Mastering virtual communication is really essential to running a successful online course. Did you know that one of the biggest challenges to online courses is student engagement? Without the pressure of face-to-face teacher and classmate competition, many students lack follow-through. Mobile messaging through apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, and SMS messaging can create those important connections and ensure a better learner experience.
Mobile messaging has a lot of benefits as a communication tool between teacher and student, and even among students. First, more and more people are comfortable using messaging platforms. Though some may think that mobile messaging is only for millennials, a study by AARP showed that 88 percent of adults aged 50+ use their mobile for IMS. And with a variety of apps to choose from, you can choose the one that is most popular among your virtual students.
While younger people are abandoning email and voice calls, the trend towards texting has been gaining ground with all demographics. That means that using mobile messaging will allow you to reach the largest number of your students effectively.
Also, it’s convenient. Many online course students are currently employed or have other commitments that keep them busy. By allowing mobile communication, students don’t have to wait until they’re at their desktop to send a question.
They might even forget the question by then anyway! Instead, as they’re messaging colleagues on WhatsApp or responding to a message on Facebook Messenger, they can shoot off a question to you as they come up, increasing engagement and facilitating learning.
It also allows the teacher to answer faster, giving the student a timely response that they might need in order to finish an assignment.
Here are some benefits of mobile messaging for both online teachers and students.
Allows Students Easy Access to Teachers
Students may struggle with a number of challenges in an online course. As mentioned above, engagement is a big issue. By allowing students easy access to the teacher through mobile messaging platforms that they already use, it enhances engagement and stimulates more active participation. It also gives teachers a convenient platform to offer explanations and encouragement.
Great for Communicating Reminders and Changes
If there are any last-minute changes in course material, deadlines or online sessions, mobile messaging is a great way to let people know. Text is particularly effective since it’s immediate and has nearly 100 percent open rates. That means if you send out a text, you’re nearly guaranteed that your students will read the message. It also doesn’t depend on an internet connection for student to be able to receive it.
For that reason, it’s also good to remind students of upcoming exams and assignments. Everyone gets busy and it can be hard to stay on top of schedules and deadlines while juggling other life events. A little reminder can help students be prepared and make it easier for them to succeed in your course.
Group Discussions Help Build Community
Students taking online courses may miss the community that comes with on-site courses. Apps like WhatsApp and Slack can help create that necessary community. Groups have so many benefits:
- They stimulate discussion, giving students a wider range of information on the subject they’re studying
- They help students answer each other’s questions, relieving the pressure on the teacher as the only point of reference
- They allow students to increase their network, a valuable benefit to students
- They allow the teacher to observe what areas are most challenging and which themes are most interesting to students, helping with the planning of future courses
Collect Feedback Through Mobile Polls
Mobile messaging isn’t just a great tool to use during a course. It can also be of use after a course is already finished. Why not send out a quick poll to students after the course is over? It’s easy and convenient to respond to a mobile poll message while on the go, so students will be more likely to respond.
Keep the poll simple, with just a few key questions to increase participation. Finishing the course experience with a feedback poll is very important for many reasons.
It allows you to see what areas you did well in and what areas need improvement. This will help you organize your next course to better meet expectations.
It gives students a place to voice criticisms in a productive way. If you get negative feedback, address it proactively by responding to the student individually, offering to remedy any complaints they had. It could have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication that caused the trouble. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a negative experience and turn it into something positive, improving a student’s overall experience with your course.
Let Them Know About Related Courses
Many students will appreciate learning about similar related courses that would help them hone a skill they’ve been developing. Continuing your relationship with the student by letting them know about upcoming courses through a mobile message can strengthen their relationship to your course and enhance their overall learning satisfaction.
Online educators can use mobile messaging to improve the overall learning experience. By giving students a convenient platform where they can communicate with the teacher and other learners, you enhance community and open the doors for greater exchange.
Anastasia Sviridenko is a content marketing manager at TextMagic. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to create exciting content. When she’s not working, you can find her at home curling up with a book.
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