So you’ve managed to set your online classes up and your students are all excited they can learn from you again. Job done, right? We can continue business as usual now? Well, not quite. If you’ve never delivered online classes before, you’ll soon realise that they come with their own challenges.
One thing you need to be aware of is the high dropout rates of online learning – and this is true across all subjects, including dance. This is mainly due to the fact that online classes put the student in charge of their own learning. So it is up to us, the lesson provider, to find ways for students to stay connected and engaged.
Before we look at ways on how we can deliver an engaging online class, first you will need to figure out what you want the lesson to do. If the goal is to simply help your students keep dancing while they’re stuck at home, that’s quite straightforward. A pre-recorded video that you put out in any online platform should suffice. Ask your students to memorise and repeat a choreography and put up a dance challenge to make it more fun. If you want actual effective learning experience though, you’ll need to do a bit more than that. (Side note: you might want to check out our upcoming Effective Dance Teaching Course which will cover this topic in more details).
Here are some tips on how to keep your students engaged in online classes:
Keep your classes short and focused
Our attention span has generally decreased anyway in this instant-gratification era and it’s even worse for online learning. Keeping your classes short and focused will help overcome this problem. Applying student-centred learning, ie. focusing on student’s accomplishment, is key here. Focus on what you want your students to achieve with this lesson and cut out the unnecessary fluff.
Give your students individual feedback and access to free fabulous resources
If you do your online classes on an interactive platform such as Zoom or Hangouts, then you can give them feedback straight away as you can see them. If you use a pre-recorded video or a one-way platform such as Facebook or YouTube, you can encourage your students to submit their video for you to correct or organise a Q&A chat session where you can answer their questions. Also provide them access to other resources to supplement the lesson. This could be a video demo of the lesson, a short video looking at a specific part of your lesson, a link to a relevant article for further study, or a link to the music playlist you use in the lesson.
Assign an out-of-class project
Maybe students can use this time to do a different type of homework. How about Video Analysis? Pick a dance video to analyse and give your students specific questions to help them learn from the video.
Set up a space for students to be social
I’m sure we all know that a dance school is more than just a place to learn how to dance. And in our case, the word “social” in “social dancing” is equally important as the word “dancing”. It can be difficult for many students to transition from a busy classroom to a house without classmates. A private Facebook page for your students would probably be the easiest to set up so they can keep communicating with their classmates and with you.
Gamify with badges or other rewards
Consider giving out badges for recognising student accomplishments along the way. For example, rewards can be for perfect attendance for 6 weeks in a row, or for being the first who submits their homework, or for asking questions, or for someone who contributes a lot and helps other students, etc. And then give out a prize for the student with most badges – perhaps a private class?
Try something new
Online learning is not the same as face-to-face instructions. But at the same time, it offers a flexibility you won’t find in traditional classroom settings. You can host a watch party on Facebook, for example, and have a chat about what you’re watching. Or you can use multi-platform learning, taking advantage of videos, articles, and group discussions. You can use this opportunity to engage your students in different ways. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish!
Don’t try to do everything!
Delivering online classes is new for many dance instructors. If you try to do everything at once, you run the risk of burning out. Start slow – introduce one new thing and see how the students respond. If it works, great! Keep going. If students aren’t engaged or there are too many technical glitches, find something else. Use this as an opportunity to expand how you and your students learn.
I hope this article will inspire you to embrace Online Learning and get excited about its potentials for your business, even for when the studio doors are open again. You got this!