At BSD Education, we are always exploring new ideas to help boost students’ engagement in the classroom. It is important to boost engagement levels because engaged students are more curious and motivated in any given subject matter. With a growing sense of curiosity and motivation, this can greatly elevate and improve their overall learning achievements and experiences.
Can we boost student engagement with technology initiatives at schools and districts – for example, with increased computer lab time, 1:1 device programs, etc.? Just by introducing tech tools like smart screens, online quizzes and games will only boost engagement for a little while. What we want is to establish sustainable engagement that has a meaningful impact.
Technology in the classroom doesn’t have to be a distraction and burden for teachers. Let’s explore ways to take advantage of our students’ interest in technology as a vehicle for better student engagement. Here are 3 of our favorite ways in boosting student engagement:
“What’s in it for me (as a student)?”
Our students want to know how and why the content they are presented with is relevant to them. This concept is not new and has long been associated with social psychology (Frymier and Shulman). As educators, we are on the lookout to connect with students to ensure that their learning is relevant to them. Consider introducing a simple tech project where students can gain practical skills in digital design and coding through online learning projects, such as creating a reading blog, or creating a dynamic adventure game to showcase their understanding instead of a traditional book report. Students will feel accomplished with a new skill that they have practiced and are able to apply in other areas of study.
Change it up
When students get familiar and in a routine in your classroom, you might feel that you have your classroom management secured and that your classroom is running like clockwork, but it is also important to try something different from time to time to keep your students interested. You can pique your students’ interests if you introduce a new concept through an interactive tech project (that they can also code and build) instead of a more traditional approach, such as showing them a documentary.
Give them choice
Allow students to make a choice in the projects that they do and how they want to learn. When students are given the opportunity to have an active role in their learning, they will feel more compelled to listen, engage themselves and take ownership in their learning. Technology projects may not be suitable or interesting to all students, but we shouldn’t take away the opportunity for other students to thrive through tech projects. Promote student agency in your classroom by giving tech projects as an option of creative learning and output.
As educators, we should also ensure the content and learning objectives are presented clearly so that the chosen tech activities are meaningful and have immediate value to your students. When it is done right, technology can enhance student interest and understanding, as well as open opportunities for student agency and creativity.