Enhance student participation by using innovative, online resources and teaching methods in your classroom?

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Student engagement is an important indicator measuring students’ performance and learning process, and largely determines what they have accumulated from their classes overall. It is also one of the most important sources of feedback for teachers reflecting the results of their practice, but also highly relevant for researchers, curriculum designers and policy makers. What drives student participation, why some subjects or activities are more popular among students, how can you combine online resources with innovative teaching methods and what do all the above mean for STEM?

Initially, teachers need to consider factors such as their students age, level, available time and resources in terms of equipment but also very high quality, engaging learning materials. Next, they have the opportunity to reflect and transform their practices by incorporating more hands-on, innovative activities and if needed, adjust according to their students’ needs. Research has shown that students learn better and faster if they are actively involved in the learning process, which inevitably brings us to consider how practices like inquiry-based science education (IBSE) can be applied in class, encouraging students to collaborate, discover research and try to answer their own questions. While inquiry-based learning and collaboration are largely applicable to education in general, they are particularly crucial for STEM education where interdisciplinary learning across STEM subjects and the use of technology provide immense potential for engaging, meaningful and innovative activities. Have a look at the report Teacher Training and IBSE Practice in School, A European Schoolnet Overview in order to learn more about IBSE.

The resources used by teachers and their relevance to new technologies and trends are of major importance in order to gain students’ attention and consequently prompt them to explore and learn. In addition to having robotics and other programmable devices used in classrooms today, we cannot ignore the recent trend of having other type of gadgets like drones in education. The use of drones might sound initially intimidating to teachers who have never experimented with them before, but in the long term are beneficial for the observation, motor and visual skills of students. In addition, they can fit in a wide variety of activities and STEM subjects including programming, mathematics and physics. All the aforementioned might further spark students’ entrepreneurial interest and trigger their curiosity regarding experiments, ideas and the overall application of new technologies in the classroom, and further link entrepreneurship with STEM.

There is a wide variety of high quality educational materials that address teacher trainers, teachers and students giving a first insight of how educators organized and implemented projects about the use of drones in education. One example is the “Drone Technology Training To Boost Eu Entrepreneurship And Industry 4.0 – Edudrone Guidelines For Trainers” by the eduDrone project. The report contains information on the technical aspects but also a detailed overview of the subject, as well as the resource Drone it Yourself! , created by the DroneTeam project. If you are still doubtful about how to introduce this fascinating topic to your students, download the lesson plan created by one of the teacher participants of the STEM is Everywhere! MOOC Drones in our Town??, and adapt it to your students’ needs.

The idea is for teachers to go beyond the norm and encourage their students to try and engage with innovative technologies and activities, but in doing so teachers are also asked to reflect on their teaching and improve, by incorporating new pedagogical methods in their practice. Learning and constant improvement goes both ways and is equally relevant for both students and teachers.

Author: Eleni Myrtsioti, European Schoolnet

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