Active learning: Engaging students to maximize learning in an online course

Arshia A Khan, Ona Egbue, Brooke Palkie, Janna Madden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Student engagement is key to successful teaching and learning, irrespective of the content and format of the content delivery mechanism. However, engaging students presents a particular challenge in online learning environments. Unlike face-to-face courses, online courses present a unique challenge as the only social presence between the faculty and the student is via the Internet. In a recent poll conducted by the authors, 100% of the respondents considered student engagement a challenge regardless of the number of years they have been teaching online. This paper explores various strategies that can be incorporated into the design of online learning courses to foster a high level of student engagement based on multiple pedagogies. In addition, the role of collaborative student engagement tools for the design and delivery of online courses is discussed as well as the role these tools play in creating an atmosphere where students actively participate in learning activities and are contributors to lively discussions. Perspectives on various mechanisms of student engagement that are founded in classic active learning pedagogies and enhanced with new technologies are presented in this paper, including perspectives on the design of courses to facilitate student engagement as well as best practices of design and delivery of online courses. Finally, this paper emphasizes the importance of deliberate course design in the pursuit of actively engaging students in online course settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalElectronic Journal of e-Learning
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Active learning
  • Frustrations
  • Higher education
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Online course design and development
  • Student engagement
  • Student learning


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