Increasing Engagement of Online Students - Three Tips for Professors

Teaching online and looking for tips to increase student engagement? 

1.) Consider offering multiple channels of communication to your online students. 

The more ways online students have to communicate with you, the better. Faculty can also utilize discussion forums, blogs, and other services that Blackboard offers to engage with students, and allow students to also interact with one another. 

Another communication tool that professors and instructors can utilize for their online students is video conferencing. USI supports Zoom for cloud-based video conferencing to set up office hours for online learners. Zoom also allows online students to interact with one another, creating a sense of community that they may not experience in the online learning environment. Providing virtual office hours creates the same sense of security that on-ground students receive using office hours on campus. 

In addition to communication tools within the learning management system and Zoom, providing your email and office phone number ensures that online students will have multiple channels to get assistance they may need. 

2.) Leverage the instructional design services that Online Learning has to offer.

The Online Learning office has three professional instructional designers that are here to help you succeed as an online instructor. Their mission is to assist faculty in designing and developing quality online learning environments. Additionally, we offer the following resources for faculty to become successful in teaching online and increasing engagement of online students:

Learning to Teach Online (LTO)

Learning to Teach Online (LTO) is a self-paced online course in Blackboard designed to provide resources necessary to successfully teach an online course. The focus is on the delivery of an online course, not the design. The course is open to USI faculty and USI administrative employees. Meeting with an instructional designer to address questions that arise or seek assistance is provided throughout the course. The LTO is comprised of 4 modules that include:

  • Introduction
  • Best Practices
  • Analytics
  • Next Steps

If you would like to enroll in this course, please fill out the USI Self-Paced Online Professional Development Request Form, or contact Online Learning by emailing or call (812) 228-5124 to schedule a consultation. 

Online Course Development Program (OCDP)

The OCDP was established to encourage and accelerate the development of quality online courses and programs that align with the university's strategic priorities. These priorities include, but are not limited to, the development of courses for Core 39, the Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS), and online degree programs. OCDP is available in a self-paced and a faculty cohort model.  For more information, please visit the Online Learning Faculty Resources page.

To schedule an appointment, email

3.) Take your online course to the next level with relevant and engaging content. 

The currency of your instructional materials is important in demonstrating that you care about the personal growth and success of your students. The key to this tip is to include a variety of relevant resources and types of media to deliver your content in an engaging environment that supports active learning. A student interested in your course content will learn more and be more likely to take your courses again in the future.


Online Learning

fas fa-map-marker-alt Forum Wing 029
fas fa-mobile-alt 812-465-1010
fas fa-envelope Email