It’s no secret that the last hurdle in teaching has been achieving student engagement using technology. While the use of technology in the classroom has been on the rise for some time now, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 crisis occurred that schools had no choice but to figure out the best practices for student engagement using technology.
As life gets back to the new normal, we shouldn’t abandon the concepts and tools discovered during this tumultuous time in education. Instead, we should find ways to still incorporate ways to increase student engagement using technology as we march forward in the tech-heavy world in which we are living.
Together, let’s look at a variety of ways in which you can engage students using technology to help improve their understanding and retention of course material, how these strategies helped increase student grades in the past, and a few tips on how you can help track your students’ progress so you can accurately assess the effectiveness of these strategies of increasing student engagement using technology.
Gamify Learning Processes
The use of games in education, including gamification, has been on the rise for some time now. However, many educators are still unsure about how to properly implement them with their students. While there is no concrete definition for gamification, it’s safe to say that it’s the use of game thinking and mechanics in a non-game context.
The benefits of incorporating gamification into your lessons, activities, projects, or even assessments to increase student engagement using technology vary depending on the individual learning process. For example, using game mechanics while working on homework can increase motivation and engagement because students are more likely to see this as a form of entertainment rather than an academic activity.
On the other hand, incorporating game mechanics into more traditional forms of assessment can help students retain information for longer time periods since they are being tested on their ability to solve problems and complete tasks in a fun environment more so than just identifying right or wrong answers.
Utilize a Flipped Classroom Model
As you know by now, the flipped classroom model is one of my favorite changes to classroom instruction. The traditional style of teaching saw instructors as the main focal point in lecture halls as they attempted to convey information from their course content to their students with little success. In fact, statistics show that only 20% of students will recall information from a lecture given by their instructor.
On contrary, the flipped classroom model includes lectures done outside the classroom and homework being completed inside the actual class time with help from your peers and a faculty member. Not only is this style more engaging for individual learners, but it’s also more fun.
Students are more willing to learn information in a class when they can work with their peers and engage in different activities that include things like group projects, discussions, presentations, etc. In my own experience, this is key to increasing student engagement using technology.
Utilize Digital Tools
In today’s day and age, there are countless digital tools available for educators to use in the classroom. The problem with course content and classroom instruction are that the knowledge needed to be taught hasn’t changed; we’re just now learning how to apply technology more effectively into our methods of teaching.
For example, Google Classroom has quickly grown as a tool for increasing student engagement using technology. In fact, it’s so effective at doing this that more than 50% of teachers are now using Google Apps for Education to help organize their courses. With Classroom, students can work on assignments electronically and submit them for feedback immediately or wait until the next class period/session.
This type of flexibility gives students the ability to ask questions whenever they arise, allows them to better retain knowledge thanks to the use of technology, and allows you to structure your courses however you see fit by utilizing different activities/projects that can be easily published using Google Slides.
Another useful tool for students is an app like Quizlet that gives them access to digital flashcards they can use to practice memorizing key terms or phrases before tests. Other great digital tools teachers can use for increasing student engagement using technology include Kahoot games, Socrative activities, Google Read and Watch resources, etc.
Collaboration in the classroom increases engagement using technology because students are encouraged to work together in order to complete projects or solve problems for their classes. This gives students an opportunity to increase their social skills and use their problem-solving skills to work through challenges with their peers.
One great way of applying collaboration and teamwork into your class is by assigning group projects where students will need to discuss ideas, share resources, and complete tasks effectively in order to receive a passing grade. This gives students the opportunity to explore new concepts together as well as teach one another about their own specialties.
One of my favorite “tricks” I trained teachers to use if they were teaching students both inside and outside of the classroom at the same time was to create breakout rooms utilizing Zoom, etc., and have students who were in the classroom and the ones who are at home working together in groups.
It allowed the students who were home to feel that classroom community and allowed students in the classroom who may have needed to keep their distance from other students the opportunity to work with others. It was a win-win all around and I didn’t hear any bad feedback in return.
Another great way of using this concept to help student engagement using technology is by assigning your students with certain tasks that will allow them to interact with one another online. For example, you could have your students work in groups to create a presentation about “Global Warming” and then they’re given the opportunity to upload their presentation onto YouTube so that other classes can watch it. This way, not only are they learning through collaboration with others but they also have the opportunity to learn from one another as well.
Utilize Differentiation Strategies
Although differentiation is mentioned fairly often, many educators are unclear on what it means or how they can apply it to their courses and how you can apply it to student engagement using technology. Simply put, differentiation is giving students the support they need based on their individual learning needs so that no one student feels left behind or unable to succeed in completing coursework or assignments.
One of the best ways to utilize differentiation is by creating QR codes that take students to the different pages they need to go to depending on how well they’re doing throughout an assignment. For example, you can create a QR code for each student and attach it to their folder so that every time they turn in an assignment, you can scan the QR code and see what pages they went to depending on how many points they earned from their previous session.
In this way, students who finished all of the tasks with a perfect score will continue working through the remaining pages while those who didn’t do as well or need extra help can go back to the appropriate pages that will help them improve their scores.
Allow Your Students to Collaborate With Others in Different Countries
One of the best ways teachers can encourage students to use technology in order to advance learning is by allowing them to work with other students around the world so they can create a better sense of community and diversity in their courses.
Some of the best units I ever had utilized a site called ePals and had my students collaborate with others students in terms of being Pen Pals, but connecting it to the curriculum. I had my US-based students work with a class in Germany to compare their family experiences during World War II. I also had a unit that interacted with a class in Uganda to discuss the effects of Imperialism in Africa.
I can assure you…my students got way more out of these activities than they ever would have just learning them traditionally.
Let Your Students Explore Themselves Through Publishing
One of the best ways you can create amazing learner experiences is by having your students publish their learning through different outlets.
For example, you could allow them to take their research and turn it into a podcast or video presentation that they can upload onto Vimeo or YoutTube. This will give students the chance to not only use their creativity when it comes to their work but will also allow them to reach an audience that they may never have known about otherwise.
Another way you can implement this is by having your students keep a journal in Google Drive where they can write down their thoughts and turn them into blog posts. This digital footprint you’re providing them with will allow them to explore who they are and what they can do as well as provide them with a portfolio that they can share with future employers.
Encourage Them to be Creative
In today’s digital age, it is becoming more and more important for students to create projects that not only reflect who they are as a student but can also promote creativity within their learning.
You may be asking yourself…how the heck do I get my students to be creative?
Well, you can start by having them create comics, music videos, and digital stories that not only promote their learning but will portray the different skills they’ve learned within the unit.
Empower them to be creative and allow them to show others who they are through your curriculum. You may just find that you get some pretty cool creations back from your students (and it’s a great way to increase student engagement using technology!).
Let Them Present Their Learning in Different Ways
Another great way to let your students express themselves and also increase student engagement using technology is by having them create presentations that are both digital AND traditional.
For example, you can assign your students to create a PowerPoint that they can then turn into a video presentation or vice versa. You can also allow them to create some type of poster and turn it into a digital presentation.
Another great example of this would be having your students create a PSA where they have to take what they have learned in the unit and use it in order to inform other students about their topic area. The more creative you allow them to be, the better their work will become.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to having your students present their learning in different ways and getting pure student engagement using technology!
Let Them Make Choices on What They Want to Learn About/How They Would Like to Present Their Work
This ties directly into the concept behind #9. One of the best parts about teaching is that you get to make the decisions for your students. Well, what about letting them make some of those decisions themselves while increasing student engagement using technology?
For example, you could have your students pick a topic area they would like to research and give them different ways in which they can present their work…OR let them create their own project that is based on what they are interested in.
You could also let your students choose how they want to present their work…you may be thinking…isn’t it my job as the teacher to make this decision for them?
Letting your students have control over what they learn about will empower them, allow them to take pride in their work, and will ultimately lead to them learning more skills.
Remember…YOU are the teacher and it is YOUR job to provide your students with the best possible learning environment you can! Allow them to be creative, take risks, learn from their failures, and create their own opportunities for success.
Student Engagement Using Technology and the 4 Keys
Making sure you’re encouraging student engagement using technology isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.
If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.