Jo Smith, University of Auckland Karen Schreder, California State University, Chico and Lorna Porter, WestEd

Online learning platforms offer flexibility in the delivery of instruction at all levels of education. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many schools worldwide made an abrupt transition to teaching online as governments instituted stay-at-home measures.

In light of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, distance learning has definite benefits for ensuring teaching and learning can continue. Understanding the impact of how instructors choose to engage with various online delivery formats to maximise attentiveness is important for engagement in learning.

Key Contributions

  • Findings help inform how to tailor the format and delivery of courses to maximise attentiveness and overall learning.
  • There are clear considerations in online course delivery in terms of length and synchronicity that contribute to engagement levels.
  • A mix of in-person and online students contributes to lower engagement for those online.
  • Offering a mix of asynchronous self-paced learning and synchronous discussion and small group time increase student attentiveness and engagement with course material. Online classes can be broken up into 30 minute segments that vary to increase attentiveness.
  • For example, a lecture followed by partner work or group discussions has greater attentiveness than lecture-only classes.

Key Policy Implications

  • Research findings can contribute toward clear guidelines, frameworks and training for course instructors to adapt to new and evolving teaching methods while maintaining the overall quality of learning.
  • MoE and TEC policies about online learning formats and conditions can increase student engagement to enhance learning.
  • Further research on online course delivery is crucial to understanding what increases attentiveness and engagement as courses continue to conduct distance, online and hybrid learning formats.

Read the full briefing ‘Are they paying attention, or are they shoe-shopping?’ here.

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