9 Proven Ways to Increase Student Engagement and Completion Rate in your Online Course6 minute read
Studies show that the average completion rate in online learning is as low as 13%. This means that if 100 students enroll in your online course, only 13 of them are most likely to reach the end.
So what? As long as they pay, I have nothing to worry about!
While getting paid is important, you should also focus on creating real results for your students.
In the long run, an engaging online course with a high completion rate will help you gain more positive reviews, increase your authority and popularity, reduce refund requests and complaints, and so on.
If this sounds like something you are looking for, you are in the right place.
In this article, you are going to learn about all the different things you can do to increase students’ engagement and completion rate to make your online course a success.
1. Create “Buzz” Before the Launch
Raising awareness for your online course before the actual launch date has many benefits, including getting your potential customers excited about your content.
By providing a sneak peek into your program, you’ll capture the attention of future students, and - if you do this well enough - they will be looking forward to the launch date.
Learn how you can do this in more details here: How to Pre-Sell Your Online Course and Profit Before the Launch
Major companies like Apple have used this strategy to raise enthusiasm around a product by marketing it months before the launch. You can do the same on a smaller scale.
Promoting your course should aim to create a sense of urgency and desire towards your program: your students will be definitively more engaged with your content if they’ve been waiting in excitement for some time before your start date.
2. Adjust Lesson Formats
Everyone learns differently. Some people might prefer videos, other text or images, and so on.
Your course should keep students engaged by providing a mix of formats and delivery methods that will appeal to all audiences.
As reported by The Social Science Research Network, around 65% of people are visual learners, meaning that we respond better to visual stimuli such as images, graphs, charts, etc.
According to a Forrester Research, people are 75% more likely to watch a video than reading print. Videos are an extremely effective way to communicate ideas and demonstrate your teachings while keeping your audience engaged.
That said, you should not eliminate text completely from your lessons, but since generally users will only read about 20% of the text on the average web page, just keep it short and to the point, and avoid long blocks of texts without any interruptions.
A viable option could be to add a transcript under the videos you upload, however, the main focus should be on the video, since it provides both visual and auditory powerful content.
If you are looking for a tool to help you with your transcription, check out Otter.ai.
On Heights Platform, you can automatically add timestamps links in your text for your students to jump to a particular section in your videos. Learn more about this feature here: All About Using Video in Your Lessons
3. Give Assignments for Active Learning
A fantastic way to ensure a high level of engagement and participation from your students is to give them assignments or projects to complete.
Depending on the topic of your course, the nature of assignments may vary, and it will help them put their knowledge into practice. This approach can be much more helpful to both student and mentor than a traditional quiz or test.
A project promotes active learning and allows students to reach their goals and showcase concrete results about their achievements.
For instance, if your course is about “photography” your assignment could be for your students to submit pictures using a specific technique.
According to Cornell University; “Research indicates that active learning methods are especially effective for student learning when compared to classes that primarily consist of lecturing.”
Heights Platform is the only online course software that offers a feature for “Project” submissions. Learn more about how to create your own project on Heights here.
4. Review your Content Structure
The way you structure your content could affect the completion rate and engagement level of your students.
It is important to divide your course into smaller lessons and drip-feed content for your students.
Generally speaking, shorter videos and lessons work better than longer ones. The ideal length for an average lesson is around 30 minutes or less, depending on the subject you are teaching. Even shorter 5-10 minute videos about a specific topic can be highly engaging, avoiding the risk of boring your students.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout mentioned that, “A majority of students believed the videos helped them learn course content and that the videos were best kept to less than 15 minutes in length.”
Try to create simple, easy-to-complete steps for your students to follow. Your goal is to create consistent positive feedback loops for your learners, to convey a sense of satisfaction by instantly rewarding every small achievement. We will talk more about gamification later in this article.
If a lesson is very long and complex, its engagement rate can drop. Not to mention that your students will feel unmotivated and not willing to move forward.
Simply breaking down your lessons into shorter ones will help your students go through your course with ease.
5. Get to Know Your Students
Building a relationship with your students can be a challenge in online education. However, there are certain things you can do to create a community around your online course.
Having a space where your students can be together - even if online - and share ideas will increase their engagement and retention of the program.
You could for instance make a Facebook Group, with the aim of socializing and helping each other. You could set up a discussion board on your course’s platform, to share ideas and feedback. Live streams or online meetings are also a good idea to directly interact with your students and enrich their learning process.
If your customers feel part of a community, they’ll engage more with your content and most likely they’ll stick around until the end of your course.
As a creator, you should try to engage with your students one-on-one to find out what unanswered questions and doubts they may have. If you don’t engage by reaching out directly to them you will not be able to know for sure why they are dropping off your course, and you’ll lose any chance of fixing and improving your lessons.
6. Apply Gamification Methods
One way to increase participation and engagement among your students is to add gamification to your lessons.
A study revealed that participants who learned through gamification methods scored 14% higher in skill-based assessments.
Gamifying your online course doesn’t have to be complicated. You could add a point system or give out badges and awards to your students once they complete a lesson or achieve a certain milestone.
Points and rewards will create a feeling of achievement among students and they’ll be more inclined to complete your course.
Learn more about the power of gamification here: Applying Gamification and Psychology Principles to Improve How We Learn
On Heights Platform you can create customizable points and automatically give out badges and awards to students once they complete a lesson or reach a certain milestone.
7. Build a Discussion Space
Having a space where students can ask questions and get feedback from their mentor or peers, will improve their learning potential and increase their engagement.
Your discussion space could be set anywhere, for instance on social media. However, if you can build it right inside your course’s page or platform, it will be an added bonus for you and your students.
Having a discussion board right beside your content, will allow students to comment, ask questions, share ideas when they are still “fresh” from learning, and it will provide a more organized and controlled way to keep track of everyone’s progression.
On Heights Platform, you can open your own discussion forum with ease. Learn about how to do it here.
8. Analyze Your Lesson Content Analytics
Having access to specific analytics about your student’s performance and progression through the course is a huge plus.
What is the overall completion rate of your course?
Which lessons are most popular? And which are the hardest ones?
What questions & answers do you get from your students?
How much time do your students spend online?
All of these questions - and more - can be answered by your course analytics.
Depending on which platform or hosting service you are using for your online course, you may have access to students’ analytics or not. Having access to this feature is an essential part of creating a wholesome course, and sometimes is overlooked by creators.
This sort of data can help you measure how your students are doing and if they are engaged enough with your content. By looking at the analytics, you can determine if there is any part of your course that needs to be improved, in order to increase the completion rate.
Heights Platform offers detailed analytics that enables you to get an overview of the pulse of your program and students' progress. The Creator Dashboard is only available to you, the course creator, and it can give you an idea about which areas in your program that you will need to adjust.
9. Set a Premium Price for your Course
This is a step that many creators forget to consider when it comes to secure students’ engagement.
How exactly does price affect your completion rate?
A high price incentivizes students to put more effort into learning and completing a course. They want to get their money’s worth.
If your course is cheap, your students won’t put as much commitment into it as they would for an expensive online course.
While if your customers have to pay $1000 to enroll, they will put in a higher commitment to make sure they get enough out of their purchase!
That said, your price should certainly still be somehow reasonable and in line with your content and value.
Create Your Online Course Today