While many schools had begun to use blended learning to increase on-task time for student learning and to allow for student choice and personalized learning options before the pandemic, COVID-19 has made providing instruction via digital learning environments a necessity. In a physical classroom, one can walk through the room and see signs of engagement, but how can we gauge engagement and promote it when providing instruction in a digital format?
Last week, ACT brought together four experienced educators to share strategies and resources we can use to engage learners in instruction, as we provide instruction in a variety of digital environments and post-pandemic.
Our panelists considered these four questions when thinking through strategies and resources for increasing learner engagement. Some highlights included:
- How can we define student engagement and monitor it in digital learning environments? Engaging in a shared virtual space where learning and instruction take place can be challenging. Try using engagement monitoring tools, formative assessment, and/or shared feedback documents to define and monitor your students’ engagement levels. The resources provided share some quality technology-based tools to use for these purposes.
- Are there cultural factors that may impact how students engage in learning in these environments? How can I respect diverse learners and ensure equity in learning? Begin by taking the time to learn about your students’ background, interests, and cultural contexts. Ask questions to prompt students to share how we can best support their learning. Questions might include:
1. What can I and other adults in your life do to help you learn?
2. Do you prefer to work independently or with others?
3. What is the best location for you to work in the classroom and at home to be able to fully engage in learning?
- How can teaching SEL skills increase student engagement? When you take time to teach skills such as self-advocacy, time management, and coping strategies, students feel like they belong and experience reduced stress. Teaching SEL not only increases engagement in your classroom but helps to build lifelong employability skills.
- How can use of blended learning (adaptive learning platforms) increase student engagement? The benefits of using an adaptive learning platform along with traditional instruction are notable. They include increased accessibility to instruction when and where students are able to learn, opportunities for students to receive tailored, personalized learning, and timely and frequent feedback for students, and data to drive instructional decisions for teachers.
In the coming weeks, we’ll dive more deeply into each of these questions and provide more strategies and resources that you can put into practice in your classrooms right away. Visit here next week when we tackle defining and monitoring student engagement in a digital learning environment.