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To develop a toolkit for lecturers who want to make the most of blended learning

Engagement Strategies Overview

Here are some questions to get the lecturer thinking about the course and blended learning

How does the blended learning context influence this?

There are questions for the lecturer such as “What does blended learning mean for this course?”

What do the lecturers want to change?

How can the lecturer engage students using the mode that provides clear advantages for students and staff?

Some tools for helping the lecturer plan blended learning

  • Lesson plan (Littlejohn and Pegler 2009)
  • Pattern
  • Learning design sequence

Getting Students Engaged


Grab attention (Curiosity Relevance)

Remove technical obstacles (access, ease of use)

Address student obstacles (procrastination, lack of time, anxiety)

Social presence (teacher immediacy and enthusiasm, student feels part of the community and part of the discipline)

Grab Attention:

Transition session: pre-start of formal classes. Class meet and engage in fun activity related to the subject in teams. The aim is to reduce isolation, establish prior experience, and make students feel part of the discipline.

Remove technical obstacles

  • Access checklist
  • Ease of use – checklist
  • Think about in this relation to classroom

Address student obstacles


  • Have a small assignment due early in course

Time poorness:

  • management tools/strategies
  • timetable
  • goal setting


  • Advice sheet: affirmations,
  • Organisational tools
  • Opportunities for review

Social presence

Teacher immediacy:

  • Early introductory announcement from teacher (online) welcoming students and introducing self.
  • Set office hours when available to students without appointment
  • Contact details easy to find, include photo.
  • Rapid response to student queries (ideally within 24 hours)
  • Surveillance
  • Visible teacher participation.

Part of the Class

  • Establish teams/cohorts (give teams names?): NOT for assignments but for learning activities. Trust building. (eg. each person works through the activity on their own then explains their answer to the group. Group comes to consensus about the ‘best’ answer).

Part of the discipline

  • Workshops
  • Practical activities

Can we enable students to personalize/ customise their online learning environment in some way? Eg when I registered on UKTVFood it gave me my own recipe book and I can grab one of their recipes and put it in my book – easier to access than their 000’s. I was thinking of things like a notepad, where they could jot ideas or copy sections from study material, a study timetable they could use for planning, photos of themselves?? A brag book of their assignments or parts thereof. Maybe this could be shared with invited students?

What about using some of the web2 tools and linking to them – eg Utube, facebook a class twitter site????

This sounds like an eportfolio

There could also be ice breakers such as MCQs to diagnose learning style

Maintaining Engagement


  • teacher feedback is personal, timely quality
  • other student feedback is personal, offers of help
  • self, realistic, motivating

Feedback Teacher:

  • Marking rubrics
  • Quality feedback - guidelines
  • Specific return times for assignments - recommendations
  • Regular announcements from teacher: what’s coming up, where they should be, reminders

Student feedback:

  • advice
  • offers of help

Self feed-back:

  • self-monitoring tools - student tracks activities and progress online eg sets own goals, how much effort, time, success, maybe *teacher or system can suggest ideas for improvement?)
  • teach them how to self monitor.

Learning Activities:

  • materials, challenging, authentic, interactive
  • seen as practical and useful

Learning Activities

  • online quizzes
  • crosswords
  • Problem solving
  • Challenging – what makes an assignment/task challenging
  • Related to real world.
  • Interesting

Guidelines for virtual guests

Guests speakers are often used in courses to help students engage with realistic problems and to help them identify how the theory they are learning can apply to real world situations. Virtual guests are experts who interact with students without being physically present in the classroom. The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic case study provides guidance on virtual guests.

Recommendations for how to prepare virtual guests for their interaction with students, including a stock take of readily available recommendations is available. This includes online discussion guidelines, emails inviting participation and guidelines on both room basedand web based video conferencing.

The Educational Technologies tool provides information with a useful list of tools that can be used in teaching such as discussion forums, videoconferencing, podcasting and many more.

Those who use Moodle may want to consider the Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers

Designing and Planning online discussions provides information on the benefits of using online discussion forums and how they can be used. Facilitating online discussions provides information on how to effectively facilitate online discussions and includes tips for moderating discussion forums, effective forum practices and how to best use the faciliatation tools.

Allan 2007 provides some example learning activities with characteristics, reasons for use, pros and cons and applications. The activities are case studies, debates, demonstrations, discussion groups, exercises, ice breakers, problem based learning, project groups, quizzes, reflective practice, role play, simulations, team-building activities, virtual visitor or guest speaker, visits and work based projects.


  • clearly structured
  • unambiguous instructions and guidance
  • follows the schedule (lectures)


  • Tools for designing lessons, structuring courses
  • Rules/guidance for writing instructions
  • Advice on making changes to courses after they’ve started

Leaner control

  • self paced

Failed to engage or re-engaging

Overview of failed to engage or re-engaging

Personal contact


Support: learning, social, personal

Negotiated study

Personal contact

  • Strategies for early detection – what are the crunch points
  • Email from staff or tutor asking if there is any particular problem and offering help and or appropriate support.


  • Direct student to other support staff – need a list and contact details of all such people in the organization – have this on the website

Negotiated study

  • Make allowances could be made to help students get back on board eg extensions.
  • Personalized requirements