Learner Engagement Techniques

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

What is student engagement?  What does student engagement look like in online activities?  This session will explore the answers to these questions through a variety of activities including conversation, games, and design thinking exercises.  Whether you are limited to tools in your LMS or you enjoy exploring new tools and technologies this session will leave you with ideas and inspiration that will hook your students.


Veronica Armour is an educator and learning designer interested in the interdisciplinary connections between people, knowledge, and information, human centered design, and innovation that inform face-to-face and digital environments for 21st century learning. She is an instructional designer in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University where she also teaches part-time for the Information Technology and Informatics program.  Her current work involves designing the student experience for the Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurship Academy at Rutgers University. She is also exploring the potential of the design thinking process and mindset to interrupt cognitive bias and develop new models for equity in learning experience design. Her research questions include the interconnectedness of design thinking, entrepreneurship, and 21st century skills. She has served on the Executive Board of the Emerging Learning Design organization and is currently involved with the NJ Makers community.  She has experience with developing online courses, workshops, and events related to teaching and learning with technology, active learning, and maker activities.  She is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops at the local and national level.  As Raspberry Pi Certified Educator she enjoys tinkering with technology and hosting workshops to inspire interest in STEM activities.

Extended Abstract

Central to course development are the selection of tools and techniques to best engage learners with each other, the content, and the instructor.  While classic in-person active learning techniques such as discussions and peer review are also applicable to online learning, over reliance and lack of proper application in the digital environment can cause these activities to fall flat when converted to an online format if they are not structured properly.  Also, new technologies both within and outside of the LMS offer faculty and instructional designers an infinite combination of tools and techniques for fostering learner engagement that can make it difficult to know where to start, which to focus on, or to distinguish between fad and fantastic. 

This session will provide participants the opportunity to identify, categorize, and discuss LMS specific tools as well as what can be found on the web and how to pair them with active learning activities and techniques in order to build an epic, interactive course.

The session will be made up of three parts.

Part I: Introduction to Learner Engagement

During the first part as a group we will establish common knowledge in order to enable participation by both those new to the topic and with those with more experience so that we can discuss the following questions:

  • What is learner engagement?
  • What are types of learner engagement?
  • What does student engagement look like in online activities?  How does it differ from in-person activities?

Part II: Learner Engagement Tools & Techniques Meta Game

During the second part of the session we will play a remixed version of the Metagame using Learning Battle Cards.  “The Metagame is a ‘creative judgement’ game” (metaga.me) similar to and the inspiration of Cards Against Humanity (metaga.me.)  Central to the game are the “Opinion Cards” which provide questions or statements of comparison which players must then use the category cards to answer and debate.  Opinion cards will be adapted from the original Metagame and the CU Online Card Game, an edtech version based on the original Metagame.  Learning Battle Cards, a compilation of 100+ techniques and activities for learner engagement, will be used for the category cards for this Metagame remix.  Additional category cards will be created that represent LMS specific (Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle) tools to accommodate participants that are required by their universities to use only LMS tools and apps for online course.  Participants will match, debate, and discuss a variety of learning activities and technologies through conversation around questions such as, but not limited to:

  • Which make teaching easier?  Which make learning easier?
  • Which are more educationally relevant?
  • Which ones should all faculty or instructional designers learn about and get better at?
  • Which have the most innovative potential?

Part III: Design Thinking for Learner Engagement

Using methods from Stanford University’s d.School Bootcamp Bootleg groups of attendees will brainstorm ways to reinvigorate learner engagement through the use of classic techniques with new tools and vice versa.  Two design thinking methods will be offered to participants to work from in small groups.  The first method is “How Might We (HMW) Questioning.”  Scenarios for small class, large enrollment, and case-based courses will be provided to facilitate the HMW questioning.  The second method is “Prototype to Test” where participants will design and draft activities that can then be brought back to their current courses to be tested for regular inclusion in course offerings.