3 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Student Engagement
As technology becomes increasingly present in K-12 classrooms, it’s important that we look closely and strategically at the role technology plays in student learning. In a 21st century learning environment, students and educators have the opportunity to collaborate to set learning objectives, experiment with new tools, and design for a learning experience that’s meaningful to each individual student. With the growing body of knowledge from student data insights and the field of learning science, we have so much available to us to drive that relationship between student, content, and technology. But the opportunities that come with education technology are still so unexplored that it’s absolutely crucial to keep the specific purpose the technology will serve at the forefront of instruction.
For many educators, tech poses an important opportunity to increase student engagement. To support you in reaching your goals, we’ve gathered three of our favorite ways to use technology to increase student engagement:
Adapt the way you teach to the way your students learn.
Central to student engagement is the relationship between student and teacher in designing learning experiences. A new piece of technology will not keep students engaged on its own (at least, not for long). You can foster long-term engagement by observing how students interact with technology, gathering feedback on tech use directly from the students themselves, and ensuring that they are effectively using technology specifically for the purpose of learning. We often focus on the fact that students are “digital natives,” but this doesn’t mean they know how to use technology in the context of a classroom. In this way, using technology to boost student engagement is very much a trial-and-error process — but each new iteration of tech implementation isn’t a guess based on a hunch. It’s an informed decision based on the trusting, respectful relationship between student and teacher.
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Learn more about each student every day.
Are you noticing any trends in this list? Again, using technology to boost student engagement comes back to the relationship between student and teacher, and the role of student-centered learning in instructional design. Every student will interact with technology in a different way. Some may need more explicit instruction on how to use tech specifically for the purpose of learning, and others might need a more dynamic experience, where time for group work or movement are integrated into tech use. We know that the time you spend with each of your students is incredibly valuable to you. So, we encourage you to look at those moments strategically — for each conversation or interaction you have with a student, consider one new thing you learned about them. Or, provide students with specific opportunities to communicate what they want you to know about them. Then, take that information and use it to guide learning design.
For a classroom example, see:
Foster inclusivity by creating multiple pathways to discovery.
Technology offers unique opportunities for differentiation and inclusivity. The knowledge you’ve gained about your students and the relationships you’ve formed with them from the last two tips will be particularly useful as you set out to foster a more inclusive learning environment. Inclusivity is key to engagement — students who feel incapable or unwelcome in the classroom will disengage from the experience, and we can’t blame them for that. You can use technology to boost engagement and promote inclusivity by creating multiple pathways for discovery. Ensure that your tech implementation strategy isn’t a one-size-fits all approach, and that students can work towards their personal learning objectives by using technology in a variety of ways. Much of this strategy for engagement will also depend on the language you use with students, and the mindset you adopt as a classroom. Technology can act as a powerful tool to propel the inclusivity forward in when it comes to boosting student engagement.
We look at the issue of boosting student engagement using technology through the lens of learning science. Learn more about uniting the science of learning with the art of teaching below: