Enhancing Student Engagement: Students can’t learn when they are asleep.

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Nowhere in college handbooks does it state that learning will be dry, dull and at times stressful beyond measure. However, much of the class time in universities across the country is seemingly governed by an iron fist of boredom interspersed with cram-and-purge testing several times a semester. This scenario isn’t fun for students or their instructors who look out at their glazed and sleeping (or texting) students and wonder what it is they might do differently. The following resources may help. These learning technologies are designed to spice up lecture delivery and bolster student engagement both in and out of the classroom. Harnessing the power of learning technology linked by mobile devices (which are even more ubiquitous than piercings among the college population these days) may help open instructor-student and student-student communication for your class in ways you never thought possible.

Echo360 provides blended learning software for successful flipped classroom education. When students engage in the basic material on their own time, class time can then be used to address questions and complete assignments with instructor aid. Echo360 creates an easy environment for instructors to film lectures for students to view out-of-class as well as generate and post other mobile learning media resources for students to access. Students and instructors can also communicate via Echo360 regarding course material. Echo360 isn’t free and it isn’t the only way to create blended learning course material, but it is a great tool that we couldn’t resist sharing with you.

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets – basically any device that has internet access. Teachers and students both join the “class room” (much like joining a chat room or conference call). Students can then answer multiple choice questions posed by the instructor. Students can also complete quizzes whose results are sent via email to the instructor who can then gauge on-going understanding and give instant feedback. To get a quick rundown, Socrative has a great intro video on their homepage.

Hotseat is similar to Socrative as a mobile device interface to engage students. Yet, with Hotseat, instructors can provide a framework for a short answer response via twitter, facebook or the Hotseat browser to incorporate digital discussions into the class and get student feedback in a lecture setting.  Students can vote on questions to be addressed in class to allow for better use of class time. This video and this article discuss some of the finer points of Hotseat which Purdue University has adopted to allow instructors to adjust course material to better suit its students needs and improve the learning experience.

Sliderocket is an exciting, interactive presentation platform designed to create dynamic presentations and allow for viewership tracking to generate analytical data. Viewers can leave comments and the resulting feedback allows for constant improvement of presentations. Old PowerPoints can be uploaded and modified or created from scratch. SlideRocket presentations can be shared with other collaborators (or students) and when a slide is updated, all the slides in the library or shared libraries are also updated. Available in free-mium (basic is free, extras comes at a price) form, SlideRocket could be a powerful way for instructors and students to connect in class or even through an online learning management system such as Moodle or Blackboard.

Similar to SlideRocket, but different enough to merit mention, Yawnbuster’s mission is also to bring alive PowerPoint presentations with group activities such as audience polls, games, group exercises and competitions to encourage participation and highlight key points. YawnBuster employs Flash templates for group activities which are embeddable inside PowerPoint.

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About Ashley

Ashley has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and M.E.M. with an emphasis in Environmental Health from Yale. Currently, she blogs on delicious recipes and holistic nutrition at RecipesForLife.us

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