Educational pedagogy and curriculum need to be updated from didactic teaching methods of static knowledge to ensure today’s students will develop the adaptability, digital literacy, collaboration, problem-solving and communication skills required in today’s world. Student engagement is the key area for making these changes and ensuring online education will be successful.
My paper will begin with an explanation of how the world has changed in the last few decades, creating a large gap between education and today’s society. I will examine the skills that the Conference Board of Canada lists as valuable to be successful in our informational era and identify critical areas for focus. I will then outline key characteristics of today’s young students and show how they align well with many areas of adult education.
Having established a background that shows the need for education that is more learner-centered and collaborative, I will explore participation and student engagement by looking at some recent research. One model of engaged learning, developed by Leach and Zepke (2010) at Massey University in New Zealand, is a conceptual organizer with four main areas: motivation, transactional engagement, institutional support, and active citizenship.
Another source will be the University of Alberta’s Parsons and Taylor’s (2011) elaboration of how to improve student engagement through the six common elements of Interaction, Exploration, Relevancy, Multimedia and Technology, Engaging and Challenging Instruction, and Authentic Assessment. I did not make the connection until I saw references from a paper co-authored with our very own Servage. A third source will be from a paper presented at the 43rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (2011) by Hrastinski & Jaldemark that outlines Inhibitors and counteractions by aspect of participation.
Finally, I will end the paper with discussion around some specific tools that can be used to increase student engagement in courses that we offer to students. This portion of the paper will include podcasts, wiki-based group assignments, social bookmarking, and using teaching assistants to manage large class sizes of online discussion groups. There will also be a look at specific strategies that can be used within online discussion at different stages of the course to impact difference phases of cognitive presence.
Beck, D.. (2009). Sensible Tools of Engagement: Three Channels for Online Education, and Why You Should Use Them, eLearn, New York, NY: 2009(12). DOI: 10.1145/1661377.1662736.
Gatlin, K., & Alexander, P. (2010). Using clinical teaching assistants to foster student engagement in online courses. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 4, 1-14. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/759652461?accountid=9838
Hoskins, B. J. (2012). Connections, Engagement, and Presence. Journal Of Continuing Higher Education, 60(1), 51-53. doi:10.1080/07377363.2012.650573
Jaldemark, J., & Hrastinski, S., (2011). How and why do students of higher education participate in online seminars? Education and Information Technologies. 17(3), 253-271.
Parsons, J., & Taylor, L., (2011). Student Engagement: What Do We Know and What Should We Do? Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta. 28-48. doi: 10610811