Is There Anybody Out There?: Digital Tools to Engage Your Students

Concurrent Session 7

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Are you challenged to create engaging strategies and locate tools to capture students’ attention?  
Our session will highlight faculty examples of learning activities using various tools to promote student engagement, prioritizing learner-learner, learner-content, and learner-instructor interactions. Please join our Padlet Example Board to participate in our pre-workshop discussion and share your ideas.


Jann is passionate about the best practices and applications of educational technologies for teaching and learning. At the University of North Florida she works with faculty to prepare courses for Quality Matters review, supports the Open Educational Resources initiative, and loves to support instructors as they learn to apply curriculum design and educational technology. From 2018-2023 Jann supported the UNF initiative for the Teaching Online Foundation course which is UNF's first step in the faculty development process. In 2017 she earned her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership focusing on Curriculum and Technology. Her most recent undertaking is supporting instructors with the design and development of STEM+C courses for Project InTERSECT.

Extended Abstract

Are you challenged to find engaging activities and tools to capture students’ attention?  This session provides an introduction to digital tools which promote student engagement with pedagogical examples from our institution. We will outline strategies for implementing learning activities that prioritize learner-learner, learner-content, and learner-instructor interactions. Canvas LMS tools as well as external tools (e.g., VoiceThread, Flip, Padlet, Discord,  Perusall, Quizlet, and more) will be highlighted. Most of the tools we will showcase are free and widely available with easy access points for most novice users. Two experienced instructional designers will discuss the challenges instructors face to create an online educational community which moves beyond the text-based discussion board. Each tool showcased will connect with a specific learning activity used by faculty to increase student engagement in their course. 

Gaining students’ attention and creating engagement activities are critical elements needed for student learning and retention (Newmann, et al., 1992). Historically, our LMS platforms have provided opportunities to share documents and to utilize a modest, text-based discussion board. For several years the discussion board was the center of student engagement experience in the online educational environment with its interface locked in time. As social media technologies have advanced the standard LMS discussion board has fallen out of favor with students and faculty alike (deLima, et al., 2019). 

This workshop will review several instructors’ assignment examples and how they harnessed digital tools to engage students. These examples will be presented using Moore’s (1989) educational interaction framework that encompasses three components: learner-content, learner-teacher, learner-learner. Participants will have the opportunity to see the assignment instructions and how the tool was utilized to achieve the faculty member’s course objectives.

During the presentation we will also engage with the participants via several of the tools mentioned. . For instance, for a pre-engagement activity participants will be able to share the tools they already use in a Padlet, a visual media board. During the session participants will be organized into convenient groups based on their seating. Each group will be given a link to a shared Google Sheet where they will be provided group time to curate additional examples in each of the categories we highlight (learner to learner, learner to instructor, learner to content). After the session the workshop leaders will collate all of the ideas into one document for the participants to review at their home institution.

Our goal in conducting this session is to share how our instructors are engaging students, to learn from our participants’ experiences, and to share the results of discussion. 


Bernard, R., Abrami, P., Borokhovski, E., Wade, C., Tamim, Rl, Surkes, M., & Bethel, E. (2009). A meta-analysis of three types of interaction treatments in distance education. Review of Educational Research, 79(3), 1243-1289.

Czerkawski, B.C., Lyman, E.W. (2016). An instructional design framework for fostering student engagement in online learning environments. TechTrends 60, 532–539.

de Lima, D.P.R., Gerosa, M.A., Conte, T.U. et al. (2019). What to expect, and how to improve online discussion forums: the instructors’ perspective. Journal of Internet Services and Applications 10, 22.

Hu, M., & Li, H. (2017).  Student engagement in online learning: A review," 2017 International Symposium on Educational Technology, pp. 39-43, doi: 10.1109/ISET.2017.17.

Moore, M. (1989). Editorial: Three types of interaction. The American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 1-7.

Newman, F., Wehlage, G., & Lamborn, S. (1992). The significance and sources of student engagement. In Fred Newmann (Ed.), Student engagement and achievement in American secondary schools. (pp. 11-39). New York: Teachers College Press.