To put it mildly, 2020 was a year of unwelcome distraction from our usual routines.
2020 brought a partial, even total, reliance on online learning for routine education—a shift most professors had any real long-term experience in managing.
Now the challenge is in finding ways to engage students in ordered and intuitive ways that make learning a welcome escape from the digital chaos and disruption.
The good news is, there are practical ways of doing this. Here are 5 innovative ways to boost student engagement in 2021.
1. Flipped Classroom
The idea of the flipped classroom is to invert the roles of students’ individual learning space, and the collective classroom group space.
The traditional one-way lesson or lecture is first delivered through a presentation, video or additional problem-solving task that students can absorb in their own time.
This opens up the classroom for group discussion during which students reflect, collaborate and explore topics, instead of passively listening to a one-way lecture.
A study by Yousef Aljaraideh of University of Jordan, looking at students’ perception of the impact of ‘flipped classroom’ engagement, found that students felt both more motivated in the flipped-learning model, and better-prepared to face exams.
2. Use the First Two Weeks to Promote Good Habits
Professors and students alike know the feeling of novelty and motivation at the start of a new semester. All the potential and opportunity is ahead of you.
Then come the assignments, the distractions and the heavy lifting. By mid semester some students can slip into negative patterns if they’ve failed to develop positive habits early on.
Habituating students into a positive stride in the first two weeks is crucial for sustained engagement and performance.
- Offer more detailed feedback in the first two weeks. Getting students used to your level of expectation will help them set good expectations of themselves.
- Make sure students are aware early on of how to access and use available resources.
- Communicate early, frequently and clearly how the weeks will unfold and stress the importance of ring-fencing study time to avoid bouts of panic study.
3. Integrate Discussion Tools As Part of Your Lesson Plan
Digital discussion boards – too often poorly-leveraged – present renewed opportunity for engagement.
The true innovators will even upgrade to AI-assisted discussion tools that bring the humble discussion board into the 21st century.
Using discussion boards as an integrated part of the lesson plan will make students active contributors in the plan, while also helping develop higher-order thinking.
It can be used to prepare for the discussion beforehand thus allowing all participants to be on the same level. Furthermore, it’s a useful platform to keep students engaged with a particular subject or topic long after class has ended.
4. Ask Questions that Nourish Debate
Some professors will testify to ‘learning on the job’ as classroom dialogues raise questions that professors themselves become curious about answering.
Some may have a tendency to make a mental note to enlighten themselves privately, away from the scrutiny of the classroom. This is a missed opportunity to generate valuable engagement.
By increasing a sense of peership, a Professor can reduce the linear dynamic and legacy relationship of teacher to passive listening student. Instead, it makes the learnings less intimidating and accessible which encourages active participation.
Furthermore, asking questions that encourage debate will demonstrate a contagious passion and stimulate students to volunteer answers that impress you or their peers.
5. Present the Presentation. Not the Doc-Deck
When engaging students across the shifting context of hybrid classrooms, it’s not hard to overlook some of the fundamental principles of engaging audiences.
Ultimately, that’s what your students are—your audience. In that sense, it’s important to treat them as you would an audience of a different kind.
For example, suppose you were presenting to a business audience, perhaps to obtain financial investment. Your objective is to deliver key information quickly and intuitively, to get the buy-in. It’s the same with your students.
A presentation needs you there to bring out the context. The presentation material itself only there as a prop to give cues about the arguments you’re making.
A docu-deck *doesn’t* benefit from your presence to unpack the detail, and so your presence is substituted by additional, detailed materials that enable students to build the context themselves—the lesson here is, never send the presentation alone, and never present the docu-deck. Especially in an online context, where f2f engagement cues are virtually absent.
How Does Ment.io Open New Possibilities for Student Engagement?
- Drive unbiased AI-assisted participation where ideas -and not the loudest person in the room – win.
- View participation metrics that help you shape engagement strategies.
- Reduce the student dread of pressured, on-the-spot answers.
- Give the introverts the space to get their point across.
- Give extroverts time to consider before speaking impulsively.
- Save workload and time with automated assessment.
- Transform your class from passive listeners into active participants.