Engagement Strategies that Work

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

Quality online education practices involve the most effective means to engage a varied higher education student population. This means that fundamental activities in the online classroom—Topic Presentations/Lessons, Discussions, and Assignments—should feature creative educational strategies that enhance the learning process. Interested students=Involved students=Informed students!


Dr. J. Louis Spencer is the Department Chair for Educational Leadership and Student Life in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education as well as Associate Professor in the School of Business at American Public University System (APUS). Jan previously served as the Faculty Director for 100+ instructors in the education programs at APUS, which involved maintaining a high quality of teaching practice through training and educating for success. He continues to maintain a weekly faculty blog so that instructors are kept up to date regarding teaching practices as well as university events. Jan received a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry from Life Pacific University, an M.A. in Religion from Azusa Pacific University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. His research focuses on vision conflict—the disparity between what employees expect their work to be like versus what they actually experience on the job.

Extended Abstract

The most successful online educational professionals tend to be those who maintain an interest in the acquisition of the most effective skills, tools, and strategies for teaching and learning.  With the myriad of responsibilities that go into online instruction, along with maintaining a vital collegial role among other faculty members while and fulfilling your institution’s initiatives and mandates, finding sufficient time to locate those most-appropriate tools and strategies to keep students engaged throughout the weeks of the class may be a big challenge. This session will present numerous easy-to-use strategies aimed at enhancing course elements so that student engagement in the online classroom is high. Interested students=Involved students=Informed students!

Three areas of online course development and instruction continue to rise to the forefront of importance for those who desire to inspire the best from their students: Development of value-added lessons that infuse inspiration into the learning process through the use of media, optional synchronous class meetings, and lecture styles; Construction of varied-types of forum discussions that invite substantive interaction between students and faculty through the use of simulations, various group approaches, and media tools; and, Production of creative assignments that are innovative and media-rich so that learning is worth the time spent (no more weekly papers only!).

The session will also give opportunity to share best practices in implementing engagement strategies in course development and that tend to result in the greatest student satisfaction and continuing persistence. Don’t we tend to glean many of our ideas when we come together and share them together? Plus, perhaps you have an inkling about some tools that you would like to discuss with others in the teaching community. The cultivation of an environment of inquiry and engagement in our online classrooms will result in an unforgettable learning experience.

LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION: By coming together and sharing ideas—both by the session leader and by some of those in attendance—we will discover fresh and exciting ways to enhance the overall learning experience in our online classrooms. One of the ways we will accomplish this is by hearing from the session leader and then forming groups that come up with “the best idea of the group” to share with the corporate body of attendees. The “room” will vote which of the ideas from groups is the best for each of the three areas—Topic Presentations/Lessons, Discussions, Assignments—covered in the session. The impromptu “sharers” will each receive a participation gift.

SESSION GOALS: Attendees will benefit from hearing about important practices and strategies that result in greater engagement by students in the online classroom. Attendees will walk away with ideas—some new, some oldies but goodies, but all worthwhile for the enhancement of the online learning environment. Attendees will be able to hear contemporary ideas from colleagues that relate to the enhancement of three important areas of online practice Topic Presentations/Lessons, Discussions, and Assignments). Finally, attendees will come away with useable ideas for their own online classroom(s) and have some fun along the way.