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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Online Instruction

Engagement Best Practices

An important aspect to successful online instruction is engaging with students in an intentional and meaningful manner. Below is a list of some best practices related to online engagement:

  • Develop a welcoming and open environment at the beginning of the session by making conversation with early arrivals or by doing a quick icebreaker at the beginning of the session
  • Provide an outline of how the session will be taught, the purpose or learning outcomes for the session, and an overview of how students should expect to participate.
  • Be clear on how you would like students to participate (unmuting, typing in chat, raised hands, reactions/emojis, polls, etc.) and provide an early, low-stakes opportunity for them to practice using the feature you'd like them to use.
  • Give students adequate time to engage with activities or questions you provide, especially if you want students to type out answers in a chat as that often takes extra time.
  • Scaffold the types of engagement activities throughout the session by first starting with lower stakes exercises (e.g. anonymous poll) before moving to higher stakes exercises (e.g. class discussion) in order to foster a learning environment students feel comfortable participating in.

Engagement Tools

There are a variety of online tools and software that are great for getting students to participate, engage, and work collaboratively during an online session. Below is a short list of some commonly used engagement tools including a brief description and a link for more information:

Zoom Whiteboard - is a Zoom feature that allows the meeting host to share a whiteboard with other participants where people can annotate on.

Zoom Polls - is a Zoom feature that allows the meeting host to create single choice or multiple choice polling questions for a meeting. The host can launch poll questions during a meeting and collect responses from the attendees. 

Padlet - is an online platform that allows users to create digital walls where students can post notes in real-time.  Padlet is the virtual equivalent to writing on a sticky note and putting it up on the wall. 

Kahoot - is a game-based learning platform where you can create, share and play learning games or trivia quizzes with your students. 

Google Jamboard - is a whiteboard that allows the user(s) to write, draw, insert images, and collaborate in real time. 

Additional Resources

Developing Effective Discussions:

Creating a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment:

New to Online Instruction