Spark Student Learning: Tips and Tools to Increase Engagement

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Do you struggle with keeping your students engaged online?  In this session, we will discuss strategies for effective learning and how to present content in an engaging way.  Takeaways include examples of how NC State University instructors approach and increase engagement with multimedia tools that spark learning in their courses.


Suzanne is a Lead Instructional Technologist in DELTA at NC State University. She develops and leads workshops for the faculty and staff on various technology tools, such as Google, Blackboard Collaborate, and Moodle. Suzanne also provides personalized training and support for the WolfWare Outreach Service. Prior to NC State, she worked at Davidson County Community College as an Instructional Technology Specialist. Suzanne also taught elementary school for seven years before making the transition to higher education. Suzanne obtained her Master of Arts in Educational Media from Appalachian State University and her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, also from Appalachian State.

Extended Abstract

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote is simple, yet holds a lot of meaning when thinking about engagement in the learning process.  Student engagement is commonplace in higher education, and critical to both learning and success (Kahu, 2013). The more instructors can do to provide and maintain engagement, the more successful their students will be!

Our learning objectives for this session are as follows: by the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify cognitive strategies and best practices when developing and presenting content.
  • Determine how to effectively use both LMS and external tools to support and promote student engagement.
  • Develop an engaging experience utilizing various multimedia tools.

The goal for this session is to introduce or reinforce the concept that the more actively engaged learners are in the online learning environment, the more successfully they understand and retain content and information.  We will discuss how to achieve this, utilizing group discussion and poll based multimedia tools with a focus on the idea that with well designed tools and appropriately planned activities, even assignments that tend to garner resistance can produce learner success. We’ll pull these ideas together by incorporating replicable assignments and activities into the session, and showing “real case” course scenarios and assignments that are being used at NC State University.

As participants are entering the session, they will be presented with a poll question, via Padlet, focused on how to get an audience engaged.  At the beginning of the session, we will ask participants to discuss their familiarity with, and use of, web conferencing tools.  These two beginning activities will lay the groundwork for introducing the concepts of effectively engaging an audience.

This session will be broken up into three main parts: 1) cognitive strategies and presentation tips, 2) online engagement and facilitation strategies, and 3) multimedia tools.  We will delve deeper into these sections during the session, as well as provide a number of examples for each.  For instance, one of the most widely used online engagement tools is the (sometimes dreaded) discussion board.  Many students do not enjoy reading or posting to a forum, but when done correctly, a discussion board can be quite engaging.  We will share how various instructors at NC State University are using discussion forums as a springboard for communication in their classes, along with a few tips on how to make sure students are finding value in (and maybe even enjoying) discussion boards.

After we discuss these strategies and tools, we will invite the audience to participate in a think/pair/share activity, in which they will reflect individually on their current courses or projects and consider how they might incorporate at least one strategy, share their thoughts with a partner, and then volunteer to share their ideas with the whole group.  After the session, we will share the presentation and takeaways with all attendees.



Kahu, E. R. (2013). Framing student engagement in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(5), 758-773. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2011.598505