With Online Learning, I have prepared recorded videos that are equivalent to lectures. Therefore, I was planning to make the module more interactive. However, it is often the case that only 15% of students watch those lectures, 35% have watched some of the recordings, 20% attend online but have not watched any videos while the rest just never attends (until the last couple of weeks just before the coursework submission and they start to stress) a synchronous session in the morning.

Although I always send emails informing students that it is quite important to watch these videos so that the class discussion will be positive and impactful for their understanding, I always end up with some students who have not done their homework essential for our synchronous discussion.

Now, I know that some of you will say that it is those students responsibility to worry about their learning outcome. As a teaching lecturer, those students' satisfaction is important, and if they are not happy with such an arrangement, I am worried.

The problem is like in all democracy areas, and some students love this approach others do not. I find it difficult (and stressful) to please both extreme parties, especially that many do not wish to show their faces in online learning.

As you know, some like to be passively taught, i.e. using old lecture-style way where the lecturer do the thing online without student interaction unless they have a clarification question. I am currently having this issue where I do not know how to make the majority of students happy and learn actively.

I really value any good advice, suggestions, previous experiences you may share are highly appreciated by both students and teachers.

  • 2
    The easiest way to get a student to do something right now, is to make it valuable right now. "Getting the most out of class" is too woolly. Homework based on those recorded lectures due before the discussion session is much more convincing.
    – ObscureOwl
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


This is the online version of the flipped classroom, of course. But, I suspect that a lot of your students aren't familiar with the concept or how to behave. Like most everything else, you need to teach them what their responsibilities are. Probably they are most used to being "told things" and then working on their own. But that won't work here.

One possibility (the stick) is to hold a quiz at the very start of each synchronous meeting, based on the readings. Another is to start out asking individual students to respond to a question of yours. This could be at any time during the class.

But you should also probably publish a sheet that describes the expectations and what will occur (and what won't) in the online sessions.

To put a bit of carrot along with the stick, you could make the quizzes count "extra" toward their grades, so that answering correctly add something, but incorrectly doesn't penalize them. This works with the more motivated students, of course.

But the normal flipped classroom is normally a problem solving session where the problems are based on the previous readings/videos. These normally form the basis for a part of the grade, perhaps substantial. The face sessions aren't just for questions, but might begin that way.

But you probably need to make "coursework submission" more regular, so that it doesn't just come at the end. Students are busy and will ration their time and effort within the parameters they see. Tighten the parameters to see different behavior. Whether they "like it" or not is less important than if they learn something.


I think Buffy has the right of it, when he says that you need more regular coursework submission. For me, interactive classrooms don't work very well because my students are spread out in many time zones right now due to covid, so a few specific suggestions:

  • Lab attendance grade, or similar. Myself and my TAs hold weekly labs that are spread out at many different times, and attendance to at least one lab per week is graded. The applicability of this will obviously vary with what your class is.
  • Regular small quizzes, like Buffy suggested. This was the first thing that came to my mind. They don't even need to be hard; if everyone who watches the video can easily earn 100%, well, that's actually your desired learning outcome.
  • Weekly due dates. You don't say much about what your class is, but just this would probably solve a lot of your issues.
  • Extra credit for other forms of participation. For example, I use a discussion forum on Canvas where students can ask and answer questions for each other. Find an arrangement like that, and give bonuses for using it.
  • A bonus grade just for watching the video. Most learning management platforms seem to have the ability to track who watched what and for how long.

There are potentially many others, but all come down to that key of strongly incentivizing regular participation through the term. I'm personally against grading based on in-class participation; while I'm not an introvert myself, I'm very close with several people who are, and this sort of thing is torture for them. Unless a part of your classes learning outcomes involves overcoming fear of public speaking.

  • Thank you for this information, but in our rules, we are not supposed to give marks other than the one 100% coursework (and it should be one coursework so that students do not feel overwhelmed--Rules dictated to teachers!). We have no rights to do so. Furthermore, even if we go with your suggestions, many students do not like to be graded on a frequent basis that will also create issues with many students. It seems it is hard to find a perfect solution where everyone is happy.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 19:49
  • @rsc05 The statement that students don't like to be graded on a frequent basis is very strange to me. In all my teaching experience, students vastly prefer having a continuous update of how they're doing in a class. Regardless, I've never heard of a rule like the one you're describing - maybe some more information could be added to your original post (e.g. what country you're in, what sort of school it is).
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:44
  • Those are very strange rules, and you should lobby for changing them. If you don't want to overwhelm students, take the same amount of homework, but chop it up into smaller (weekly) portions.
    – ObscureOwl
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 22:01

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