What’s the Secret to Keeping Students Motivated in Online Learning?

Meet Dr. Chris Harrington, the director of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, who shares his reflections on “pandemic teaching,” common misconceptions about online learning, and the findings of his team's landmark research study on keeping students engaged in virtual learning environments.

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This week on the BRIGHT podcast, I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Chris Harrington, who serves as the director of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, where he leads a team of researchers who study the most effective practices for online and blended learning. 

This year, Chris’ research team released a landmark study — “Key Strategies for Engaging Students in Virtual Learning Environments” — based on a survey of over 1,800 virtual educators from 17 state virtual programs that are part of the nationwide Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance

Chris and his team are hopeful that the findings of this study can ignite a larger conversation on how educators can leverage the expertise of these seasoned virtual instructors to help boost the engagement of online learners everywhere. 

In this episode, we chat about:

  • Why student engagement served as such a challenge during “pandemic teaching”
  • Common misconceptions about online learning
  • The findings of his team’s latest study on student engagement in online learning
  • The balance between synchronous and asynchronous instruction in the online learning environment
  • Advice for teachers looking to try new strategies for keeping students motivated in a virtual learning environment

Related resources

See also: Chris on the Mitch Albom Show!

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Nikki Herta

Nikki’s love for writing, editing and pedagogy brought her to Michigan Virtual as their Content Creator/Editor. A Michigan native, she studied writing at Grand Valley State University before continuing on to the University of Minnesota for her master’s degree. While there, she also taught first-year writing to college freshman. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, playing table-top board games, and curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book and her sassy, ancient cat, Princess Eugene.

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