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 student 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 maximising 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.
As we’ve said before, learning doesn’t have to be restricted to one place. The same can be said for student engagement in that it doesn’t need to be restricted to just those who attend the same school.
The beauty of technology is that, with the right resources in place, it allows students to engage with anyone, anywhere in the world. With tools such as Skype for Business, for example, your students can collaborate with other schools around the world, or even find out more about space by connecting with NASA! The possibilities are endless.
This ultimately helps to enhance the learning experience by learning about different subjects in a new and exciting way and broadens the collaboration opportunities further between students by engaging them in a different way of learning.
Explore new horizons
Who said that learning had to be all about books, books and more books!
Students today are driving innovation. They are willing to experiment, collaborate, and immerse themselves in new ways of communication, learning, and getting things done. But – they need an educational experience to match.
There are so many tools and technological methods out there nowadays to help students engage their learning, explore and construct new knowledge.
Utilising online tools such as YouTube, Office 365, blogs and vlogs, or even offline creation tools such as video editing and Photoshop, can open up a whole new learning experience for your students and really bring them together for improved collaboration. Embrace the power of technology and use it as a tool that sparks engagement with our 21st century learners.
Stimulating student interaction and motivation is no easy feat for teachers. Increased student engagement and collaboration is key to any students’ academic success and teachers therefore play a vital role in cultivating student interaction through technology.
Technology as a tool helps you to create and present content that’s not only interesting and engaging but also relevant to students and their learning experience. When delivering your lessons in a way that’s relevant to your students they become more engaged, active learners.
As part of your role, you should be providing increased access to learning resources, tools and information – such as those we’ve mentioned earlier, but there’s heaps more out there too! This allows students to be drawn deeper into a lesson and can even help direct their own learning (linking back to my earlier comment about independent learning). In fact, when integrated effectively into your teaching method, students don’t just learn with technology – they create!
It’s clear that technology is the key to improving student engagement across all stages of education. From physical devices and infrastructure to the teaching techniques and level of activity that students undertake – as education providers it’s down to you to provide a rich learning environment that embraces technology and offers an engaging learning experience worthy of 21st century learners.