If you’re an instructor with hundreds, or thousands, of students, chances are you have to answer the same questions from students again, and again. These questions can range from basic to advanced, from course-content related (“I’ve tried some of the recommended meditation postures and have been having a few issues!”) to how the course actually works (“Where are the supplemental materials?!”).
Read on for best practices for engaging your students, and how to make your course the most supportive, engaging, and profitable course it can be! (Because, after all, more engaged students purchase more of your courses!)
Course Content Questions
If your course has a lot of student questions and discussions about your course topic, congratulations, that means you’re doing a lot right! Getting students to engage with your material, and with you, is one of the biggest indicators of student satisfaction (we bet you’re also seeing better reviews as well).
Here are some ways to engage your students more about your course content:
Send out Educational Announcements. Ask a question, or give students a project to do. Give students clear directions on:
- What you want them to do (“Download the problem set from lecture 25”)
- Why it will help them (“This worksheet will help you define your own SEO strategy so you can hit the ground running when you publish your eBook!”)
- How you will participate with them (“Upload your video project to Youtube and post the link in the discussion area. I’ll give you feedback on your public speaking and some ways to improve!”)
Here’s an example of a project-based announcement the Udemy Instructor Team sent out in our How-To Course:
Here's how to send out Educational Announcements.
Using the Q&A. If students post a question or a comment in the Q&A, you should respond! Many instructors give students a sense of their responsiveness in their course summary, promo video, or introduction lecture (“I respond to all questions within 24 hours -- excluding weekends, because I need to play with my new puppy!).
If you set expectations for answering questions, make sure to keep them.
Also think about posting questions or announcements in the Q&A encouraging students to ask questions. This is a good move especially if you haven't been as active in the past -- students won't expect that you are there to talk with them. Let them know that you're engaged, and want to hear how they're doing!
Update based on feedback. Are you seeing the same course-content questions over and over again? Maybe that’s a sign that you didn’t go into enough detail in that specific area, or provide enough examples. Some instructors like to update their course based off of frequent questions -- make sure to send out an Educational Announcement so your students know about the new addition!
Still seeing questions even after adding in new material? Maybe that means there’s enough student interest in another course! Make sure to send out a Promotional Announcement telling your students about the new course when it’s live!
Course Functionality Questions
In a perfect world, you would never receive any questions like these -- unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet! Follow these strategies for responding to course-functionality questions -- but first, let’s look at some examples of what these sorts of questions are:
- "Where are the supplemental materials?"
- "Why isn’t the video loading?"
- "Where can I get feedback?"
Follow these strategies for responding to these sorts of questions:
Create a “How to Use This Course” Lecture. Have a ton of supplemental material that you want students to download and complete? Do you host office hours every week? Do you want students to complete a project and send it to you for feedback? All of these are course-specific directions that you might want to include in their own lecture at the beginning of the course.
Many instructors create a Text Lecture as their second lecture where they let students know how to engage with their course. You could cover topics (and include screenshots!) such as:
- Where to find supplemental material
- How and when to download supplemental material (i.e. if you have a worksheet that goes along with a specific lecture, or a project file that students should download at the beginning of the course).
- How to ask questions
- When you host office hours or other live coaching
You can check out Lecture #2 of the How-To Course to see how the Udemy Instructor Team has done this.
Dealing with Duplicate Questions. Have lots of students asking the same question? First, consider adding to your “How to Use this Course Lecture" a note about using the “Search” feature in the Q&A:
Then, respond to the duplicate question with a link to your first response. Here’s how:
Step 1: Click on the first discussion question. This will open up a new window that will allow you to to link to the individual question.
Step 2: Copy the URL of the new tab.
Step 3: Respond to the duplicate question: "Check out my answer to your question here [paste URL], and in the future, try using the 'Search' option to see what other students have already asked!"
You can also refer students to this article regarding the Q&A, and how they can use it.
Directing students to Udemy Support. If your students are having technical issues with your course, we have an entire team standing by to help! Simply comment on their post directing them to our Support site (“I’m so sorry about this issue! Send an email over to Udemy Support (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they’ll help troubleshoot your issue”) or you can go to our Support site and direct them to a relevant article.
Engaging with your students in your course dashboard can be one of the most rewarding parts of being an instructor on Udemy. We’re so excited to see how you teach!