Student engagement in education is key. It helps to drive students to want to learn, participate in class, work effectively, improve cognitive and social skills and achieve the very best academically.
Teaching and learning can be approached in many different ways, and students engagement levels can vary. But there’s one common factor that can help align this and bring it together – and that’s technology.
Technology in today’s society is at the very heart of learning and studies show that an increased level of student engagement occurs far more often when technology is integrated into the classroom and as part of lessons.
But it’s no good just putting PCs in front of students and leaving them to their own devices (pardon the pun!). Technology has little or no effect on student engagement when it’s not used in the right context or in an effective way that stimulates, inspires and encourages students to want to learn, interact and collaborate.
So what must you do? You should be using technology as a tool that presents students with an opportunity to learn in a more engaging, exciting and relevant way than more traditional methods.
Not sure how to achieve this?
Let’s take a look over some of the ways you can use technology in your class to improve student engagement.
One Student, One Device
All students should be given the opportunity to become independent learners. They should be encouraged to take responsibility of maximizing their own learning potential and stimulate their own engagement through self-directive studying. But in order to allow them to do this, they need access to technology – be it devices, network access etc.
Putting a device in the hands of every student is therefore key to enabling them to become independent learners. However, in an environment where budget cuts are dictating and influencing your school’s ICT provision this can be tricky.
But all is not lost. There are solutions out there such as BYOD that mean all you have to do is provide the appropriate wireless infrastructure to facilitate this. Alternatively, if BYOD’s not your thing, there’s parental contribution schemes that help take the burden and pressure off you to financially support this and allow you to bring the notion of 1:1 learning to the forefront of your strategy.
One student, one device not only enables independent learning but also encourages group participation and engagement as everyone can get involved in creating, evaluating and discussing tasks set in class through using technology.
The great thing about tech is that it can now be used anywhere and at any time. Meaning that your lessons don’t have to be restricted to the four walls of the classroom.
The best way to inspire engagement and collaboration between students is to get them doing activities that take them beyond the realm of the classroom. As long as you have a solid infrastructure/network in place that supports location independent learning, the world can be their oyster!
Setting group or individual tasks that encourage students to explore possibilities outside of the classroom can be a great way to improve student engagement. They’ll all be able to use technology to contribute to the project in hand and aren’t confined to just researching on the internet and typing notes up. There’s a whole host of multimedia tools that can be used to deliver an incredible piece of work.
What’s more, learning doesn’t have to stop at 15.30 when the school bell rings for the end of the day either. Students can continue to gather information, put projects together and engage with peers even at home. The notion of BYOD/1:1 schemes means that – be it independently or as a group – engagement, collaboration and interaction with others through technology is greatly improved, ultimately enhancing the overall learning experience.
Flipped learning model
In the flipped learning model, students are expected to listen to podcasts, do readings, and or watch videos at home in preparation for each class. The materials are usually delivered through an online platform, which the student can access via a home computer or a provided device at school. This allows teachers to use class time for discussion or interactive lessons instead of lectures.
In theory, I think it’s a wonderful idea, especially for high school students. If it works the way it’s intended and the students are really doing this work at home, they get very engaged in school and the teachers can check students’ understanding before they do assessments.
But when students lack family support, technological resources or a home broadband connection, the flipped model loses effectiveness. With any strategy in education, if there is no solid plan of support, the strategy will fade out and not work. If everybody has a plan, I think it’s a very effective model to use. My next article will explain more of how the flipped learning model works and how to put it to use.
Author: Peter Van Kazin Ayittah, Membership Administrator, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana.
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