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Re-Thinking Student Engagement Online

By Dasantila Sherifi, PhD, MBA, RHIA

The COVID-19 pandemic made online teaching and learning the primary mode of education for most students and educators.

However, online education has been around for a long time. The National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) latest data shows that in the fall of 2018, more than 6.9 million students, or 35.3 percent of students in the United States, enrolled in distance education courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions (Wallis, 2020).

As we turn toward a post-pandemic world, chances are that online education will continue to grow.

Online teaching comes with unique challenges related to the engagement of students with the course material, other students, and the instructor.

I have taught exclusively online for more than six years and have tried different teaching methods to improve student engagement. This includes live and recorded lectures, as well as videos that focus on certain concepts.

In Spring 2020, I tried a new tool called PlayPosit. This interactive learning tool is basically a series of short videos with embedded customized questions at key points meant to test whether the student understood what was being addressed in the video. Those concepts were applied in a course project.

My course just ended and the preliminary data shows that students enjoyed PlayPosit activities and were engaged with the content of the course and with each other. I am looking forward to sharing some of my work with you at AOE21 this July.

Wallis L. (2020). Growth in Distance Learning Outpaces Total Enrollment Growth. Accessible here.

Note: Dr. Sherifi will co-present “Improving Engagement Through a PlayPosit-Guided Course Project” at AOE21 on Tuesday, July 27, from 2:00 pm to 2:45 pm.

Dasantila Sherifi, PhD, MBA, RHIA ( is assistant professor and HIM program director of the department of Health Informatics at Rutgers.

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