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How to Keep Student Engagement High on an Infrequent Class Schedule

2018 NEXT Conference: New Explorations in Teaching with Technology



Transcribed from a presentation by Claudia J. Coleman, PhD
in February 2018, at the NEXT Conference

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“So, why are segues and icebreakers important? Well, they may not be unless you care about building stronger relationships with and among your students. 


As an uninterrupted transition from one process or place to another, segues can be the bridge to more effective interaction. 


Due to the infrequency of class meetings, once a week, I was looking for a way to keep students engaged from one meeting date to another.  


I found that posting short videos and articles and launching polls keeps students engaged and actively involved in the course during the times we aren’t together.  


Although students use the discussion feature of Yellowdig, they are excited when they get to class to discuss the results of the polls they participate in.  


My posts have included videos about women’s rights, featuring Malala Yousafzai, to one on why we have too few women leaders by Sheryl Sandberg (chief operating officer at Facebook).   Students are encouraged to comment.


A favorite and unique feature of Yellowdig is that it issues points to students when they posts, and tracks them throughout the course.  Points are used to boost grades.  


Polls usually focus on a hot topic in the news: the two latest polls were on gun control and a proposal to drop ship food in boxes to reduce the cost of SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).


So, how do I use Yellowdig as an ice breaker? Many students in my class don’t know each other.  Yellowdig is a great way for students to introduce themselves. When students introduce themselves in class, they are so focused on what they will say, that they aren’t listening to others.  In addition, students are inclined to share more information about themselves in written form, than verbally. Yellowdig also allows them to post photos of themselves, family members and their favorite pet. You get a much better sense about a student when you read their personal introduction versus hearing it. Plus you can review the information anytime during the semester, which benefits me.  


Once the ice has broken, students become more involved. Once students post their thoughts about an issue, they are more likely to reiterate them in class.


When posting on Yellowdig, students typically support their comments by attaching articles, videos and photos.


Students learning from each other takes on another dimension. The feeling of isolation and anonymity is reduced and a shared sense of purpose and community develops.  


For me, the tool to create segues and icebreakers is Yellowdig.”

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