We’ve all had it happen. You spend countless hours preparing for a lecture only to watch students lose focus and disengage from class. From cellphones to that one student who manages to derail class (likely for a full 20 minutes after alerting class to the first snowfall out the window), it’s almost impossible to teach a class without some type of distraction.
As instructors, we’re tasked with a lot. Achieving maximum comprehension, information retention and improving test scores are just a few of the challenges faced in addition to maintaining student attention.
If you’re ready to take back your class time and refocus attention on course material, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out how you can leverage digital learning in your classroom to fight these distractions and foster student engagement.
Teaching your classroom in a one-size-fits-all mindset
In any classroom, there are students who learn at a different pace than the planned syllabus. Some students grasp concepts quickly, and may become bored by too much classroom time spent on a topic, while others struggle to keep up.
There are countless reasons why a student may fall behind – whether it’s an overloaded schedule or something happening in their personal life. Regardless of the reason, a student who’s struggling to keep up, is increasingly likely to disengage from class and runs the risk of falling even further behind.
When students can master basic subject level concepts away from the classroom, professors are able to refocus class time on engaging students by expanding on core concepts.
Drowning in a sea of outdated class resources
Let’s face it. No student wants an instructor who bogs them down with dozens of different paper handouts and online portals that may or may not have been constructed during the dawn of the internet.
For many students, keeping track of materials for all their classes, including textbooks and paper handouts, can be a struggle. And a student who forgets one of the 80 “essential” materials for class that day may be unable to participate.
Traditional materials like textbooks are a stark contrast to other media that students today are more familiar with. Today’s students are used to the internet, where simple keyword searches produce immediate results and relevant information on any internet-connected device.
Confining all classroom materials in an online learning management system simplifies organization by placing all class and student materials in one place. With the necessary materials easily accessible, students are free to focus on learning and staying engaged in the classroom (unless someone breaks out a fidget spinner, at which point we can’t help you).
Lecture format classes
Keeping students engaged can be particularly difficult in a large lecture setting. With dozens, or even hundreds of students in just a single class, it’s no surprise to find professors standing at the front of the room talking for the entire period and hoping that some small fraction of their wisdom is being absorbed.
Obstacles like acoustics for students in the back, or those who take advantage of class setup to escape on social media, are just a few of the challenges faced.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, trust us when we say you’re not alone. One of the best ways to foster greater engagement in a lecture-style class is through interactive question-and-answer sessions and peer discussions supplemented by an online learning platform.
With a solution like this, professors can break a large class into groups quickly and easily, while receiving instant feedback to tailor lessons to student preferences.
Avoiding new technology
With the prevalence of social media and smartphones, it’s no surprise that today’s students expect to be constantly connected. Interacting with the world through their smartphones and tablets, it’s quite common for disconnect to occur when professors use outdated technology.
With news apps and social networking platforms enabling information to spread like wildfire, today’s students are used to information in real time. When the internet provides them the information that they need instantly, it’s common for them to lose patience with textbooks written years before their time.
Instead, professors can leverage the devices with which students are already familiar and which they bring to class, to provide a more interactive learning environment. An online learning platform makes it easy for professors to pose questions and receive immediate feedback from each student in the classroom (rather than one or two), and adjust their instructional strategies in real time.