You spent weeks, maybe even months putting your class together. You publish it, you even start to get students. And then … crickets. Why isn’t anyone participating in your class project?
Starting a project—let alone sharing a completed one—can be a hurdle for some students. Some may be stymied by how to get started. For others, the prospect of sharing something as personal as a work of art might feel intimidating.
So how do you pull those students out of their shells and into a safe sharing space?
Never fear! We’ve got a few strategies you can try to encourage students to dive in with project creation and confidently share their good work with you and the community.
Offer a Great Project From the Start
This might seem obvious, but a thoughtfully designed project is better poised for students to complete.
To optimize engagement, make your project easy to start. Offer a quick, lightweight exercise instead of a complex one to encourage your students to dive in.
That said, more complicated projects are welcome. But consider lowering the barrier to entry by providing clear, step-by-step instructions so students know how to get started. You might also consider including resources, such as templates, worksheets, or pre-made assets that students can fill out or practice on, rather than asking them to start their project from scratch.
Further to that, a shareable project is more likely to be, well, shared! Make sure your project results in a concrete deliverable and that your students know what they’re supposed to submit.
Review our article Craft Your Class Project in the Skillshare Help Center to learn more about what makes a top-notch project and see a few examples.
Include a Project Video in Your Class
As part of your class lessons, consider including a short, separate video that explains the project right off the bat. Many teachers place this video right after the class introduction, and we think this is an ideal place for it too!
Use this video to explain what steps students will need to take to complete the project and what you’d like them to upload to the Project Gallery. You can also use this video to give some encouragement by reiterating the value of completing and sharing the project. In Lucy Lambriex’s class, Unlock Your Creativity With Photography and Writing || Turn These 5 Tools Into Habits, she uses the project video to outline the value of sharing by helping you learn how to see and reflect on your own work. But also, in her own words, “It will inspire other students to follow suit and gain the courage to do the same.”
If applicable, you can also use this video to tell students what they need to do first. Whether it’s checking out the project instructions or downloading a provided resource, giving your students their first action step can be a much-needed push to get them started.
We’ve got a few tips on what else to include in your project video in our article, Outline Your Class.
Add a Reminder to Your Conclusion Video
In addition to adding a project video, don’t forget to mention the project at the end of your class too. In your conclusion video, it can be helpful to drop in a reminder to complete the project and upload it to the class.
It can also be an opportunity to remind your students that doing so will allow you to give them feedback on their work too.
Upload Your Version of the Project
Sometimes it can be intimidating to be the first person to share a project in a class, so break the ice for them! Upload your own version of the project to your class’s Project Gallery to showcase what students will be making in the class and give them a clear visual to strive for.
Bonus: share your example project with your followers—either on Skillshare or social channels—to get the word out about your class.
Share Projects with Your Followers—On and Off Skillshare
In addition to sharing your own example project to promote your class, you can share your students’ projects as well. Students who share their work with their own networks—on Instagram, Facebook or elsewhere—will get an extra boost when you reshare their post.
Not only will you give more visibility to their work, but you’ll also reiterate the value of that project and share that excitement with a wider audience.
Through your project video or written instructions, encourage your students to share their projects to the Project Gallery and on their own social channels. You can ask them to tag you or create a unique hashtag to track shared content.
Then, on a regular basis, reshare that content on your own channel, either as a static post or a story. Don’t forget to tag the student as well so they know you’ve shared it!
You can also do a roundup of student projects and share that as a discussion announcement with your Skillshare followers.
Regularly Post Feedback in Your Classes
Students really value feedback. It helps them feel “seen” in a class, and a little extra encouragement—or constructive advice—can help a student reach their learning goals and persist beyond the class at hand.
Demonstrating that you’re engaged with your classes and what your students share signifies a worthwhile learning experience to a prospective student checking out your class. You can also add a note to your project description that you’re available to provide feedback, just to encourage students even further as they work toward the finish line. Need some tips on giving helpful project feedback? We’ve got you covered in our Help Center article Give Feedback on Student Projects.
Encourage Participation with a Giveaway
Many teachers offer giveaways in conjunction with a recently launched class to encourage participation. You can do the same to incentivize students to post a project as well. Giveaways take many forms, but here’s the general idea:
First, set some parameters for participation, such as posting a project and a review in a specific class by a certain date.
Then, decide on a prize. Some teachers offer physical prizes, such as art supplies or books. But consider digital prizes like free Skillshare memberships, Procreate brush sets, or coaching sessions over Zoom to avoid the hassle of mailing prizes to winners.
Finally, send a message to your followers (and class, if applicable) outlining the terms. Track participation in your class according to the parameters you’ve set to determine who will be eligible to win. Then, at the end of the giveaway, award the prize to one (or more) lucky winner!
Congratulations! They’re Engaged!
Choose one method or try them all. Whatever you decide to do, showing your students that you’re engaged will encourage them to reciprocate, and then everyone benefits.