Capturing a person’s attention is hard to do in this day and age. Between TV, the Internet, advertisements, politics, world hunger, animal rights, general plight and even what to have for dinner, our attention is in a constant state of flux.

So, how do you go about capturing the attention of students? With everything going on, you may feel that education takes a back burner, but studies show that people are attending online school in unprecedented numbers and that this trend will only continue.

Capturing and holding students’ attention is more vital now than ever. Here are a few tips for how to gain plenty of engaged students

  1. Online Presence: Potential online students probably already spend a lot of time online. Seems simple. To find them, try using a mix of conventional and unconventional methods. Facebook is the undisputed king of the Internet, so you can bet that each student-to-be is on the site nearly every waking moment. But, Facebook is not a magic genie for spreading your information. If you want to use Facebook to capture students’ attention, you’ll have to put time in on your end.

Avoid spamming anyone’s Facebook walls with links. Instead, check out pages and groups that are related to your subject and see which people are engaged. If you’re teaching an online French course, aim for French language and culture pages. Tastefully spread the word about your course. People are at differing levels of course, but there are likely beginners who are interested in learning a language.

You can also use less conventional online tools like email marketing to spread the word. Email is still an influential tool when used correctly. Do not send more than one or two emails a week to recipients, and send them during times that are convenient and when people are likely to check (work hours during weekdays, or daytime hours over weekends).

  1. Twitter

Twitter is a fantastic tool for holding someone’s attention. Once you’ve gathered students for your Intro to French course, encourage them to interact with French-speaking Twitter accounts. Classroom learning can be dry, but hopping on Twitter and reading 140 characters written by French-speaking persons is both simple and exciting. This is an excellent way to learn basic words, slang and pick up on aspects of French culture.

Encourage your students to tweet in French to each other, or to those they follow. They can also use Twitter to find other great French websites, as tweeted by whomever they choose to follow.

  1. Keep Looking Forward: Losing interest in a class that feels like it’s going nowhere is easy to do. Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) to show students French sites and videos they can interact with once their skills are up to par. Have Skype conversation days set aside to help students develop their writing and reading skills. Show students where their skills could one day take them.

Though everyone seems to be competing for our attention, people are still making time for online learning. Using these tools and tricks, you can build a strong, committed and attentive group of students.

img: Noncommercial Some rights reserved by robotson via flickr