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The digital age has brought with it an entirely new way of learning. With many teachers taking to the online space to share their expertise, the world now has access to new and fulfilling areas of knowledge. 

If you are a teacher branching out online, the one thing you have to consider is keeping students engaged. Online courses aren’t always successful. Course completion rates only reach 10% or less, which can be catastrophic for smaller online course business owners.

So, how can you build and maintain an engaged online course community?

In a recent episode of The Anomalous Educator, Troy Dean, the founder and CEO of WA Elevation, gave some insight into how you can keep community members engaged using multiple touchpoints.

Who Are Your Students?

Build and Maintain an Engaged Community

Troy’s business, WA Elevation, helps agencies and freelancers grow their recurring revenue by offering engaging step-by-step courses and creating a nurturing online student community. 

In the beginning, Troy had a falling trend in student completion rates. He took the steps to keep his students on course by integrating touchpoints.  

The first thing they did was to ensure that they were teaching in multiple modalities. The best way to do that is to envision the transformation that each student needs to go through as a result of taking your course. 

Take a look at the main characteristics that your students have when they first enter into your space. Then establish the characteristics that you want them to have when they complete the course. “That becomes, what we call, the transformation throughout the training.”

Identify the Milestone Students Need To Achieve

Any student will tell you that knowing the level of your progress is key to moving towards success. This is why Troy and his team have implemented key milestones throughout their courses. 

“We identify five or six key milestones that they need to hit to develop those skills,” he explains. “Then, within each milestone, there’s five or six key actions, takeaways or assignments that they need to complete.”

These action steps then become tangible materials, such as worksheets or homework assignments that are downloaded and filled in by the student. This method not only assesses a student’s progress but also enables the student to gain confidence and insight into how they can apply this new knowledge in their particular scenario. 

Create Digital Rewards 

Have you ever trained a dog? If you have, then you know that rewards are the best way to maneuver them in the right direction and reaffirm that they did a good job. While we’re not solely like our beloved pooches, people do love prizes. 

If a student completes a specific module, present them with a digital badge that they can triumphantly show on their digital portals like their website. 

Also, consider adding a certification element.

“Every time they complete a course, they get a certificate that they can print out,” says Troy. “We also have in-app messages that pop-up and ‘congratulations’ emails that go out.”

“We’ve got lots of touchpoints which just make them feel like they’re being encouraged the whole step of the way, and most importantly make them feel like they’ve got support and that we care about their success.”

Having a digital reward system in place can ensure you’re retaining your student’s interest while encouraging them to push further and achieve more.  

Build a Community

If you look at the traditional classroom environment, the most significant winning factor is the socialization that happens amongst students. Creating groups in any capacity can encourage a workshopping of ideas, while also bringing in an element of healthy competition. 

All newbie students are inducted into the warm embrace of the WAE community. The way they do it is to send new students a series of emails encouraging them to find an accountability partner in the Facebook group. 

“That’s what a community is, it’s where you’ve got connections with peers, all working towards a common goal and helping each other out, sharing in each other’s successes.”

They also run live calls in their non-student Facebook groups and encourage everyone, including their students, to interact and ask questions. 

By building stronger foundations within a community setting, students will feel nurtured, encouraged, and most importantly, motivated to continue.

If you want to learn more about how you can build and maintain an engaged online course community, listen to The Anomalous Educator episode with Troy Dean here.

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