Uncovering the Reasons Why So Many Students Struggle to Complete Their Online Courses

With the increasing popularity of online learning, more and more students are turning to digital learning platforms to complete their courses. However, many of these students need help to stay motivated and complete their courses, leaving them frustrated and overwhelmed. This article will explore why so many students need help to complete online courses and discuss potential solutions for improving student motivation.

Let's look at some typical reasons and what you can do about it.

  1. Lack of motivation: Online courses can be challenging, and students may need help finding the motivation to continue if they are not fully engaged with the course material.
  2. Difficulty with the material: Online courses can be more complex than traditional ones because students must self-motivate and learn independently. This can be challenging for some students who need help with independent learning.
  3. Technical issues: Technical difficulties, such as slow internet speeds or technical glitches, can frustrate online courses and prevent students from completing them.
  4. Poor course design: Students may become bored or disengaged and may have the motivation to continue.
  5. Time constraints: Many students are busy and need more time to dedicate to their online courses. If the course is too time-consuming, students may need more time or energy to finish it.
  6. Distractions: Students who take online courses from home may be more likely to be distracted by their environment and may need help staying focused on the course material.
  7. Lack of support: Online courses can be isolating, and students may need help to get the support they need to succeed.

To increase the chances of students completing their online courses, it's important to create courses that are engaging, well-designed, and accessible.

Additionally, providing students with support and resources can help them overcome any challenges they may encounter while taking the course.

OK, so let's go deeper into these issues and give you some tips on what you can do about each one.


1. How Can I Improve Student Motivation To Learn?

Motivation is either irrelevant (affected by external factors), such as being given a discount on your next course for completing the course. Or intrinsic, meaning the student is motivated to learn something for themselves. Their motivation comes from within; for example, they feel more empowered when they learn something new and complete a course. Here are seven tips to help increase student motivation.

  • Relevance: Connecting the course material to real-world applications can help make it more relevant to students and increase their motivation to learn.
  • Engagement: Incorporating interactive elements, such as games, videos, and discussions, can make the course more engaging and increase student motivation.
  • Personalization: Allowing students to choose topics or projects that interest them can help increase their motivation to learn.
  • Feedback: Providing regular feedback and support can help students feel more confident in their abilities and increase their motivation to continue learning.
  • Collaboration: Encouraging students to work together on projects and assignments can help increase motivation by making the learning process more social and interactive.
  • Gamification: Incorporating gamification elements, such as points and rewards, can increase motivation by making the course fun and engaging.
  • Autonomy: Giving students control over their learning experience can increase their motivation by making them feel more in control of their progress.

By incorporating these strategies, you can increase student motivation and create an online learning environment that is more engaging, effective, and enjoyable.


2. How To Help Students Who Struggle With Your Course Materials

  • Provide additional resources: Offer additional resources, such as videos, tutorials, or readings, to help students struggling with the material.
  • Personalized support: Offer one-on-one support or extra help sessions to struggling students. This can help them better understand the material and motivate them to continue learning.
  • Encourage interaction: Encourage students to interact with each other, ask questions, and participate in online discussions. This can help students learn from each other and can provide them with additional support and feedback.
  • Make the material accessible: Use clear, concise language and make sure that the course materials are easily accessible to all students, regardless of their learning style.
  • Break down the material: Break down the course material into smaller, more manageable chunks. This can help students who struggle to understand the material and increase their motivation to continue learning.
  • Celebrate progress: Celebrate students' progress and give them positive feedback for their efforts. This can increase their confidence and motivation to continue learning.

By providing additional resources, support, and opportunities for interaction, you can help students struggling with course materials and increase their motivation to continue learning.


3. How To Help Your Students Overcome Technical Issues

Some things are just beyond your control. Their Internet connection fails, they have a problem with their computer and so on. These are just beyond the scope of practical help for a course designer. However, there are several ways to help students overcome technical issues with online learning. See which ones could apply to you and which ones you could implement.

  • Provide technical support: Offer technical support to students experiencing technical issues. This can be done through email, phone, or live chat.
  • Create a FAQ section: Create a FAQ section on your course website to answer common technical questions and provide step-by-step instructions for troubleshooting.
  • Offer platform orientation videos: Offer a video to help students understand how to use the platform and tools they need to complete their coursework and get the most out of your course.
  • Test the course regularly: Test it regularly to ensure it is functioning correctly and identify any potential technical issues before they become a problem for students.
  • Encourage students to report technical issues: Encourage students to report technical issues with your course and the platform they are using as soon as they arise so that you can address them promptly. Make sure you respond quickly to their issues and speak with your platform provider, e.g. Kajabi, if the problem persists.

By providing ongoing support, creating a FAQ section, and offering alternative methods, you can help students overcome technical issues and ensure they can complete their course without interruption.

4. Pay Attention to Your Course Design

We have several posts at The Customer's Shoes that give you tips on how to design your online course so that it is engaging and increase completion rates. Click here to find more.


5. Helping Students with Time Constraints

This is partly down to factors beyond your control. But there are a few things that may help.

  • Allow your student to take the course over a longer time frame.
  • Give them lots of encouragement as they complete their lessons. With some platforms, such as Kajabi, you can automate emails sent when students reach milestones in the course. You can also use badges and other symbols of progress to keep people moving forward so that they don't drop out altogether. 


6. How to Help Students From Being Distracted

We have all been distracted. It's a daily occurrence. But when trying to follow an online course and learn something new, the distractions can be challenging to ignore. Instant notifications from Facebook or Twitter or your emails. So what can we advise students to do to make the most of their time in the course and avoid being distracted? Here are several tips you could offer in your course welcome section. 

  1. Create a dedicated study space: Set up a physical space designated for studying and limit distractions in that area as much as possible.
  2. Use a productivity tool: Use tools such as website blockers or noise-cancelling headphones to minimize distractions and help you focus.
  3. Establish a routine: Set a regular study schedule and stick to it. This will help train your brain to focus when you sit down to study.
  4. Take breaks: Regular breaks can help improve focus and productivity. Consider using the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break.
  5. Turn off notifications: Turn off notifications on your phone, computer, or other devices while studying to eliminate distractions.


 7. Offer Support to Students That Need It

Here are five suggestions to help combat feelings of isolation for students taking an online course:

  1. Connect with classmates: Give students a chance to use course discussion forums or other communication tools to engage with classmates and build relationships.
  2. Participate in virtual study groups: Organize virtual study groups with other students to work together and discuss the course material. Kajabi's Community product is an excellent tool for this.
  3. Reach out to the instructor: Encourage students to reach out to you for support or to ask questions. You may be able to connect them with other students or offer additional resources.
  4. Please encourage students to stay organized: Staying organized with their coursework and setting achievable goals for each study session helps them stay motivated and focused. Also, could you tell them to keep track of their progress to see how far they've come, which can help boost their confidence and reduce feelings of isolation?


We know there's a lot to consider above. Not all will be relevant for your courses and your students. There are plenty of ideas to choose from, and selecting the most applicable for your online courses WILL make a difference to completion rates. I hope you have fun applying them.

Reach out if you need help with course completion rates and would like a review of your courses to identify the key areas to improve. Use the form below for a free call.

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