5 Tech Tools for Student Engagement

5 Tech Tools for Student Engagement

Student engagement in the classroom is extremely important for one reason and one reason alone. The more engaged students are — in any classroom — the more they tend to learn.

So it’s in a teacher or professor’s best interests to ensure they are using methods that will keep their classroom engaged and stimulated. That can be difficult when you have a room full of unique individuals. That is, every student is different, and that means they will not be stimulated by the same teaching methods.

That’s where modern technology comes into play. There are a variety of tools that can be used in the classroom to improve or elevate a lesson. To some, it may seem counterintuitive to involve technology in the classroom, but you have to consider technology has become a huge part of our lives in today’s world. So much so that technology alone can improve engagement ratings.

1. Echo360

Echo360 is a digital learning platform that not only offers a variety of teaching functionality and tools but can also analyze engagement levels in the classroom. With it, you’ll know exactly what forms of teaching are working best and which are nothing more than a flop.

You can do things for your students such as ask questions through short polls, conduct quizzes and organize group work and discussion sessions. Of course, it’s designed for a curriculum delivered via digital platforms. Students can participate via laptops, desktop computers, mobile devices and tablets.

All activity is tracked through the platform, and every participating student is given a report card, which is updated on a daily basis. This allows you to pinpoint which students need a little more attention and which are more independent.

More importantly, the analytical tools can help you discern what kind of engagement ratings you’re receiving in the classroom and allows you to take action. If you’re not getting enough, you can look at what types of lessons work best and which don’t. There’s nothing more invaluable in the classroom than knowing how much your students are actually learning.

2. TopHat

TopHat is a “comprehensive teaching platform” designed to help professors create and deliver an interactive lecture to a room full of students. Students can bring their own devices to the lecture hall — including smartphones, tablets, and laptops — and tap into the classroom response system.

Through TopHat, professors can broadcast interactive slides and presentations, conduct questionnaires or polls, play back video or audio, spark discussions and much more. Quizzes and tests can even be conducted on the platform with several different question types:

  • Multiple choice
  • Click on target
  • Rank answer
  • Word cloud

All participation by students is automatically graded based on the parameters you set, whether that be decided by participation levels, performance or a combination of the two.

Furthermore, no special equipment is needed to tap into the network, as it uses a unique web-based app that can be accessed from any device. There’s even an offline version if your classroom doesn’t have Internet access.

3. Social Media

Believe it or not, there are ways to incorporate social media into the classroom to improve engagement ratings. You could encourage students to use networks such as Facebook, Tumblr, or Pinterest to share their work. You could also employ these platforms to encourage collaboration.

However, one of the most promising ways to utilize social media in the classroom is to require students to keep a personal blog. Allow each student to pick a topic they wish to learn and write about, and then encourage them to publish content on a blog about it. This will keep them reading relevant articles about their topic on a regular basis. It will also encourage them to improve their vocabulary and grammar as they produce content.

More importantly, it will help them get used to using technology for simple things such as using hyperlinks, embedding images on the web, and citing digital sources.

Plus, when all is said and done, their work is always available for them to review later. This includes content they can share in their professional portfolios long after they’re out of your classroom.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone, and you can easily grade student performance and participation on these platforms.

4. BYOD — Tablets and Mobile Devices

You’d think allowing students to bring their own devices into the classroom, and use them, would lower engagement ratings. According to recent studies, that’s not the case at all.

While self-reporting, 54 percent of students indicated they get more involved when classes make use of technology, while an additional 55 percent stated that they wished instructors would employ more educational games and digital simulations during lessons.

Case in point, it’s okay to employ mobile devices and tablets that students bring into the classroom on their own. There are a variety of software tools and platforms out there to help you create digital lectures and lessons, which your students can actively participate in. Of course, this will create a new set of obstacles, such as being able to tell when your students are actually participating or when they’re browsing the web, texting or playing games on their device instead.

Platforms such as Echo360 and TopHat — which we’ve already discussed — can help in the distraction department.

5. Presentation Software

Another great tool that works wonders for visual learners is presentation software such as Prezi or Slideshare. With such tools, you can take boring data and information and make it pop through simple animations and visual content.

You can really spruce up a presentation or lesson you’re planning to give with these tools. But they can also serve another purpose. In classes where you have access to technology, you could allow students the option to create presentations of their own. This is a great idea for class projects where students have to educate their fellow classmates using the information they gathered on their own.

Many presentation sites include a database of existing slides and lessons you can download to share with your classroom or edit to your liking.

Technology Is Everywhere

Whether you like it or not, technology is everywhere these days and we use it constantly. Students of all ages are going to need to understand and know their way around it once they get into the real world. This is why it’s a great idea to start using technology in the classroom.

Not only does it improve engagement ratings, and in many ways make your job easier, but you’re also imparting valuable knowledge and experience your students will need after they leave the classroom, too.

About the Author
Author: Megan Nichols
Megan Nichols is the editor at Schooled By Science, a blog dedicated to making science understandable. She is an astronomy and technology enthusiast who loves learning.

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