Engage Through Interaction: Unlock Your Jedi Skills With These Tools

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Whether you are new to creating classroom community or have an established relationship with your students, there are digital tools (free & paid) that you can use that make connecting with your students fun, lively, and may even give insight to other things that interest them.


 Fred Aebli is a Lecturer and IST Program Co-Coordinator (Internships) at the Penn State Scranton Campus in Information Sciences and Technology and is also a Penn State Alum.  His role within IST has been to aid in developing online and resident IST curriculum with emphasis on the applied side of the technologies.  Since Fred Aebli's focus is on the applied side he remains engaged with corporate activities as he develops internet solutions and advises efforts to leverage technology.  His background is a diverse one which stems from a career as a Major in the United States Marine Corps.  From there he continued to develop his career as a consultant for companies such as Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) and Scientech, Inc., an Oracle solution provider for the PPL nuclear plant in Berwick, Pennsylvania.  He is also creator of www.GetMeCoding.com to help homeschooler, teachers, and kids learn how to code.

Extended Abstract

Classroom community building with the goal of creating a sense of belonging for your students can increase learning and put a very positive lens to your classroom.  It also makes teaching more enjoyable.  When students see your enthusiasm, it becomes contagious in the classroom.  Building this type of community experience does not happen without effort but that effort does not have to demand all your time.  Building this community can be a fun activity when you have the right tools and a playful mindset. In this session, you will learn about Polleverywhere.com, Mentimeter.com, and Kahoot.com as the tools I have used to build, engage, and energize my student classroom community while maintaining my own upbeat attitude.  Utilizing these tools and techniques has improved learning and maintained student retention in my online and resident instruction classes.  The talk will weave in comments from students and life examples that helped me stay motivated throughout teaching during the global pandemic.

Exploring these tools and using them with my students triggered my creativity in the classroom.  From polling to trivia to hands on activities, as a college professor of 22 years, I will share how I used these tools with specific techniques to connect with my students and foster community building. You will walk away from this session energized and ready to use what was discussed. It will allow you to engage your students in a whole way you may not have expected.  As a life long fan of Star Wars, I can say, you may even unlock your hidden jedi skills!

NOTE: You do not need any prior experience with these tools as they are easy to learn and fun to use.

The session will initially prompt the attendees with a Polleverywhere.com poll which is a lower end engagement tool that works great with simple text messaging in a world that only focuses on the smart device "app" and asks them a simple question.  We will review the poll results and discuss how to then use them to connect with your students.  This tool is great at introducing the concept of engagement and allows you to take a small step into classroom community building.

The talk then moves to a few points about building these prompts for engagement and then we begin to explore Mentimeter.com which allows for a more robust interaction with your students. Attendees will be provided with a URL and whether on their smartphone or computer notebook they will be prompted to respond to questions and see each other’s comments in a unique graphical way using data visualization.  This type of visualization can then create a teaching moment with conversations that add depth to the student engagement.

Lastly, we walk through my experience with Kahoot as a Kahoot Certified Educator. I will walk through how a Kahoot is built for my online and resident classrooms all throughout the global pandemic. The attendees will then be given an opportunity to play a short Kahoot and see how the quiz can be run synchronously or asynchronously as a weeklong challenge or quick in class experience as individuals or teams.  Before engaging in the Kahoot, I will walk them through how to structure a formative assessment using this tool and introduce them to the resources available in Kahoot.com.  The coverage of Kahoot.com will also illustrate the differences between free and subscription based Kahoot options.  Knowing this will allow for participants to know which model is more suitable for their budget situation.

Levels of Participation

As outlined here, attendees will be highly encouraged to interact with the polls and trivia I present and as such treated as students in a classroom setting.  The topics built into these engagement exercises are broad pop culture with a focus on Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars.  This fun interaction will lift the mystique of these tools so that teachers and trainers can start using them as soon as they return to their learning environments.  Each participant will be provided shared access codes to the various tools so they can interact with this presentation.  As they try each tool, they will get a sense of its interface and how it may fit into their classroom event with light discussion throughout the presentation. Additionally, afterwards, I will provide materials to help guide them through a setup process for each of the three tools covered.

Session Goals:

During the past two years during the global pandemic, I demonstrated some of these tools to fellow educators. As it turns out, even though some have seen these tools they never took the time to try them. Attending this focused session will be the motivation to try these out and take them into the classroom.

3 Goals of This Presentation

  1. Experience three of the top engagement tools available today in a fun way.
  2. Be able to select one tool and start using them to connect with your community. Don't overthink getting started. 
  3. Develop a positive mindset for exploring tools and content creation.