Engagement binds everything!

I have been reading a lot of books on classroom assessment and evaluation lately.

When it comes to informal assessment techniques, it is utterly shocking how many resemble student engagement techniques. In many cases, they are the exact same technique. One minute papers, exit cards, think-pair-share are just a few techniques that are both good for assessment and engagement.

I guess this begs the question–what came first? I think it’s engagement. Engagement binds all facets of the learning process. If you don’t have engagement, it is hard to have motivated learners. And it’s hard to have motivated learners if they cannot see the value in learning or their progress. Without assessment, you have learning in the blind. Without progress, it’s hard to have direction. And without direction, it is hard to improve.

Engagement is at the centre of learning. As educators we need to be committed to engagement. But engagement also asks the learner to put themselves at the centre of their learning. We can help them get there, but at the end of the day, only the learner can take the necessary steps to be engaged.

To be committed to learner centric engagement, it’s not enough to only address the way we teach things or the content we select. It also means we need to include learners in the assessment process. This is probably why many assessment techniques resemble engagement techniques.

E-learning and Engagement

As you’ve probably guessed from previous blogs, I am a huge fan of technology and e-learning. I was born right at the intersection of Gen X and Millennial generations, so I’ve spent most of my adult life immersed in technology. I also work in technology, so it’s ingrained in most things I do.

This means that when it comes to being an educator I’m always looking for ways to incorporate technology. When it comes to education, I also think face time is declining. There are so many factors that make face time difficult. For an example, in my company, our employees are spread across different timezones and locations, so it can be difficult to facilitate anything synchronously. This has led me to bridge more into e-learning development.

I think my predisposal to e-learning may have gone a little crazy. While I’m always thinking ‘is this an interactive project?’ when creating content, I have forgotten some of the basics of teaching–the why and motivation. Sure my content is pretty and interactive, but what ensures learners actually engage with the material? This is a drawback with e-learning.

While I have an LMS that I can track adherence to assignments, I need to spend more time showing learners the value of learning. There’s nothing wrong with the content I’m creating–it is fabulous! But I need to contextualize and vary the methodoly.

I think it can be easy to get lost in the technology. Technology is not bad. It is and will continue to become an important part of our lives. However, we can’t lose sight of the basics. Teaching is more than content creation.