Following on from an initial workshop on student feedback, the second half-day workshop in a planned series involving the Faculty of Health was on student engagement. Presenters from the IML’s Academic Language and Learning (ALL) team, the LX.lab and the Faculty of Health’s School of Nursing and Midwifery looked at student engagement from a variety of angles.

What is engagement and why it is important

Caroline Havery from the Academic Language and Learning team (ALL) welcomed the attendees and kicked off the day with activities. The idea of working together in small groups on activities helped participants engage and feel part of a learning community.

The first activity was an icebreaker: Going on a picnic. Each person started by saying “My name is X I am going on a picnic and I am taking…” They then say something that starts with the same letter as their name (e.g. “My name is Caroline; I am going on a picnic and I am taking a carrot.”). The second person had to do the same and repeat what the first person said. This icebreaker activity demonstrated the importance of remembering names and how the experience made them feel connected. 

For the second activity, participants were put into groups and asked to answer 3 questions:

  • How do you know your students are engaged in your classroom and online?
  • What do you do to engage students?
  • What are the challenges you encounter in engaging students? 

Participants had a chance to read others’ responses to see if they notice anything familiar or have not thought of – a way of learning from peers and sharing ideas. 

A third activity focused on diversity in the classroom and ways of promoting interaction between students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Caroline introduced a story about a student who felt she was an ‘outsider’ in the classroom. Workshops participants were asked to reflect on this story and respond to the question: “As a teacher, what would you do to change this situation?”

What do students mean by ‘interactivity’?

In the most recent UTS Student Digital Experience survey, one of the things that students highlight most predominantly is the desire for ‘interactivity’ as part of their digital learning.

The LX.lab’s Marty van de Weyer discussed what students think interactivity means and what teaching staff consider it to be. Different viewpoints and potential responses are captured in this blog post and you can also dig deeper into Marty’s resource collection on Human Centred Design for learning and teaching.

Showcase on H5P

Elizabeth Brogan from School of Nursing and Midwifery talked about how in-built H5P tool in Canvas was incorporated into two undergraduate nursing subjects to improve learner engagement in the online learning environment. 

Some of the reasons H5P was used were to help with scaffolding learning in activities, presenting key aspects in a target manner, breaking down into subcomponents to highlight key contents, and the ability to repeat for self-check. There are a range of content types available in H5P and Elizabeth used image hotspots, flashcard, drag and drop, interactive book, true/false, and accordion content types. In the future, she’ll try the virtual tour (360) as well as interactive video content types to challenge her students as well as herself. 

Promoting inclusivity in student engagement

Ashley Willcox, Inclusive Practices Support Officer from the LX.lab’s Inclusive Practices team, began her presentation by showing a video of Digital Accessibility Ambassadors explaining digital accessibility. She then shared these simple accessible content practices on what teaching staff can incorporate to make their subject site and learning materials clear and accessible for all students. 

She also explained how teaching staff can support students with accessibility requirements by sending materials beforehand, using a clear content structure, descriptive links and heading levels to help students who use assistive technology such as NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) screen readers.

In an exciting collaboration, UTS has partnered with the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) to share, develop and promote resources that support educators in the university sector to teach in an accessible way.

Increasing student engagement with Mentimeter

Building on the opening workshop on engagement, the last session was on Mentimeter – UTS’s polling tool. Natasha Sutevski ran an interactive session to show how Mentimeter can be used for student engagement and interactivity. Attendees were involved in answering her questions using either their mobile phone or laptop. 

Natasha explained that polling tool can be quite effective in engaging students as it is anonymous. 

Find out how to set up Mentimeter account and get inspired by an academic’s story on how to make the most of Mentimeter.  

More to come…

If your faculty is interested in a similar collaborative workshop as the one described here – please get in touch with the LX.lab.

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