Engaging students in their learning environments and outside of them as well is an important topic today. Regardless of whether you are teaching face-to-face classes, orchestrating hybrid classes (or flipped classrooms), or facilitating completely online courses - "engagement" opportunities abound.
What does it mean to "engage students?" Getting them involved in their own learning is the easy way to explain that. More and more, research shows that students who feel more responsible, and take more responsibility, for their own learning, in fact, do learn more. Providing engaging ways to learn goes hand in hand with this concept. So, how do you do that?
The basic approach is to give students a voice in the learning environment. Using discussions, either in person or virtually, is a great starting point. Think of it simply as a virtual bulletin board, a place where you can post a talking point or question and students can both reply to your entry and, most importantly, respond then – to each other! The old pedagogical model is stand-and-deliver, or, a sage on the stage approach. Modern educators attempt to become more a guide on the side to their students - guiding their learning - rather than making it merely a plug-and-chug exercise or simple rote learning. Research shows that, in the past, students retained little of what was “delivered to” them. On the other hand, when students assume some increasing levels of responsibility for their own learning – they retain the information longer and, ultimately, utilize it or apply it when they can in their real-world settings.
Again, if your class is face to face, hybrid, or online courses, the Learn LMS is already available for your use, and there is help available to get you started! In this virtual space, some of the practical, and already available, some of the tools available are:
- Discussion boards
- Chat rooms
- Peer review activities
- Social spaces
All of these are available for your use in the Learn LMS – right now. How to get started? Check with your Program, Department, School, or College and see what resources or expertise are available for you in-house. Checking with like-minded and perhaps more-experienced faculty colleagues would be a good second step.
After that, perhaps you would want to contact the Instructional Technology Group (ITG) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-895-1224. You can also stop in to Korman-109 and have an initial conversation with one of the friendly and knowledgeable ITG members. They have had dozens if not hundreds of conversations with faculty interested in more actively engaging their students.
Finally, the OLC Fellows, eight passionate educators themselves, are available for consultation. Look for their names and bios in this site and consider giving them a call.