Using technology to increase student engagement: my top tools

Between 10 and 15 minutes.

That’s, according to psychologists , the attention span of students in class these days. A bit of an issue when most classes last between 60 and 90 minutes, right?

Good indicators of a teacher loosing his/her student’s attention are, in my experience, students smiling at their computer or phone screens (they got a message from a friend/lover), or them typing frantically and never looking up at you (they are working on something else, sending an email).

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Alongside all the “traditional” strategies to increase student’s attention and engagement, some apps and technologies can also make a difference.

Forget the time you banned students from going on their phones and computers in class!

Now, you need to push them to use this very technology – that supposedly distracts them – for purposeful use in and out of class. That is, according to me, the way forward.

Here are a few tools that me and my colleagues use and that are worth discovering for improved levels of student engagement:

  • Hstry : I discovered Hstry at a meetup in Brussels where the CTO pitched it. It’s a brilliant tool to create interactive timelines for students, which they can populate themselves too and use for studying purposes out of class. They also share community timelines created by other users, like this cool history of the Internet.
  • Padlet : used by many and available in web and mobile app format, Padlet also has a timeline format where students can post content (videos, documents, pictures, ideas) and structure presentations, topic discussions. It’s a bit more advanced than Hstry in terms of functionalities but equally cool and can be edited directly in class.
  • Jamstorming : another great tool for in-class engagement, which allows teachers to create interactive workshops by adding questions that students will aswer to in class. Students can also vote for the best answers, rate them, and organise them. Data is then downloadable for further use.
  • Cocertify : I just discovered this tool and will try and use it asap, because it allows something I am really keen on, which is peer assessment. You build your assessment with the desired criteria, then share it with students and analyse results afterwards.

I hope these reviews help. And you, which tools do you use as an educator, or even manager to engage your audience? Which ones do you recommend as a student?

 

2 thoughts on “Using technology to increase student engagement: my top tools”

  1. Wow, its amazing to know that 10-15 minute for focus on studying. Its happen this day that one of them is because we are easy to get internet access and hoping google to find answer for what we looking for.
    Nice post and tools list!

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