This semester, CNDLS hosted a Digital Learning Webinar on digital tools and student engagement in the classroom. We’ve captured main ideas and tips from the presentation, including how to incorporate various digital tools into your practice to improve learning interactions.
What is engagement? It can be helpful to slow down and consider how engagement works, and what it means. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) describes engagement as a multi-dimensional construct influenced by both individual and institutional characteristics (Kuh, 2009). In other words, engagement is a function of both a student’s intrinsic desire and the extrinsic opportunities provided by the institution to engage with the course content (Axelson & Flick, 2011; Harper & Quaye, 2009; Trowler, 2010).
When we think about how we can assist with students’ engagements in these ways, there are three types of interactions to consider: that are very useful:
- Learner to Content: Direct student interaction with course content through meaningful, valuable and authentic tasks.
- Learner to Learner: Facilitate group work, which invites communication, collaboration, and negotiation; think-pair-share activities, discussions, and projects.
- Learner to Instructor: Conduct in-person/Zoom class discussions and office hours; ask questions that facilitate processing, elaboration, and application; give feedback.
Several online tools are useful in facilitating each of these types of interactions—and you can always reach out to CNDLS if you have questions about how to implement them effectively and easily. When implementing these three interaction types in a classroom, there are plenty of online resources available for teachers to use. Most of these tools are easy to learn, free to use, and work well for student needs.
For effective Learner to Content interactions, we recommend the following tools:
- Panopto (video platform): This video platform can be used withC anvas to make quizzes with video, which you can even embedimbed into Canvas posts. USome things you can use Panopto for are interactive lectures and quizzes, “flipped” classrooms, and student self-assessment.
- Hypothes.is: Hypothes.is is an online note-taking browser extension that allows you and your students to annotate and take notes on any webpage. This is useful not only for communal note taking, but also for textual reflections and content highlighting. This tool works on many websites, and some of our faculty have been using it for years now.
- Kahoot/Quizlet: These fun quiz platforms can be used for ice-breakers among students, self-assessment, and even for students to review material (think “flash cards”).
For effective Learner to Learner (or peer-to-peer) interactions, we recommend the following tools:
- Hypothes.is: Students can This tool has great peer potential as well, with the ability to share notes, annotations, and citations, as well as collaborate on the same document,the ability to discuss notes and work indo groups activities.
- Panopto/Voicethread: these presentation tools are useful for giving group presentations and for leading discussions in online and in-person classrooms.
- Canvas Collaborations: Use this Canvas feature to organize group projects or brainstorms.
Finally, for effective Learner to Instructor interactions, we recommend the following tools:
- Canvas Announcements: You may already use in your teaching, but we want to highlight its beneficial impact when it’s used to communicate regularly with students, and includes course-related content, citations, and external links to supplemental materials.
- Poll Everywhere/Google Polls/Qualtrics: Polling tools are super useful for prompting student curiosity on subjects, having students actively consider what they’ve just learned, and they help students generate critical thinking and debate on topics they’ve learned about or discussed in class.
- Jamboard: Another tool you are likely already familiar with, Jamboard, allows you to teach using an online whiteboard, annotate text and images, discuss using activities like “pros and cons” lists, and brainstorm with the post-it notes feature.
Join us on January 9, 2023 in the Car Barn for Digital Learning Days, where we’ll have lunch and hear from a panel of faculty sharing small tips and tricks they’ve incorporated into their teaching to improve their classrooms, including the implementation of digital tools to foster effective interactions. After, we’ll be available for one-on-one consultations if you have any questions regarding any strategies named above, or otherwise.
View the schedule and register for Digital Learning Days, scheduled for Monday, January 9.
Kuh, G. D. (2009). The National Survey of Student Engagement: Conceptual and empirical foundations. In R. M. Gonyea & G. D. Kuh (Eds.), Using NSSE in institutional research. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2009(141), 5–20.