Keeping students engaged – online

Elon stresses the importance of student engagement in the classroom. So how can you keep students active and on their toes when they’re taking your class online?

Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) held a meeting for new online faculty in mid-October. During the hour luncheon, they were introduced to the 2012 online mentors, Dr. Harlen Makemson, Associate Professor of Communications, and Dr. Karl Sienerth, Professor of Chemistry. They will provide guidance to faculty who are enhancing or modifying a face-to-face course for an online environment for the 2012 summer I session.

Drs. Makemson and Sienerth were selected as TLT online mentors for their creative approaches to online teaching. Sienerth taught “CSI Reality: Chemistry from the Cutting Room Floor,” a forensics class with a focus on chemistry. His students watched and critiqued episodes of shows like CSI: Miami and pointed out the flaws in scientific methods on the shows. They also used fingerprint analysis to identify the murderer in a set-up crime scene. Throughout the course, Sienerth had his students keep journals about their daily activities and the class connections to real life.

“They got pretty excited about it a lot of times,” he said. Students were especially impressed to notice that Sienerth was reading and commenting on each of their journal entries.

Makemson taught “Media History, Media Today,” a required class for journalism majors, online. He delivered daily course materials on a WordPress-based blog and linked to the radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” and YouTube videos that he shows in his traditional face-to-face class. Makemson also used, a web site that allows users to create stories using a variety of social media.

For the past eight years, TLT has selected summer online faculty mentors based on course organization and innovative use of academic technology. This program complements the training and consultation that TLT provides to online faculty.

With the advancement of new online technology and social media, students can reap the benefits of both active learning and a flexible schedule through online classes.


Laura Van Drie

Laura Van Drie

Laura Van Drie works as a Marketing Writer at Teaching and Learning Technologies. She is a rising junior at Elon majoring in strategic communications.

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  1. Posted November 17, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    This is a great project! Class engagement is not always a measure of future success, but allowing students to do so definitely makes them more involved and better students.


  2. Posted November 25, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I’d like to use some of this in my blog-some great ideas expressed here.

  3. Posted November 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate this class engagement posting.

  4. Posted January 7, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    @John Brady, yeah I also appreciate this class engagement posting…