The trend towards greater student engagement begins with forging a closer relationship between instructors and students.
Over the last decade this trend has been informed by a greater reliance on technology - specifically, virtual learning environments, computer-based adaptive learning, and off-hour instructor guidance.
The key is making learning a more personal experience for each student, matching learning challenges to the student's current experience and expertise, and finding more ways to leverage technology to bring students closer to instructor's steering hand.
Student Engagement Strategies for 2015
The advent of B.Y.O.D. programs and online educational tutorials as early as elementary school has many students well-acclimated to the idea that learning and technology should go hand-in-hand.
- Relevant, Multimedia-rich Learning
Continuing to lobby this tech advantage by making learning more relevant to student's everyday realities will be critical for driving student engagement. Instructors can improve student engagement virtually overnight by making use of sites like Blackboard and having students participate in collaborative research that has a direct impact on their future. Making student research both collaborative and relevant to their future opportunities (e.g., students' job prospect) is a sure-fire way to drive engagement.
- Instructor-Based Online Instruction
Tomorrow's learning is increasingly going to be taking place in online learning environments that bring together exciting multimedia content. Of course, there's still a place for instructor-based instruction - lectures, though, will increasingly take place online. Lessons delivered over online learning platforms and peppered with weekly quizzes and relevant assignments will continue to drive student engagement through 2015 and beyond.
- Following the 5:1 Learning Method
When students aren't given time to process the information that they've just taken in, they either fail to retain it or get overwhelmed. Providing one minute of Q&A or reflection time for every five minutes of instruction can help students get a better grasp of what they've just learned.
- Around-the-clock Feedback
One of the things that can create a barrier to student engagement is a lack of feedback on their learning trajectory. Online learning works best when it makes use of engaging multimedia content and allows students to get timely answers to their questions. Ideally, students should have the opportunity to get feedback from instructors during regular office hours and their questions answered by teaching assistants via email during off-hours.
- Draw on Current Events
Students can often find studying subjects like history irrelevant to their everyday experiences. To drive student engagement, instructors should continue to create collaborative multimedia assignments that, say, ask students to create a checklist of issues 2016 U.S. presidential candidates need to address to remain electable.
- Computer-based Adaptive Learning
Since students understandably get bored when they're not being challenged by material matched up to their current skill level, incorporating adaptive learning is an essential ingredient to driving student engagement. Adaptive learning is, by definition, more dynamic than traditional instructor since adaptive learning does two things well. Firstly, adaptive learning turns learning from a passive to active process and, secondly, adaptive learning can be paired with existing online platforms.
- Foster Critical Thinking
Students, like the rest of us, are actually disengaged as they're rehashing old or frequently repeated opinions. Instructors that push students to critically think through complex issues and collaborate on their findings directly drive student engagement.
- Integrated Learning Systems
An integrated learning system keeps ongoing checks of each student's daily progress and moves students to the next level or provides remedial lessons to get students up to speed. The fact than an integrated learning system, like adaptive learning, tailors instruction to a student's current learning level keeps students engaged - neither bored nor overwhelmed by new material.
This article is a guest post by Academy of Learning College, a career and business college with over 50 locations across Canada.