Learner Engagement Strategies

Went to a great GCASTD conference last week! Great speakers, great activities, great breakout sessions, but one problem hung over the conference- how to keep students engaged?

This seems like a universal problem- after 4th grade Americans seem to disengage from learning and school, except for the social fun stuff! Even the teachers often seem turned off! What are some steps we can take to start reengaging students?

At the conference there was a brainstorm session to come up with an innovating learning method. Most groups addressed the concern of engaging students! I will tell you about our group’s genius idea later.

First let’s start from a technical viewpoint and examine some best practices for engaging students. Here is a handy-dandy job aid I made to serve as a focus:


It is the outline of the content of a lecture I just had at school.

You see the three gears; they are what engagement is really made up of! Motivation, both inside the student and from the learning leader. Participation, that doesn’t have to be jumping up and down, but as simple as active listening. And communication, the sharing of ideas.

Everyone in education and training is searching for a tool to do this- the next Facebook-like app that will keep students engaged. Actually, it may be better to look at strategies so we can evaluate and understand the tools that are already available.

The engagement strategies are the green words on the poster- stories, emotional connection, surprise and urgency, curiosity, rewards, collaboration, competition and humor. In blue below are some key points to these strategies.

So what was our genius idea at the conference- I can’t get into details because of copy write stuff. But basically we designed a game like Mission Mapquest to help a logistics company! It sounds really cool, but to work it is based on some of the strategies above. Curiosity to attract attention- what is this learning game? Competition- who will find the answers first? Collaboration- learners will need teamwork to compete! Rewards- points that lead to prizes! Hopefully the designer will through some humor and stories in too.

So it doesn’t just matter what the tool is, how it employs learning and engagement strategies to enhance learning is most important.

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