How to engage all learners with ed tech

Online instruction using audio, video and other tools helps to ensure inclusivity

As the coronavirus pandemic has led colleges nationwide to move courses online, schools have adopted videoconferencing platforms to facilitate interactive learning among faculty and students.

Videoconferencing tools, however, are just one strategy faculty should use to engage learners in any type of course, whether it’s face to face or online, says Susan Stephan, associate dean of graduate and online programs at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law in Florida.

“The one thing that might come out of this horrible situation that we’re in is students are going to learn how to connect through some of these tools and get used to working that way when we are face to face,” Stephan says. 

Presenting content in multiple ways

Today’s college classroom is as diverse as ever, ranging from nontraditional students returning to college as adults to students with physical and learning disabilities. While teaching a wide range of learners presents challenges, faculty can leverage an array of technology tools to help students learn effectively. 

“We know as human beings that some of us learn in different ways,” Stephan says. “Some of us like to hear things, some of us like to see things and some of us like to read things.”

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The optimal learning environment is one that presents content in multiple ways to engage learners, Stephan says. Strategies can include audio, video, discussion boards, online collaboration and quiz tools—all of which can be embedded in a learning management system or in other types of educational software.

To help educators ensure that both online and face-to-face courses are inclusive to all types of learners, Stephan provides these three tips:

  1. Consider the learning outcomes of the course and make sure that the expectations for students are clear.
  2. Assess whether the course is inclusive to as many students as possible.
  3. Use a range of pedagogical approaches to present the course material so the content is accessible to students with different abilities and learning styles.

Sherrie Negrea is a writer based in Ithaca, New York.

UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

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