As a Tech Coach, I often hear people say that technology is used to “get students engaged.” Oftentimes, the term “engagement” is used synonymously with the word “entertained.” While this is partially true, student engagement goes far beyond just entertainment and initial interest.
In her book, The Perfect Blend, Michele Eaton discusses fostering engagement in students. She says, “[Fostering engagement] does not mean merely keeping students entertained, but rather keeping them deeply invested in their learning.” This idea is a lot more than just using technology for an anticipatory set or hook for a lesson or unit. Once you’ve got their attention, you have to keep the ball rolling, and the effective and proven way to do this is to use technology as a vehicle.
In order to keep students engaged in your lessons, teachers should be connecting the learning happening online with the learning happening in the classroom. One should segue into the other, and equal importance should be placed on both. Students must know they are not only accountable for the work they do in front of you, but also for the work they do independently. This is the only real way that blended learning can work.
Using Technology to Maximize your Time
Think about your whole group lessons. They will most likely be a lecture, discussion, or demonstration. How can you leverage technology in these cases to allow you the opportunity for more personalized contact time with your students? Can your lecture be recorded, so students can play it back or pause it when they need to take notes and write down questions? Can your discussion take place online so that shy students feel more comfortable speaking and sharing thoughts and ideas, or so students can answer each other’s questions? Can your demonstration be done through a recording to provide a visual that can be referenced later? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you’ve successfully given yourself more class time to meet with students individually or in small groups, allowing time to clarify information, answer questions, and/or delve deeper into content.
Technology can and should be an integral part in all classroom settings. If done effectively, it can allow teachers more time for quality student interactions, give students agency in their learning, and, dare I say, provide more quality student engagement.
If you’d like to implement any of the ideas shared above or have questions, contact a Tech Coach today. Let’s talk!