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How to Improve Student Engagement with Technology in K-12 Education

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

How to improve student engagement with technology in K12 education

Technology has greatly revolutionized the world of education, and many developments have been made inside and outside the classroom setting to improve student engagement. During the pandemic, educators and students experienced how important and beneficial it is to incorporate technology in a course curriculum and not just in the ways you’d expect. Technology has become a cornerstone of both good and bad student engagement techniques. Frankly, we all know that the convergence of online learning and face-to-face learning is unavoidable at this point, and we aim to help you understand how to best leverage technology to create the most engaged classroom no matter what your modality technically is.

As we see the rigor and quality of education skewing towards more technology inclusion in the classroom, we also see that instructors and educators are going to be the most proactive players in the redesigning of the educational space.

In the interest of the future of education, a healthy dose of synchronous face-to-face interactions as well as asynchronous online interactions will pose positive outcomes for instructors and students alike. In fact, it’s not a question of “if” online learning styles will be implemented, it’s a question of “how.”

With all the online resources currently available in the ever-changing landscape of education, it would be a waste to not take advantage of them to drive student engagement.

What we Know About Blended Learning in the Future

We are in an age where collaboration, content sharing, and resources are all shared digitally. The use of technology has become an increasingly important component of K-12 education. There has been an increase in the use of internet-based content and resources, as well as knowledge delivery, in course curriculums with 63% of K-12 teachers reporting to have used technology in the classroom every day according to a study by the University of Phoenix College of Education.

Although blended learning has been slower to develop on the K-12 level (in comparison to the higher education setting), changes due to the pandemic suggest that a large part of the future of education will involve providing instruction digitally in tandem with face-to-face instruction.

Blended learning combines the best elements of online and in-person education, therefore, it will likely be the predominant option for students and faculty in the future of educational approaches. Sharing content virtually gives the ability to provide enriching content outside the classroom and extend learning beyond physical classroom walls.

It is also important to mention that students will likely enjoy this new modality of learning. At this point, it is unlikely that students will want to continue learning solely based on textbooks read in the classroom in 50-minute increments, and in the K-12 education setting, students often don’t have the opportunity to opt for fully distanced learning.

Also, student’s who are in K-12 now grew up with technology, so doing things digitally is second nature to them. Optimizing technology in the classroom can teach students important skills like time management and autonomy because the blended approach requires a greater level of self-learning. Although younger generations are already familiar with seeking information online, by including technology in the classroom, teachers can smooth K12 students’ transitions to higher levels of education, where this skill is necessary.

Learn 4 Student Engagement Strategies For Using Technology In a K-12 Classroom

Student engagement is important in the learning journey. Here are some ways to engage students in a K-12 classroom.

1. Integrate Gamified Learning

Quizlet? Kahoot? Cool Math Games? These are all platforms that provide forms of gameful learning for students. One of the best ways to increase a student's willingness to engage is through gameful learning. This type of model actively motivates students to participate in classroom discussions, activities, and lessons. Let’s look to Yellowdig’s platform as an example.

Yellowdig has a point system feature, as well as a feature that allows instructors to pass out accolades as awards for good participation. Similar to playing a video game, obtaining points on the platform can help students feel accomplished, which increases activity within the learning community. In Yellowdig, as students receive emoji reactions and comments from other students, they also earn points. These social points are our secret sauce that drive student desire to create content that their peers will want to interact with, thus encouraging high-quality, interesting content creation. By incorporating these types of features, students feel incentivized to learn and participate in the classroom, instead of just passively listening to a lesson.

Learn how our Second Principle of "Abandon the Post once, Comment Twice mindset," which is powered by our gameful points system, enables genuine student participation.

2. Incorporate Active Learning

Not all learning is active learning. Students taking notes in a class during a direct lecture from a teacher may seem like they’re actively participating by taking notes, but are they actually engaged with the classroom material? Or are they more focused on scribbling every word down from the lesson? Likely the latter. Rather than evaluating, analyzing, and understanding exactly what the material means, they are engaged with the lecture, but not the actual materials delivered in the lecture.

Active learning may seem easier to maintain in smaller-sized classrooms, but as Arizona State University points out, technology can allow for active learning in large-enrollment face-to-face courses, hybrid courses, and online courses. For example, Yellowdig is a technology that allows students, and even instructors, to carry out genuine conversations with each other. This opens up many opportunities for students to learn from each other while also feeling connected. Bringing the discussion online, and promoting the “learning by doing” mentality, can help students actively explore and analyze course material with their peers, making learning more fun and more engaging — all while increasing student retention.

Being sure to involve students in their learning is critical. For example, instead of just telling students about a topic, take a quick poll in Yellowdig or on Slido to see what the students think the answer is. Having their guess confirmed or disproved will help them remember what you’re teaching and actually want to know the answer.

Learn how Padua Academy and Beijing National Day School used Yellowdig as a way to actively engage their high school students in our E-Book called "Connect like Never Before."

3. Continue The Lesson Outside The Classroom With Technology

Hybrid and blended learning are modalities that are both gaining momentum in the education sphere. We’ve seen the impact of technology throughout the pandemic, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Technology is a great way to continue learning even outside of classroom walls. By allowing students to continue learning outside of the classroom, they get the opportunity to practice thinning and deliberating course material on their own. Engaging students in learning outside the classroom improves their autonomy, and allows them to take ownership of what they are learning.

One really effective way to incorporate learning outside of the classroom is to have students share examples of what they’re learning in class in their everyday lives. For example, in a high school biology class you could have students who are learning about plant types go into their backyards and take pictures. You can use an online engagement tool like Yellowdig to share their findings with the class and even work together to identify the pretty purple vine growing in a student's garden.

There are lots of ways to keep the learning going outside of the classroom, from having students collaborate on math assignments online to having anxious students practice presenting by recording videos. Embracing the opportunity to go beyond the workbook homework assignment can not only help students learn because they’re more engaged, but also increase their satisfaction.

4. Tech? What Tech?

Yes, technology. It exists. But which technology works best for you? Whether you’re trying to target material organization, class engagement, or both, there are a plethora of solutions out there. For example, at Yellowdig, our goal is to promote valuable student engagement in online learning and face-to-face learning through meaningful and deep discussions driven by gameful learning. In the case of K-12 education, many students have grown up around technology, so it is important to incorporate an efficient and intuitive platform for students to have fun by learning together.

Be thoughtful about your use of tech in your classroom. If you take nothing away from this article besides this sentence, we have succeeded. Simply deciding to use an LMS, hosting Zoom meetings, or using a discussion board, will not inherently improve your student’s success. Be sure to read-up on the pedagogy behind the platforms you adopt, so that you’re getting the most out of your EdTech.

Even class by class your technique may need to differ based on their personalities. For example, in Yellowdig we’ve heard from instructors that when they’re teaching two sections of the same class, the culture of their Communities can vary greatly. Some students will respond better to receiving accolades and reactions to acknowledge their presence, while others may need a bit more hand-holding and maybe want to see your face in recorded video responses sometimes.

Software Tools Are You Friend

Technology has been changing in the education system. From what used to be purely instructor-centered tools, we now have educational software that allows students to take the reins as well. Different types of software were developed to assist in managing this new landscape of learning, and for instructors, taking advantage of these resources can greatly impact the teaching experience, as well as the learning experience of students. An engaged student is often a happy student. EdTech is a resource, and it would be highly beneficial to incorporate new technology into the classroom to make way for modern student engagement.


Let us know if you’re interested in a demo of Yellowdig, we’d be happy to show you how our Communities drive student engagement.

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