15 Strategies to Engage and Motivate Online Learners

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Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Michele Guyer  
Are you struggling to motivate students to complete their online lessons? The reasons students may not be engaging online could surprise you. Join Michele Eaton, author of "The Perfect Blend," to explore 15 research-based strategies to engage online learners while building their self-efficacy and self-regulatory skills.

Audience: Professional developers, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Distance, online & blended learning
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Attendees will learn what the research says about engaging and motivating students in an online environment.

Participants will explore 15 strategies to improve student engagement online based on this research.

Attendees will share their own ideas and strategies for student motivation.


0:00 - 0:05 - Introduction of speaker, explanation of interactive Q&A tool to be used throughout presentation, and preliminary audience discussion of challenges and opportunities for engaging students online
0:05 - 0:10 - Instructional design research
0:10 - 0:20 - 5 strategies for improving engagement online through instructional design
0:20 - 0:25 - Self-efficacy and self-regulatory skills research
0:25 - 0:35 - 5 strategies for improving engagement through the development of self-efficacy and self-regulatory skills
0:35 - 0:40 - Student agency and value research
0:40 - 0:50 - 5 strategies for improving engagement through student autonomy and building connections
0:50 - 0:55 - Debrief of strategies and sharing of personal experiences and tips
0:55 - 1:00 - Closing, Q&A

Supporting research

The Perfect Blend by Michele Eaton
Small Teaching Online by Flower Darby and Jim Lang
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
Interface Design for Learning by Dorian Peters

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Michele Guyer, MSD of Warren Township

Michele Eaton is the director of virtual and blended learning for the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis, and the author of The Perfect Blend: A Practical Guide to Student-Centered Learning Experiences. At MSD of Wayne Township, she provides support for Achieve Virtual Education Academy teachers and students, overseeing online course design throughout the district, working on digital resource interoperability and training, and helping lead the district’s many online and blended learning options. It’s specifically through this course design work that Eaton developed expertise in eLearning design strategies that can be used within a traditional classroom or when teaching remotely. Eaton started her career in Wayne Township as a second grade teacher, and also taught online for Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in its Learning By Design Master’s program and the undergraduate education program. Eaton is a Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) and was recently named a NextGeneration Leader by EdScoop and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), and a Leader to Learn From by Education Week. She currently serves as past-president for ISTE’s Online and Blended Learning Network, and as conference chair for ISTE’s Indiana affiliate organization, Indiana Connected Educators. She earned ISTE’s Making IT Happen award in 2020 and ISTE’s President’s Volunteer Service award several years in a row. In addition to focusing on personalizing instruction through online learning, much of her work centers on transforming adult learning to showcase how technology and online learning can have a positive impact for all.