Student Engagement in Moodle™ – Moving Beyond Gamification

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Online training is driven by student motivation. In fact, the success of the training program depends on it. It’s up to students to complete the courses they take up, and Student Engagement is a big part of the equation.

As a trainer, you want students to stay engaged and motivated. You want them to complete their courses on time. You want those positive reviews, the 5-star ratings— the reassurance that things are going well! We all do.

The reality is, it’s not as easy.

“97% of college students are distracted by phones during class”

Journal of Media Education

Students get distracted, they lack motivation, and learning suffers.   

According to The State Press, students say they struggle to focus on content that lacks visuals, or on topics that are not of their interest. We have to tackle these issues head-on, which means, engagement is key.

Student Engagement in Online Training

When it comes to student engagement, the immediate benefit that online training platforms like Moodle™ offer are the many options to present content. Instead of plain text or speech, which can be perceived as “boring”, you can add visuals, videos, animations, to make the content more interesting.

You’ll have also noticed the term “Gamification” topping several listicles talking about making learning more engaging. Gamification is the use of game-like scenarios in the training process. It’s the use of leaderboards, badges, points, and actual games to add a sense of competition in learning. Gamification isn’t about implementing a single tactic but is about integrating several concepts to invoke interest and engagement.

While gamification is a reigning concept, there’s a lot more you can do that might not require as much effort and management.

It Begins by Creating the Right Environment

Whether it be traditional classroom training or online learning, the environment plays an important role. In a classroom, it’s the color of walls, the amount of natural light flowing in, the tables, the chairs. In the online space, it’s the colors of your website, the adequate use of whitespace, the font, and everything else related to the student interface.

Interface elements, primarily font and color, have to be considered for a conducive learning experience.

  • Font: Research says, that it’s not font-size, but font-style that can affect learning. Now, that probably depends on the courses you’re offering, but experimenting with font type, font-style (bold, italics), is a must. It can certainly improve plain blocks of text, can add better emphasis to certain words or sentences, and can help convey your tone accurately.
  • Color: As per a post on The Psychology of Color in the Educational Environment, color directly impacts concentration and learning. It’s important to choose the right color based on the age-group of students and the learning content.

To make sure you create a favorable learning environment, you have to pick a suitable theme for your learning platform. In the case of Moodle, you need a theme that can be easily customized as per your preferences. A theme like Edwiser RemUI has pre-built color options but also allows you to set custom colors and font for your learning website.

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Spruce Up Courses with Interactive Content

Images, animations, videos are any day a plus over text. Although, you should not think of them as a replacement for text. They can be used in combination with text to explain concepts. But if you want to go a step further and make the content even more interesting, you can consider adding interactive content.

Interactive content is content learners can communicate with in real-time. It transforms content that’s traditionally one-directional, into a two-way street. Students can click to engage with content, swipe/slide, and perform operations to get some result.

In the Moodle space, a plugin that works to this end is H5P. With H5P you can add interactive videos, quizzes, collages, and timelines.

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Encourage Collaboration

A simple way to ensure Student Engagement is to give them opportunities to collaborate. Collaborative learning encourages communication and improves a student’s problem-solving skills. Collaboration could mean setting up group assignments or creating forums where students can discuss course content or any doubts they have.

Creating a social network can also benefit students and consquently contribute to Student Engagement. In Moodle, you can create student groups, use shared workspaces like Google Drive as platforms for collaboration.

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Communicate: Offer Timely Feedback

You cannot underestimate the role communication plays, to keep students engaged. Communication could mean sending students notifications on sign-up, enrollment, course completion or certain achievements. Offering them assurance about their progress, boosting them on, can impact them positively and can keep them interested. Automated emails can help here, to reduce clerical errors.

Being accessible also plays a key role. You want to make it easy for students to talk to you or send you messages. An in-built messaging system can help here.

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You should also offer students feedback on their performance and encourage communication and discussion to build their interest.

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Live Up to the Hype

While the above discussed tactics work amazingly well, what you can’t ignore is the quality of your courses. Make sure you make the course content as easy to understand as possible. Add the right amount of graphics to explain difficult concepts and make use of real-world explains to help students understand course content better.

Your students’ response, engagement, interaction, emotion levels can make or break your courses. So make sure you pay attention to and foster a positive learning experience. 🙂

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