be respected. But either way, students need to feel like they are part of a learning community to know their learning is connected to others. 

You have the most control over how you communicate with your students. So focus on this first. With distance learning, this comes first in how you talk to your students as a group. So that might mean extra time on Zoom. But then you can establish relationships through personalized communication. Even something as simple as feedback on assignments can mean the world to students. TeacherMade has self-grading functionality, but it also allows students to leave personalized feedback. Even a quick note of, “I know this has been tough, and you rocked this” can go so far with building a sense of relatedness in the classroom.

Finally, feeling connected in the classroom isn’t solely about the student/teacher relationship. It also comes from how students contribute together. The group dynamics of a classroom are everything. Students have to know that their questions and comments contribute to the larger learning experience of students in the class. Learning is a team sport. Without student questions and comments, the teacher is just having a one-sided conversation. Each student contributes to the group’s learning. So this can be where motivation can drop off in online school. Students don’t see the point of asking questions virtually, and then engagement drops. So it’s essential to specifically establish these norms in your distance learning classroom. Encourage activities like think-pair-share, even if it can be challenging to do digitally. 

Keep things relevant

It can be so hard to keep every lesson relevant to your students’ lives when trying to check off standards for a big state test. But relevancy in the classroom keeps your students coming back for more. The good news here, students know that they are entering a workforce that will be heavily involved with technology. So the virtual classroom doesn’t scare them. 

Make it a mission of your lesson planning to establish relevancy for each lesson and assignment. Tiffany S., a forensics teacher, uses TeacherMade for real-world forensics career training: 

The first trick that I learned to use in order to increase engagement and comprehension for my Forensic Science Students was to use Hot Spots.  I incorporate this tool into any assignment or lab activity in which students have to match fingerprints, find differences between different pictures, or have to cite evidence from a report or testimony to support their claims.  Students respond well to being able to choose appropriate spots as opposed to coming up with their own text or explanation.  I find that the information tends to stick a bit more as well. “

Framing activities as a real-world skill will instantly ignite your students’ natural curiosity, and this is one of the best ways to increase intrinsic motivation in the online classroom.

Are you frustrated by the lack of motivation in your online classroom?

Try streamlining your assignments, so you don’t lose your students.