The five risk factors needing to be considered when developing online learning programs are; Attention Span, Self-Regulation, Life Balance, Organizational Skills, and Progress.
In a face-to-face classroom attention span can be addressed by throwing dry erase markers at your students when you see them “fading” or texting. However, in an online environment you cannot “see” when they are loosing interest. One idea may be to give them badges with animated high fives when they answer questions correctly and encouragement when they don’t.
In the classroom setting we can demonstrate Self-regulation to them. When challenges with students arise, how we react and diffuse situations provides them with tools for their future use. I use stories, jokes, and laughter to model an appropriate way to handle frustration, impulsivity, and direction following.
Helping our students with life balance issues whether in person or online requires that we have a relationship with our students. These are cultivated through contact/interaction both in person or online. I think that is take longer to develop in the online environment, but it is achievable.
I think one of the most difficult challenges in an online setting is teaching students how to navigate through an online learning program. They all have different levels of technological proficiency and our assumptions about those are often incorrect. For example, I had assumed that the younger students would be more advanced in this ability, only to find out that just because they navigate social media and gaming does not mean that they will be good at navigating educational programs.
Finally, progress in the classroom is achieved very simply with a smile, a clap, verbal praise, etc. Online, they need positive reinforcement and encouragement, possibly through badges and kudos.