Interactive Tools for Online Learning
The popularity of online learning has skyrocketed in recent years. While some institutions have made the transition to online platforms to support online teaching and learning, others have struggled to find the right interactive tools for online education. With more and more students participating in classes online, it’s imperative that instructors become familiar with some of the best practices in online teaching as well as study tools for college students in order to ensure a positive experience, both for themselves and their students.
Teaching online classes is undoubtedly different from teaching traditional, face-to-face courses, but learning how to navigate this new digital landscape is crucial for those working in education today. Whether you are an experienced educator or just going into your first year of teaching, you can improve the effectiveness of your digital classroom by following a few best practices in online teaching and using innovative teaching tools. By implementing the kinds of learning tools for students, designed for this kind of delivery of education, you can improve your teaching strategy and make a smoother transition to digital learning.
The best online learning tools for college students make it simple and easy for instructors to effectively manage online courses. Essential tools for college students, these kind of educational technology tools for students make it easy to discover and engage with course content, classmates, and their instructor.
Effective Online Teaching Tools
The bottom line is that having access to the most effective online teaching tools to power learning is paramount. The best interactive tools for online learning ensure that the technology is inclusive of different learners’ styles, fosters social connection and community, and is designed to help instructors track student participation could spell the difference between student success or attrition.
To do all of this, some institutions rely on a variety of online learning tools for students that happen to be disconnected tools that aren’t fully integrated with the LMS — creating additional barriers for instructors and making it more difficult to create a cohesive learning experience that engages students.
A suite of digital tools for online teaching and learning, Harmonize offers a range of connected tools for improving student engagement. Some examples of teaching tools include rich multimedia discussion and Q&A boards, polling, chat, and more — all of which allow students to participate in the ways that work best for them. Using online tools for student engagement increases the quality and quantity of student-to-student, student-to-content, and student-to-instructor interactions.
- Online discussion boards with rich multimedia
- Video annotation, image annotation tool, online annotation tool
- Built-in Chat, Polling & Q&A
- Tagging, Notification & Reactions
- Streamlined Grading to Save Instructors Time & Focus on Feedback
Harmonize’s digital learning tools for online teaching integrate seamlessly with your LMS to facilitate a more engaging online learning experience. It’s everything an instructor needs to increase student engagement online and promote inclusive learning, while saving time and eliminating manual tasks.
While face-to-face learning has a place, increasingly, learning is being conducted through digital channels. This can be cost effective, convenient, and easier to manage for students, and also for educators it translates to being able to reach people from a distance. For distance learning, online learning platforms have become essential. With learning tools in education, institutions can facilitate learning from any location.
Online Learning Tools Examples
Let’s see some of these online tools in action and the benefits they’re delivering to instructors! When it comes to online learning tools examples, many institutions are trying to figure out how to measure student engagement. An important element of online teaching tools is tracking student engagement — which is not possible when an institution relies on a variety of disconnected digital learning tools that aren’t fully integrated with the LMS.
For example, consider the heavy lift required for grading students when all of these instances or examples of teaching tools are disconnected or not integrated with the LMS. When instructors at Brown University started using an LMS-integrated online discussion platform for students to evaluate student participation, it drastically reduced many of the time-consuming tasks often involved with assessing student work and allowed more time for instructors to provide constructive feedback.
Instructors often had to dig through 60-page discussion threads, as well as search through activities in other systems, like WordPress and Google docs – some learning tools examples. This meant additional hours and the manual task of entering grades in the LMS. With a consolidated, comprehensive set of tools, instructors can:
- Easily see students’ posts, alongside subsequent responses and contributions to the course, which provides a more holistic view of how well students are developing — the streamlined grading experience allowing them to focus on giving feedback.
- Eliminate manual work, like copying & pasting into a plagiarism checker or transferring grades, to save time.
- Identify and keep at-risk students engaged.
- More easily address regular & substantive interaction (RSI) requirements.
Instructors agree. At Fayetteville State University, 100% of instructors indicated feeling better equipped to evaluate participation when they used Harmonize’s discussion & collaboration tools. These study tools examples work together, integrated with the LMS and allow you to build more engaging online courses, you’ll end up having something so much more powerful: student engagement data and the know how to measure student engagement online.
With behind-the-scenes analytics built into your course activities, instructors and administrators can quickly understand how students are progressing toward goals, and what course activities are working. You can see who, how, and when students are participating in courses, which students need more attention, and which topics worked best. In addition to implementing best practice student engagement strategies, these kinds of student engagement insights can help instructors trigger customized outreach to specific students — promptly and proactively re-engaging them in discussion and working to get them back on track. It’s an easy and effective way to help instructors improve engagement and retention in their courses — but not possible when the data doesn’t exist or is scattered among several disparate online teaching tools.
Online Annotation Tool for Students
Of all the interactive tools for online learning, two have tremendous impact: the online annotation for students and the online discussion board.
Studies also show that digital annotation tools help students understand and construct knowledge around scholarly content, while at the same time building community — which has shown to increase student engagement. Social annotation tools are the natural evolution of collaborative learning and reading in online spaces — collaborative student-to-student learning proven to lessen isolation during online learning and improve student performance. Instead of students engaging in discussions about a text in a corner of a learning management platform, they congregate over the source itself right from within the online course. And not just text, but video annotation and an image annotation tool allow for more collaborative digital workspaces.
Students who engage in online social annotation also build consensus, support each other, and debate. For example, they might negotiate a definition or interpretation, empathize with each other, or offer a different point of view in a direct reply.
An online annotation tool allows instructors and students to comment collaboratively on a piece of content, similar to using a highlighter marker or writing in the margins, only digitally, in various documents including PDFs as well as on image and video materials. Students go online and open an article, book, graph, photo, webpage or other object of study. Then, working asynchronously, they highlight passages and add digital comments, questions, links, images or audio, or video clips. Plus, students can annotate images and videos. Kind of amazing, right? So how can you use them to encourage better discussions, improve student engagement and retention, and simplify discussion facilitation and feedback?
Well, instructors should incorporate this online image annotation tool, along with video and text annotation, into their LMS-powered courses. While LMSs often power online learning, online instructors may find themselves wondering how to annotate within LMS software. Unfortunately, it can’t be done; this capability is not built into every LMS — and yet it remains one of the most important features for engaging students in collaborative work online. However, instructors can still incorporate social annotation tools into their courses by simply plugging in annotation software to their LMS environments.
Online Discussion Board
In addition, the online discussion board, also known by various other names such as discussion forum or online discussion platform, is a term for any online communication board where you can leave messages and expect to see responses to your messages. For instructors, the online discussion board serves as a mode for asynchronous discussion online in fully online, blended or hybrid courses. The online discussion board for students allows course participants to collaborate with others at their convenience by posting thoughts, comments or reactions and answering questions outside of a physical classroom.
Lively online discussion boards as well as student-to-student and small-group collaboration are among the hallmarks of face-to-face courses. But when it comes to learning online, some argue it’s difficult to replicate the value of these interactions. While a staple of strictly online courses for years, the online discussion board — just one of the many tools for online education — is finally finding traction in both traditional and blended courses — leveraged as collaboration activities for students online that work to reinforce course concepts and engage students in deeper reflection outside the classroom.
The online discussion board is proving to be a powerful tool. The benefits of discussion boards in online learning include fostering a sense of community and encouraging student-to-student interaction, which research demonstrates improves learner engagement and achievement. Discussion boards for students give all learners the opportunity to expand and clarify their understanding of key ideas. It moves beyond the passive learning forms of reading and listening and allows the learner to actively engage with their peers and instructor.
Online Learning Tools
While there’s no shortage of effective online teaching tools and online learning resources on the market, the most effective online study tools foster connection and community as well as provide learners with an active role and responsibility in their learning. When you look to compare online course platforms, consider ones that provide the following capabilities:
- Discussion Board Tools that Fuel Connection
- Video & Annotation Tools for Content Creation & Feedback
- Polls & Q&A Tools for Interactive Communication
- Chat Tools for 1:1 and Small Group Collaboration
Keep in mind, not all interactive tools for online learning, including video and discussion board tools, are created equal. Each has varying degrees of integration with video conferencing tools — important for synchronous online class sessions — as well as differences in hosting, viewing, creation/editing, auto-captioning capabilities, mobile readiness, and capabilities for how to increase student engagement in online learning.
Equally important, the process of question & answer is a foundational aspect of online teaching that is often treated as an afterthought. Too little, and you’re asking for disengagement. But with a tool that allows you to conduct both polling and Q&A sessions with students, you have the opportunity to support better collaboration in online learning. In a study that analyzed online Q&As, results showed students interacted more on a voluntary basis with each other as well as with the instructor, supporting both their own process of inquiry as well as other students’ process of inquiry. Results also indicated that students acquired meta-cognitive development.
Finally, online chat can create a space where students can interact and talk with one another. It can be a public space where all messages can be seen by members of the chat, and at the same time, most applications have a private feature so that students or instructors can discuss one-on-one. This is easy and instant communication, and gives every student a voice — even those naturally shy ones.
That’s a lot of digital tools for online teaching, a lot to keep track of, and a lot of potential barriers for students and instructors. Now what if you had just one student engagement platform to replace all of these different tools? One with all of these functions built-in, connected to one another, and seamlessly integrated with your LMS — managing online learning and tracking student engagement would be a lot easier.