Melinda Doty is a professor at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
The demand for our classrooms to become entertaining vs. educational has heightened over the past few years. Students today need to be captivated when learning. Otherwise, we lose their attention and they do not retain the information. A simple lecture and PowerPoint presentation is no longer an adequate way to reach our students and keep them engaged. As instructors, we are constantly tasked with finding creative ways of teaching and new ways to convey the material, while striving to allow our students to participate in the learning itself.
Due to the global pandemic and shift in thinking, many new student engagement tools and creative teaching ideas emerged onto the educational scene. In this blog, I discuss some of my favorite new creative ways of teaching to engage students. These can be implemented in all course delivery methods, including face-to-face, HyFlex and asynchronous courses.
Active and experiential learning
An effective method to gain and keep students’ attention is to incorporate active and experiential learning techniques into your course by creating short, low-stakes assignments that count as a participation grade or similar. These learning techniques allow students to review the information while engaging with the material. I’ve found when students actively work with the lesson information in a hands-on manner, their learning outcomes are much higher.
Digital engagement tools
Another creative way I have updated my classes is to add some new tools to my “toolbox.” A quick internet search pulls up a plethora of available student engagement tools that can be used in your course. A few of my favorites are video conference breakout rooms, Kahoot, Flipgrid, Poll Everywhere and Google and/or Microsoft Forms. I’ve been using at least one, but many times more, of these tools in every class as a way to engage with my students and the course material.
- Kahoot is a quick quiz game that allows instructors to customize material for a simple, yet fun way to teach and reinforce the material.
- Flipgrid is a free product, provided by Microsoft, that allows students to record short videos. I employ this tool for introduction assignments as well as quick responses to topic-related questions.
- Poll Everywhere is a quick and easy way to create an on-the-spot word cloud or questions students can answer immediately from their cell phone or computer.
- Google and Microsoft Forms are great tools that can track and share data while also creating simple quizzes for quick assessments of learning in the lecture.
- Video Conference breakout rooms allow students to virtually “break out” into smaller groups to discuss a topic and return with answers or comments. This could also turn into a small-stakes assignment.
Real outcomes from creative ways of teaching
In my experience, I’ve found that simply changing the delivery method of an assignment or encouraging a competition-type game piques students’ attention to the material and drives student success.
Times are changing. Instructors must find ways to meet our students where they are. I hope you begin employing some of these new creative teaching ideas in your classes.
Want even more creative ways of teaching to engage your students? Watch the recordings from our Empowered Educator online conference: Embracing a New College Classroom.