How do you engage with students behind a screen? Consider online students a strictly elusive species, seldom seen on campus unless they’re meeting a professor or have an appointment with academic advising. So how do you bring students to campus when they’ve brought the education to the comfort of their homes? Expand your ground, target your audience and give them incentive to get involved.
Expand Your Ground
Bring them into the community. Get them involved with more than just school. Let them see the world up close and not just behind a screen. Give them something to experience, not click. Organize coffee shop meet-ups, movie night premieres, artist workshops and museum tours. Introduce them to the world outside a classroom and let them see how much community events benefit them.
Target Your Audience
Experiment with major-specific events on campus. Targeting specific majors can draw a more concentrated audience that may not have attended an overall guest lecture or homecoming event. Gearing events towards specific majors gives students an opportunity to connect with other students at different levels within the same major along with increasing the incentive to attend more campus events. These events will give the students a greater sense of purpose to come to campus, rather than clicking into class and shorting themselves of any semblance of a college experience.
Give Them Incentive
Extra credit opportunity events generally have a pleasing outcome. Create events professors sponsor or promote for their classes to receive extra credit for if they attend. These events give students a more hands-on, personal learning outside of the classroom. While extra credit events give students a grade boost for attending an event they may not have originally considered, students may find the event or speaker particularly interesting, ultimately opening them to more event participation in the future.
With these three techniques, there’s a key plan of attack for engaging online students. Bring the community to the students, focus on major-specific events and giving incentive to get students involved will have students closing their laptops and opening doors to both the community and campus.