Summer is wrapping up. You’ve put away the inflatable pool, put the cover on the grill and you’re getting ready to retire your t-shirts and shorts: school is about to begin again.  Back-to-school season is the perfect time to prepare for new online students and take into consideration how to engage active learners.

We’ve put together our top three ways to prepare for online higher-education students, as they return to the digital classroom:

1)  Take advantage of the technology addiction!

That’s right, take advantage of the collective addiction many of us experience to the Internet. Using a platform like Blackboard Collaborate, with the ability to instant message students with help and updates, conduct live video chats and deploy content from anywhere; Blackboard Collaborate can be a key tool for many instructors. Not only does it allow learning on the fly, but within the structured and familiar environment of Blackboard Collaborate active learners can stay up-to-date on classes and use their mobile devices as they’re accustomed to.

2)  Utilize educational digital add-ons and apps.

A summer of surfing the Internet and using their mobile device to plan daily activities and find information has put students in a connected mindset. When they return to the virtual classroom, students will be looking for additional features to keep them engaged and on the right path. Here at Blackboard, we have partnerships with the four highest-used publishers: Cengage Learning, Wiley , Pearson and McGraw-Hill. Only Blackboard allows you to add in quizzes, assignments, grades and content from these four publishers directly in to your course.

Educator Siobhan Stynes has found that adding dynamic content into her Blackboard course has had profound effects on engaging students. “We went from engaging students with digital content outside of the classroom, to engaging them with digital content inside the classroom as well! Students were pulling up difficult assignment questions in class, enabling us to go over the tough stuff together. This really took the excitement of a science class (how exciting can it be?) to a whole new level.”

3)  Be what they’re looking for.

Students are looking for something special, especially in higher education. After years of traditional classroom instruction that required extended periods of quiet sitting and staring at lecturers, students want to be engaged with the tools they use on a daily basis. This may be their mobile device, it may be their laptops and it may be both. When an instructor can be adaptable and teach online students in the environment they’re comfortable in, active learners perk up and pay attention.

Start the new school year out right with the right tools. Find what your students are looking for and provide the environment they need to stay connected and active.

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