5 Tips to Keeping Students Engaged - Guest Blog Post

Guest Post by Heather Slee, eLearning Production Designer, and former educator.

During my short time as a classroom teacher at a local technical college, I had, at one time, been pretty happy that I’d gotten in a groove. First, we’d talk about the reading assignment. Then, we’d do some writing. Then, we’d do a quick grammar lesson. Then we’d talk about our projects. (I know this sounds like the greatest class ever and you want to sign up immediately, but I work for Atomic Learning now. Sorry!)

But then I started noticing all the glazed expressions either aimed at the board, their laps (I hadn’t banned phones), or at some imperceptible point on a wall.

It seems literally impossible that learning how to properly use an apostrophe was not enough to keep these students on the edge of their seats, but they were bored. BORED! *shakes head.*

Now I know it’s not a teacher’s job to put on a clown outfit and juggle flaming swords in order to keep a class’s attention, but bored students are not engaged. Unengaged students are bored. And unengaged and bored students aren’t getting the most out of their lessons.

The good news is that there are some cool software applications out there and we have training to help you learn more about these to help you engage your students!

Use quizzes, discussions, and surveys where students can join in real-time. Great for students who aren’t excited about speaking up in class.

Allows you to actively engage students during a class, gauge the level of student understanding of the course material being presented with formative assessment, and provide prompt feedback to students about their learning. (My smarter co-worker wrote that last sentence. She showed me Nearpod and I almost applauded.)

Using MysterySkype, your class can Skype with another class. Using yes/no questions, each class tries to guess where the other class is located. It’s a good way to practice critical thinking skills, interviewing skills, and to learn more about different parts of the world. And it’s FUN.

Google Moderator

Set up a real-time discussion during a lecture. Students can ask questions, discuss stuff that hopefully pertains to what you’re talking about, take surveys and polls, and more.

Microsoft Office Sway

A new, free tool that allows students to create, publish, and share fun, interactive online presentations.  

There are probably a ton of other tools out there to help with student engagement, but here are a few that we came up with. Good luck in avoiding the glazed-over group stare!

In addition to being an Atomic Learning eLearning content developer, Heather is also an author of YA fiction. She did soft skills and software training at a corporation, then found Atomic Learning and joined in a marketing role. Heather left to follow her passion for teaching and became the writing center coordinator at a local college, and also taught some composition and facilitated technology workshops. She found her way back to Atomic Learning and is now on the eLearning team.

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