Industry Spotlight

Valuable insights from UPCEA's trusted corporate partners.

Three Ways to Improve Communication and Increase Student Engagement

It’s no secret that COVID-19 disrupted higher education. Overnight, students and instructors shifted from traditional, face-to-face instruction to a fully-virtual model. Student retention was already top-of-mind for college and university administrators. But this sudden shift made the challenge of keeping students engaged even more difficult.


A return to traditional, in-person learning is imminent. But as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, research shows that many students want to keep some online or hybrid courses in their schedule. For that reason, instructors should incorporate new ways of engagement into their everyday practice. Here are three ways your institution can help today’s students stay engaged whether they are in the classroom or online:


  1. Make it social. Today’s students use social media to easily interact with family and friends. So to them, traditional, threaded discussions are less intuitive and visually unappealing. Encourage instructors to communicate with their students in ways that mimic social media platforms. Give students the ability to “like” a comment, or to react using an emoji or a meme.  That way, students can engage with their instructor and classmates in a way that is familiar and engaging. 


  1. Motivate with multiple due dates. Receiving a syllabus at the beginning of a semester can be daunting. But when you break down assigned discussions into smaller posts, the task at hand becomes more achievable. Look for tools that allow instructors to assign multiple due dates to assignments within a single discussion. Students can post throughout the week and use @mentions to connect with their classmates, keeping them more engaged in the conversation.


  1. Mix up the medium. Using rich media like video, audio, and images engages students in new ways, leading to richer discussions. When instructors embed rich media into discussion posts, students can interact with course content in a way that is engaging – and familiar. Make it easy for instructors to embed these capabilities within their discussions so that the interactive experience is seamless for students and instructors.


Regardless of how you are teaching — in-person, online, or a blend of both — it’s certain that online learning will continue to play a role.  But employing these simple tips will go a long way to keeping students engaged, no matter the format they choose.


Harmonize offers a suite of engagement tools that fully integrates with leading Learning Management Systems to provide an interactive space that inspires participation and discussion. Unlike conventional online discussion platforms that rely on “threaded discussions,” Harmonize works like the social platforms students use outside of school. Capabilities like Harmonize Chat, multiple due dates, and Harmonize Q&A allow students to connect directly with classmates over the course of a discussion, fostering   richer peer-to-peer and instructor-to-student interactions.



More Industry Spotlights:

Making the Case: Marketing to Adult Learners with Data

With enrollments declining and as a tight labor market reaches record-low unemployment,, marketers and recruiters in higher education now face the difficult task of finding new students in...

SEO & Digital Advertising: Jet Fuel for Your Higher Education Marketing Strategy

If you were asked what digital channels facilitate your most qualified prospects’ journey to inquiry or application, would you know the answer? It’s no secret...