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Edtech Can Help Encourage Student Participation

Classroom Personalities Vary

No matter what kind of classroom you step into, you can always be sure that you will find an array of student personalities. Quiet or loud, energetic or reserved, confident or shy, and within that, different levels of student participation.

Participation is a great way to see how students are engaging with material. It shows critical thinking and deeper learning when they respond with their own thoughts about the content.

However, an issue that sometimes arises with lots of different personalities types in one room is that quieter students get drowned out. These are students that could be:

  • introverted,
  • unsure of their answer,
  • lacking confidence,
  • nervous about how their answer will be received,
  • anxious to speak up,
  • or still learning the language.

Whatever the reason is, it’s important that these students don’t get left behind and that they have the same opportunities to share their ideas much like their more forward classmates.

Technology Can Help Level the Playing Field

Without technology in the classroom student participation relies on a students to contribute during classroom discussions. When a student faces some of the issues mentioned before, it can be very difficult to know and monitor quiet students understanding of the content, as they tend not to participate. However, educational technology can help make the process of participating for quieter students much easier than it was before.

Parlay works to make sure that all students have a voice and are able to speak their mind. Teachers are able to use the program to encourage students and support them with different points systems and feedback. As well, the program allows students to converse with one another, taking the focus off of individual students and putting it on the conversation as a whole.

Here are some other ways that you can encourage student participation using tech:

Digital Citizenship Prep

Before you even having discussions in your classroom, get your students comfortable with online conversations by taking them through what it means to be a digital citizen. When all of the students are aware of the rules of digital citizenship, it will create an environment where all students feel comfortable contributing to the conversation.

The “warm up”

Remind students to take their time and observe the conversation until they feel comfortable participating. This way they can get used to their classmates responses and get a better grasp on the topic of conversation. Once they feel comfortable, or have something to contribute they will feel welcome and ready to participate in the class conversation.

Take notes

Taking notes gets students actively following the conversation. Even if they aren’t participating by putting up their hand, or commenting on their peers contributions, they are able to absorb the discussion in their own way. They can review their notes in the future and turn them into a short reflective paragraphs, showing that they were actively listening to the conversation and that they were able to critically engage with the content, even if it was at a later date.

Give feedback, points or a nudge

The Parlay program allows you to give feedback to your students. This includes written feedback through comments or marks for skills that you choose (for example, critical thinking) to support any and all student contributions to the discussion. This will encourage students, making them feel supported and heard.

Points allow you to acknowledge when a student has made a great contribution, which will encourage them to do more of it in the future. As well, after discussions, you can leave students feedback, letting them know they did great but you’d like to hear more from them. Students receiving this friendly feedback will feel encouraged to keep at it.

Parlay’s ‘Nudge’ also allows teachers to send students who are quiet or who seem disengaged a private notification that encourages the student to consider participating or get them back on track with the discussion.

Review of technology in Classroom Discussions

There are lots of awesome things that tech can do for the classroom environment, especially when used to encourage student participation during important discussions about course content, or even open conversations where students are welcome to share opinions.

Whatever it is, student participation is an incredibly important part of a their understanding of the content that you are teaching them. It encourages students to think critically, problem solve and more deeply interact with class discussions and content. But having classroom discussions shouldn’t mean that quieter students are left out of the conversation.

When you include edtech into the classroom you make it possible for all of your students to have the opportunity to participate even if they aren’t comfortable speaking out loud in front of the class. Giving all of your students the tools they need to participate.

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