We’ve listed down tips to boost student participation in an online class. Some of this will work, some you will have to improve to adapt to your class’ needs.

Five Doable Tips To Boost Student Participation In An Online Class

How can you improve student participation during online classes? Does the lack of physical presence have an effect on the delivery of the lessons? Which is better: cameras always on or not?

We’ve listed down tips to boost student participation in an online class. Some of this will work, some you will have to improve to adapt to your class’ needs.

We’ve listed down tips to boost student participation in an online class. Some of this will work, some you will have to improve to adapt to your class’ needs.
We’ve listed down tips to boost student participation in an online class. Some of this will work, some you will have to improve to adapt to your class’ needs.

Distance education isn’t a recent invention. It has been around far longer than most people believe. Technology and the current situation we are facing have just made it more of a necessity to hold online classes. This ensures children all over the world aren’t denied the opportunity of getting educated.

But it is still a new concept for those who haven’t considered we have reached a point in time where online classes have become the new normal. Most teachers aren’t trained to do this and children aren’t accustomed to home being school at the same time.

So, there is a need to adjust to the changes. One of the most obvious things that is going to change is how students and teachers interact in the “classroom”. The lack of physical presence is definitely going to affect student participation.

It’s a good thing there are tips and techniques to get around this based on the experiences of more knowledgeable online teachers.

So, without further ado, let’s get on to the list and you can start applying it to your own classroom.

Table of Contents

Start With Laying Out The Ground Rules And Guidelines Clearly

Making the guidelines clear ensures everyone’s on the same page at the start of the lesson. To ensure that, you need to tell them what’s expected of them during the online class and that good behavior will be rewarded accordingly. Define what participation is in a clear manner and you’ll see that results will follow.

Treat your students as a partner in the learning process. After all, this is a two-way experience that will benefit everyone if you can maintain a clear and lively discussion throughout the session.

Trust your students to want to participate as well. All they really need is some confirmation that they are allowed to do certain things within the context of the lesson’s session.

Some basic ground rules you should apply are these:

All students are required to attend online classes. Attendance will be rewarded with a grade. Absences will be reported and will reflect on the child’s final report card. Parents must be notified at all times regarding their child’s attendance.

Lay The Ground Rules Clearly
Lay The Ground Rules Clearly
  1. Students should come to class prepared, dressed up, and ready for an engaging, educational session. Needless to say, paying attention to what’s on the board goes without saying. That’s the same for all presentations whether done through video or images.
  2. Use videos and slideshows for education and entertainment purposes. You can easily make these videos and slideshows by using an app like the zShot app.
  3. Cameras are required to be on at all times. Student participation depends a lot on seeing each other throughout the entire session.
  4. Assignments have to be turned in on time. Tests have to be taken and participating in group activities is implied as a requirement.
  5. Lastly, honesty at all times is expected from all students.

These are just the basic ground rules that you can set to get everything started. You can add more as needed.

Smaller Groups Lead To More Participation

It’s easy to get lost in a crowded place. The same is true in a classroom with too many participants. To ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate, break the class down into smaller groups. With teams comprised of two to four children, lessons can be better learned and comprehended.

Small Groups Work Better Than Teams Larger  Than Necessary
Small Groups Work Better Than Teams Larger Than Necessary

To make this work, allow the small team to work on projects or enter into discussions amongst themselves that they can then present to the class as a unit. This is where you will have to make a conscious effort to back off and let them lead themselves to success.

By doing this, you create a more intimate atmosphere for your students where each one helps the other. The more outspoken ones can take a more proactive role in helping introverted individuals participate and shine.

Make Lessons That Are Easily Digestible

Lessons don’t necessarily have to be hard all the time. Sure, a pop quiz or two every now and then is a good way to assess where your students’ performance is; but these tests don’t have to be difficult all the time. After all, don’t we consult the net every now and then to find out what certain things are?

This is where effective lesson plans come into play. You can start off with a discussion about the topic on hand before handing off small assignments to your teams for them to apply what they’ve learned and create presentations from it. This can be in the form of serious discussions amongst classmates or turned into a game or contest with a reward at the end for the best performers.

Reward Those Who Participate Regularly

If you’ve watched any of the Harry Potter movies, you’ll notice that Hermione is always raising her hand to participate in class. She also always gets shut down as an annoying member in class for always wanting to speak up. This type of portrayal is very negative for students who like to participate.

Reward Those Who Participate, Let Them Serve As Models For The Rest To Follow.
Reward Those Who Participate, Let Them Serve As Models For The Rest To Follow.

Encourage students who like to participate to do more. Their actions in the classroom will serve as a model for other students who are hesitant to do the same thing. It works best if you pay special attention to these students and show the others that participation leads to rewards.

If the students speaking up gave a wrong answer, discuss it at length so that it becomes a learning experience for everyone. Acknowledge the effort they put in without pointing out that they were wrong so as not to humiliate the student. How you react is going to affect the entire class.

This will lead to more student participation in the future.

Provide Coaching Sessions

Perhaps the most important thing out of this list is providing coaching to your students. Coaching helps you talk to your students and let them know where their strengths and areas of improvement lie. Talking helps your students understand themselves better.

Before entering into a coaching session, lay out what the discussion will be about. Let the student talk most of the time so that they can come up with a solution to their problems if any are present. This discussion shouldn’t just be about problems though. This can also be an opportunity to praise them for good performance ensuring that they repeat it in future sessions.

Student Participation Is The Key To Success
Student Participation Is The Key To Success

That’s it. These are basically five doable things you can do to boost student participation in an online class.


Student participation is always going to be a challenge for any teacher. Online, where children aren’t exactly in a classroom, this can be a more difficult challenge. The lack of physical interaction is definitely going to have an effect on the delivery of your lessons.

By employing the tips we’ve included in our list for student participation, you can take your teaching to the next level. It starts with laying down the ground rules (very important) and ends with coaching sessions with each student. Everything else in between is entirely up to you.

Just observe how your students react to the techniques you use and adapt to every situation that arises by changing it up to something that works better in improving student participation.

Related Questions

Should I Encourage A Debate Amongst My Students?

Yes. This can actually increase the level of student participation in your online class as everyone tries to pitch their two cents into the discussion. You have to be careful though as this can easily get out of hand. Make sure to act as an effective arbitrator allowing everyone enough time to speak or respond.

I Teach A Class Filled With Introverts. How Do I Go About This?

Dealing with introverts takes special skill and care. If you use the majority of the student participation tips we’ve included, the introverts in your classroom will eventually take part in the conversation. Patience is needed to get introverts to come out of their shell.

Provide just enough attention to ensure that they know they’re in a safe environment where they can talk without feeling pressured to take part in the discussion. Lastly, take the time to talk to each one in private to explain to them the benefits of participating in class.

Is Chatting Considered A Form Of Participation In Class?

Yes. In fact, chatting can be a great way to communicate effectively with introverts in the classroom. But use this technique as a way to improve their student participation in the classroom. Chatting can eventually lead to one on one conversations on cam before they get comfortable enough to speak with the rest of the class listening in.

Do you want more teaching tips and student participation techniques for classroom and home learning purposes?

All Digital School has a rich collection of student participation tips and advice for you. We also have experts, teachers, and parents exchanging tips and information on our community boards. Do you want in?

You can also register via your Facebook or Google account. Click any of the buttons below.

Do you have more student participation tips and techniques that you’d like to share? We want to learn from you as well.

Let us know in the comments below!