Student Engagement in a Remote Setting

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As you begin to prepare for students to transition to learning in a remote setting, ensuring that they are fully engaged is likely top of mind. As a leader, there are likely many questions that come to mind as you think about student engagement.  How can you ensure that students are showing up for learning experiences? How do you know they are working on assignments? How are teachers supporting and encouraging student engagement? How do I support teachers in planning for engaging and meaningful learning experiences? What do I look for and listen for to ensure that learning is happening when observing in a remote setting? 

Student engagement does not happen by accident. It is the result of careful planning and implementation. This guide will help to answer some of the questions that you may be pondering and direct you to other resources that will support this work.


Engaging and Instructing Students Remotely

There are three types of student engagement that leaders should be aware of. There should be thoughtful planning to consider all three types of learning in a remote environment.

Type of Engagement


Common Measurements in a

 Remote Setting


The amount of time students engage with course materials – frequency and time

  • Amount of time a student spends on a remote learning lesson or module
  • Participation in “live” session opportunities
  • The number of log-ins to the course site
  • Consistency of interactions with course materials
  • Assignment completion rate
  • Level of participation in online discussion forums and/or participation in other collaborative tools


The way that learners think about and make connections to what they are learning

  • Performance on assignments and projects
  • Interactions with discussion threads
  • Quality of interactions within a synchronous session
  • Contributions in online discussion forums


The level of connectedness and care that students feel in their learning community

  • Student satisfaction with the remote learning experience
  • How students communicate and interact with the teacher and with peers
  • The quality and quantity of parental involvement
  • Emotional response/reaction to the remote learning environment and whether students feel valued

Adapted from:

Maintaining student engagement in remote learning requires the same systems, structures, and practices that keep students engaged in a traditional setting. Setting clear expectations, planning engaging lessons, holding students accountable for their learning, monitoring progress, and following up with students should exist and be evident in a remote setting just as in a traditional setting.

Here are some considerations and tools to support teachers and students in a remote learning setting to maximize student engagement.


Use various instructional delivery methods and models

  • Teachers can use Flipped Classroom or Blended Learning Classroom, where students can learn asynchronously to develop background knowledge that can be discussed together as a whole group or small group discussions either using synchronous time or phone calls. Students can use software such as FlipGrid or Seesaw to record and share videos with teachers and classmates.
  • Teachers can record tutorials or lessons that can be watched by students multiple times and the students can control the pace of learning by pausing or rewinding the video as needed. Recordings can be made using a smartphone or a webcam. There are also screen and video recording tools such as Loom as well as video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet.

 Ensure students have opportunities to collaborate

  • Assignments can be intentionally designed to require collaboration by using online shareable documents such as Google Docs. Teachers can also the LMS or video conferencing tool to enable breakout rooms for small group collaboration and discussion.

Use multiple methods for assessment and provide individual feedback

  • Teachers can check-in with students to see how they are doing, teachers can send out surveys or use polling features within the LMS to assess for emotional engagement.
  • Online assessment tools like Kahoot or Quizlet can be used to assess all students at once to check for understanding.
  • Online tools like FlipGrid or Seesaw will allow student to send in recordings of their learning and teachers can assess understanding and provide feedback

What should a leader expect to see/hear when engagement is occurring in a remote setting?

  • Teachers asking high-quality questions and posing problems that prompts students to share their ideas and thinking about the lesson
  • Teachers encourage reasoning and problem solving and pose challenging tasks that offer opportunities to persevere through problem solving or challenging tasks
  • Teachers require students to explain their thinking
  • If working in a group setting, students talk about their thinking with one another in order to clarify, build upon, or improve their own understanding
  • Intentional opportunities for collaboration should be evident