Five Ways to Engage Your Student Community

As your courses grow in popularity and sophistication, it is important to foster a parallel growth of your student community.  Taking a course in isolation is nowhere near as much fun– or as rewarding– as taking it with a cohort of peers who are learning the same things you are.  The Udemy platform offers a number of tools that can assist instructors in creating community, and getting your students to interact with you and each other.

With this in mind here are my top 5 suggestions to help you create and engaged student community.

#1 Greet every student Individually 

When a student enrolls in one of your classes send them an individual greeting using the Udemy messaging system.  In this opening email, I tell them a little about the course.  I also explain how to ask questions– and provide my personal email.  Finally, I ask them a couple of questions and encourage the student to get back to me.  I do this out of genuine curiosity and, perhaps more importantly, to set a precedent that the students and I will interact during the course.

#2 Encourage Students to Follow You on Twitter and Other Social Networks

I’m not a social networking expert, but I have found that many of the students enrolled in my classes like to communicate over Twitter, Facebook or other social networks.  I’m all for it– It’s another way to engage, and as a nice side effect, it may help you sell more classes.

#3 Use Student Questions as Opportunities to Foster Engagement

We’ve recently started answering student questions on YouTube.  When we answer the question, I’ll record a small demo and upload it.  I’ll then give the student who asked the question the YouTube link.  I’ll make sure to put the Udemy course link in my course description, and viola! My attempt at student engagement has made for some nice marketing for my course.

#4 Make Course Announcements

Course announcements are a great way to stay in touch with your students.  When you make them, each student receives a notification, and the announcement stays visible on the main course screen.  This is a feature we should use more, but it has been a great tool to help our students find out about new courses we offer.

#5 Encourage Students to Engage with Each other

Students can learn as much from each other as they learn from you.  I love it when students answer each others questions, make comments or simply chat.  You can bet the more engaged your students are, the more satisfied they will be with your course!