Engagement and Motivation

Digital Games to Engage Students in Learning

Guest Contributor: Dan Petrak, Des Moines Area Community College.
Though every course has different objectives and aims related to a particular field of study, all instructors desire that students become truly engaged in — and perhaps even engrossed in — their courses’ material. Today, Dan Petrak of Des Moines Area Community College shares how gaming has increased engagement and motivation in his developmental math courses.
Have you designed games for your classroom? What prompted you to do so? What outcomes did they help your students achieve? Share your input in the comments section.    What is a game? Just the word “game” Read More…


Fun and Learning for Students of Any Age

Games are not just for teaching our youngest learners important skills. In fact, they can be valuable tools for engaging students of any age in course content. In this video, authors Dan Petrak and Maria Andersen discuss how they developed math apps specifically with adult and young adult learners in mind. Based on their understanding of their students’ needs, they worked to create games that encourage persistence and engagement, deter boredom and frustration, and make practice fun in an age-appropriate manner.   Have you created or used a game to engage your students? What factors helped you determine its effectiveness or Read More…


Playing to Learn: Tales from the Trenches

Guest Contributor: Jeannie Novak, Lead Author & Series Editor, Game Development Essentials. In 2003, while speaking at the University of Southern California’s Teaching, Learning & Technology conference, I noticed more than a few visibly uncomfortable educators in the audience. I had recently completed my Master’s thesis on using massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) as online distance learning applications, and I was providing a summary of my findings. The notion of any game posing as a learning management system (LMS) was difficult enough for most to parse—especially at the time—but those who weren’t well versed in the workings of Read More…


Active Learning: A Foundation for the Classroom

Guest Contributor: Dr. Jennifer Hurd. Active learning is a teaching strategy used in many classrooms today. In active learning, the student constructs learning — often in collaboration with other students. The teacher becomes a facilitator of learning rather than a giver of knowledge. Active learning is a student-centered approach. Let me share some personal background on my experience with active learning. Before I learned about active learning, I was a lecturer. I walked in the door talking and walked out talking. Then I met a man named John Parker. He conducted a workshop on active learning and showed many activities that could be used in class regardless of content. I Read More…


Learning from Fellow Students: Creating a Study Group

Do you encourage students to form study groups to learn from one another outside of class? What have you seen work best in these peer learning circles to facilitate progress? Share with us in the comments section below. We’ve written about the benefits of peer-to-peer learning before, but learning from fellow students can extend beyond course assignments–the benefits of working with peers certainly does. In On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life, Skip Downing describes how starting a study group can encourage students to be more invested in course content by interacting more Read More…


Engaging Today’s Changing Learners

In this video, author Jeff Butterfield talks about the changing demographic of today’s learners, and what that means to the teaching and learning experience. He also gives his advice for engaging your learners by changing the way you may be used to doing things and by always asking yourself: Are there are new ways that I could be reaching my students? How have you seen the student demographic in your classroom shift over the years? Share your thoughts on how your students have changed (or not!) in the comments section below.  [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsou8iTDWLQ?wmode=Opaque] Jeff Butterfield holds a Ph.D. from the University Read More…


Incorporating Engaging User Experiences into Library and Research Tools

An Interview with Derek Poppink, Director of User Experience, Cengage Learning. Derek Poppink has been helping to design great experiences for users of Gale library and research products for the past three-and-a-half years. He leads a team of user experience (UX) specialists charged with paying attention to the unique requirements of online library solutions. Jeanne Heston had an opportunity to speak with Derek recently about his design philosophy and the research methods that are critical to his team’s innovation and design processes. Jeanne Heston (JH): What was it that inspired you to get into this field in the first Read More…


Addressing the Challenges of Military Transition: Beginning or Returning to College

Guest Contributor: Andrea J. Burr, DP1 First Class Petty Officer.  What particular needs, attitudes, and expectations do former military personnel bring to the college classroom? How can an instructor address those issues, preferences, and challenges within his or her course?

Given her military experience, as well as her work as an instructor and mentor to ex-military personnel, Andrea Burr is uniquely qualified to answer such questions. Below, she shares her insights into the mindset that they bring to the classroom, and she also offers her strategies for helping these students make the most of class time.
Has your classroom played Read More…


Collaborative Learning: Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom (Part 2 of 2)

Guest Contributor:  Kristopher M. Carilli, Account Executive, ConnectYard.

Part Two of a Two-Part Series. Read Part One, Collaborative Learning: Leveraging Social Learning Sites, here.

The development and expansion of a new class of sites, Social Learning Sites (SLS), has enabled learners and their instructors to realize the benefits of the social web in academia. SLS provide the ability to expand one’s network by rapidly creating contacts to people, as with traditional social networking sites (SNS). In addition, SLS follow best practices for encouraging improved student learning outcomes and persistence to graduation. Decades of research on undergraduate learning has distilled several key Read More…


Collaborative Learning: Leveraging Social Learning Sites (Part 1 of 2)

Guest Contributor: Kristopher M. Carilli, Account Executive, ConnectYard. Part One of a Two-Part Series. For the past two decades a transformation has been occurring in teaching and learning circles. There has been a transition from the traditional lecture centered model of instruction to one that emphasizes student discussions and active engagement with curriculum content. The term “collaborative learning” has been coined to describe strategies that support the latter model, including learning communities, virtual learning communities, and social learning sites (SLS). The rapid advance of information technology and the growing popularity of social networking sites have provided additional opportunities to Read More…