Skillshare’s engagement promotion continues! From November 2022 through January 2023, we’re encouraging Skillshare teachers to try out our engagement best practices and share their experiences with us in a short survey. Those who participate are eligible to earn a monthly engagement award.
You may want to check out our round-up of successful strategies tested in November before getting into the learnings from our December survey.
Meet Your Students Where They Are
When teaching one to many, different students have different needs and sticking points. We know that when students take the time to reach out, they’re demonstrating that they’re engaged with the class. This is a strong signifier they intend to see it through. How can you offer a little encouragement or the help they need to move forward?
Teacher Sina Port shared how she helped a student by giving them a milestone to complete within the class. Sina said, “My class, 7-Day Personal Branding Challenge: How to Get Paid to Be Who You Are, is designed to be completed in a week. However, I received a message from a student who shared that instead of finishing the class in 7 days, she will probably take a month. So I encouraged her to upload her progress, not only when it’s done but after each day she completes it. A day later she posted the Day 1 project into the project section!”
Other teachers go above and beyond. Teacher Martin Altanie went out of his way to help a student who reached out in December. He shared, “In my class Kinetic Typography – Creative Text Animation in Adobe After Effects, a student ran into a problem and asked a question in the discussion tab. I asked him to send me his working file, then I recorded a mini tutorial to help him. He managed to solve the problem and continued to watch the entire course until the end. He also followed me on all my social media channels, left a really positive review, and told me this was his best Skillshare course so far. It really made my day.”
Engagement is a two-way street, and we think these are great examples of ways that teachers can engage one on one and meet students where they are in their learning journeys.
Switch Up Your Project Feedback
Many teachers reported that they have experimented with how they respond to students about their class projects—to great effect.
Top Teacher Liz Brindley said, “In my Time Management for Creatives class, rather than just commenting on the student’s progress, I also asked for a check-in on how they’re doing as they work toward their goals since making their plan in the class.” Liz also shared that her strategy was effective in getting her students to respond to her. In one interaction with a student, she said the student “thanked me for checking in and gave me an update on her goals. This was really cool to experience because a lot of my 1:1 student interactions actually happen in Instagram DMs, but it was nice to have this happen on Skillshare directly with the relevant class.”
Top Teacher Elina Zhelyazkova tried a similar strategy, drawing on her own experiences as a student. Elina said, “This time, in addition to the feedback and encouragement I usually give to my students, I tried asking them questions about their process or the supplies they have used. I remember I felt more seen and appreciated when a teacher asked me a question a while ago so I thought I could use that too. It’s a nice way to keep the conversation going.”
Top Teacher Megan Friesth shared a simple and effective way to foster meaningful engagement from her students: asking them what they need feedback on. She wrote, “I tell students to let me know if they want feedback on something specific by noting this in their project. Whenever students do this, I make sure to give more detailed feedback and tell them how they can improve their project. These students tend to seem more engaged as they often reply thanking me for the feedback. My goal is to cater my feedback to what the student wants so they have a positive experience and this is the best way I’ve figured out how to do it.” Megan recently put this tip into practice in the class project section of her class, Character Rigging & Animation FUNdamentals in Adobe After Effects. Take a look at Megan’s interaction with student Joanne Smith.
It’s clear that asking specific questions and giving clear feedback encourages students. A little engagement goes a long way to give your students a learning experience that surpasses their expectations.
Make it Personal
Last month, we looked at sharing discussions that have value. Expanding on this, we recommend that you find ways to connect with your audience/build your community based on what they’re learning. This could be something that’s happening now (seasonal content, for example). But several teachers reported high engagement when they shared posts that were more personal in nature.
Top Teacher Maggie Stara tested a new approach to discussions. She said, “This was the second time I’ve sent out a discussion to all followers that was in no way promotional. It wasn’t announcing a new class, a giveaway or anything else. It was simply a reminder for people to remember to reflect on how far they’ve come this year and how they can effectively set goals for next year. And both times I’ve done this kind of discussion, the response has been incredible. I’ve gotten significantly more comments on the post itself! I really believe that these are the kinds of posts that will help me build a more engaged community moving forward.”
Khadija El Sharawy, another Top Teacher, also shared similar results. She said, “I posted a discussion about reflecting on the past year. I added some prompt questions that I answered myself and I encouraged students to do the same. I was surprised that a couple of students really gave honest and heartfelt answers where we discussed our goals for 2023. One student thanked me for prompting this conversation to help them be on track for the coming year. It was a nice, personal conversation with my students—I think it helped that I provided my answers. I plan on doing more of these discussions, for sure!”
These engagement best practices are tried and tested: Fostering these personal connections is a great way to build community and keep students engaged.
There’s one thing we know for sure: people love freebies! And during the holiday season, many Skillshare teachers ran giveaways to entice engagement. Adding incentives through a giveaway can be a great way to boost engagement across the board. An incentive can also give students a reason to do more. For example, you might remind them to return to classes they’ve stalled on or completed without sharing their feedback.
Teachers in our teacher programs, Top Teachers and Teach Corps, earn free SK memberships to give away to their students. But whether you’re in our teacher programs or not, there are many prizes and incentives you can offer, from free 1:1 consultations to art supplies to other resources.
In Vincent Williams’s Skillshare Originals class, Knitting 101: Everything You Need to Knit With Confidence, he leveraged a coupon code for his online store in a discussion post. Vincent said, “I created a discussion post and email to update students about the skills they’re learning in class. In the spirit of the holiday season, I created an exclusive code to download a copy of my recently released Undulate Shawl. This shawl pattern is a perfect ‘follow-up project,’ and the students really loved that I gifted them a free copy of the pattern to continue their crafting journey.”
Top Teacher Mel Rye also tried a similar tactic, giving students two ways to engage. She said, “I ran a giveaway to win a Skillshare subscription. Students could get entries by both creating projects and/or leaving reviews. I definitely find that running giveaways helps to engage students, and find that it can act as a good reminder to them to go back to revisit a class they may have taken some time ago.”
Bottom line: If you know students are out there who haven’t engaged with you yet, remind them that you want to hear from them!
Build Connections Off Skillshare
While Skillshare offers tools for connecting with your audience, such as class discussions, discussion announcements from your teacher profile, or even project feedback, many teachers reported having meaningful discussions outside Skillshare too.
Top Teacher Sean Dykink shared, “I had a long chat on Discord with one of my longtime students who wanted some extra help with their career. I found it quite interesting, and considering the amount of time and effort he had put into my classes and projects, I was more than happy to have a long discussion with him.”
Top Teacher Chris Piascik also reported that his interactions with students on Skillshare expand onto other platforms. He shared, “I provide detailed feedback on each project I receive: I thank the students for sharing their work, talk about what I liked in their project, and give some simple suggestions to make it even better. In December, one of my students was so appreciative that she posted about it on Instagram, writing, ‘I’m just overwhelmed, Chris. This is the nicest, most detailed, thoughtful, encouraging feedback I’ve ever received on Skillshare. You definitely make me practice practice practice.’”
When it comes to engagement, what goes around, comes around. We think these are great examples of ways that teachers have reached out to begin these important and edifying conversations with their students.
Skillshare’s engagement promotion continues until the end of January 2023! If you’d like to jump in before it’s over, read all about it in the Help Center, Engagement Promotion: Engage Your Students to Earn!
Once again, we want to thank the teachers who took part in the engagement promotion in December! Your feedback is helping us learn more about which engagement strategies are most effective. Keep experimenting, and we’ll continue to share our findings in the coming months.