What is an engagement prompt and how do I use it?

Avoid talking at your students; include engagement prompts to ensure that students are participating in the course and interacting with the content.

Here are a few of our favorite suggestions to applying engagement prompts in your new self-paced or synchronous online course.

Build a learning community.

Researchers found that when an online course included an online community component, students were five times more engaged and 16 times more likely to finish the course. Engagement increases when students feel like they ‘belong’ and are ‘part of something’ with like-minded people.

Build opportunities for social learning into an online course’s design. Jeff Cobb at Tagoras explains why:

“The social context in which we learn is usually what supplies relevance—a critical element for adult learning, or andragogy—and it is by wrestling with ideas and information in a social context that we make sense of them, modify them, and make them our own.”

When an online course requires community participation, students have more opportunities to connect with instructors and fellow students, discuss coursework, help each other through struggles, share ideas, and, most importantly, become more engaged.

Check out The Tourism Academy's community tools from your Member Account screen

And...  be sure to join the Instructor and/or Student groups on Facebook to connect with peers.

Deliver bite-sized, spaced learning.

Make course content easy to digest and retain by delivering it in bite-sized chunks. Jeff Hurt refers to the science that backs up the chunking principle:

“Neuroscience has proven that our attention span is 10 minutes. After that, our attention starts to wane. Chunking content into ten minute segments and then allowing learners 10 minutes to digest is the best way to learn.”

The Tourism Academy recommends an engagement prompt every 4-5 minutes in circumstances when your students are active business professionals. Remember - "continue to the next screen" is a great method to break up your content.

Give students the opportunity to recall and review information, therefore committing it to their long-term memory, by spacing out content. Keep their brains engaged by delivering content in different formats: videos, voice over slides, audio, text, and panel discussions.

increase online student engagement

Get students to take action on what they’ve learned.

Engagement prompts help students cross the knowing-doing gap by having them immediately apply what they’ve learned. Each lesson should consist of a piece of information and a student action. These actions could include:

  • Participating in an online forum.
  • Providing examples or scenarios.
  • Solving a problem.
  • Writing a short essay or opinion piece.
  • Having a conversation (online or offline) with a fellow student.
  • Reviewing what they’ve learned in notes or journaling.
  • Answering instructor questions or take a quiz.
  • Download or view a short video or document and share a comment with the class.

Ask good questions, for example, open-ended questions that require a higher level of reflection and thinking. Ask students to refer back to the content in their answers—another opportunity to revisit the material.

Put the information in context for students. Discuss how they can apply what they’ve learned by sharing case studies. The sooner students act on the new information they’ve digested, the more likely it will stick in their long-term memory.