The Wow Factor
Humans get bored. In a learning environment, boredom can be caused by a lack of understanding or it can be caused by a lack of stimulation. Boredom can cause annoyance when something is missing that a learner is craving. Even during a “normal” semester, students need to have activities that engage them in learning to keep them from being bored. Whether you are teaching online, hybrid, or face-to-face this year, it is important to include activities that engage students in the content of your course in a way that keeps their interest and keeps them learning.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a performer or a digital content creation whiz. It simply means that students should be asked to generate their own questions and connections, recall previous knowledge, and integrate new information with that previous knowledge to aid in understanding. To put it simply, ask students to learn something, then provide the opportunity for them to think about and apply what they’ve learned. Metacognition leads to active learning.
Ask students to solve problems with no clear right or wrong answer. This gives them the opportunity to critically explore an issue and see different sides to a problem.
Force reflection. Give students opportunities to reflect on what they have learned and explain how they can apply what they learned to your content, to other courses and outside of the classroom.
Provide opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction. Students learn from each other when they discuss content together.
Mix up the content. The best way to keep students’ interest is to utilize different methods throughout your course. One week, include a discussion in Padlet. Another week, create a video with embedded activities using Playposit (see Dr. Lorenzo Brancaleon’s Summer 2020 study here). Yet another week, include a group activity that requires students to research a topic together. Variety helps.
Watch Drew Stephen, Associate Professor in the Music Department in COLFA explain his process.