Investing In Futuristic Inventions For Greater Student Engagement

Dr. Somnath Patil, Secretary, Dr. D Y Patil Vidyapeeth Society And Dr. D Y Patil Unitech Society, Pune Dr. Somnath Patil joined D.Y. Patil umbrella in April 2008 after completing his business management course. In his stint in India, he is trying his best to inculcate this Western pattern of education at D. Y. Patil institutes. In the years to come, Dr. Somnath Patil looks forward to empowering students and he believes students should be proud of passing out from a D.Y. Patil institutes.

Students can learn and retain academic concepts better only if they are engaged effectively in the classrooms. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect students to give their 100 percent attention when the ways lessons are taught do not invoke any kind of interest or curiosity in the class. The onus of student engagement lies mainly on the shoulders of educators.

Until a decade ago, it would have been challenging for colleges and universities to implement innovative models of student engagement because there was limited or rather negligible availability of resources. All that educators could rely on were the good old textbooks and other printed materials to teach, along with written and oral examinations to evaluate the performance of students. While this pedagogy methodology is still very much prevalent, it is now being viewed as outdated and rote learning oriented, thus resulting in poor student engagement.

The need for the hour is to embrace innovative pedagogy strategies that will not only boost student engagement but will also bring a paradigm shift in the existing education culture. Fortunately, smart technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics are now making it possible to rethink education to create meaningful, engaging and effective experiences for students.

Here are some futuristic inventions that educators can incorporate in pedagogy to increase student engagement:
Digital Classroom Tools
Today’s students thrive on technology because it brings the world on their fingertips. Educators can leverage technology in terms of making classrooms equipped with laptops/computers, projectors, interactive whiteboards, and Wi-Fi connections. Students can also be allowed to bring their own mobile devices or laptops in the classrooms. The idea here is to blend traditional learning with digital learning. Apart from imparting education via textbooks, educators can make Power Point presentations, stream live/recorded videos, or teach students directly from any online resource that can be accessed on computers/smartphones/mobile apps. This way, learning becomes more interesting for students, thereby increasing their attention span.
Videos as a Learning Medium
Videos are a highly effective engagement tool that can be leveraged in several different ways other than delivering course content. For instance, educators can en¬courage students to create their own video presentations and have students recap the learning of the day in a 10 sec video. Educators can also upload video tutorials online on the institute’s website, social media handles, or learning management system portal for students to view them anywhere, anytime. Video tutorials can not only make up for missed classes but also enable students to view them repeatedly and understand the concepts at their own learning pace.

The need for the hour is to embrace innovative pedagogy strategies that will not only boost student engagement but will also bring a paradigm shift in the existing education culture

Podcasts serve similar purposes and benefits as the videos, the only difference being that they engage students in audio format. Professors can easily audio record their lectures in the classroom and later make them available online.

Video Surveillance
Video surveillance is largely associated with security and monitoring of any inappropriate activity. But, in terms of futuristic inventions for greater student engagement, video surveillance can be a useful tool for educators to understand classroom behavior faculty student interactions, and what teaching methods hold the longer interest of students.

QR Codes
QR codes are gaining immense popularity in the business world. But, soon, QR codes are touted to become a reality in education too. Students can use QR codes to check answers/self assessment of question papers, get links to online study resources recommended by instructors, and finish level based projects (earlier you finish, earlier you can go to the next level of activity). There is no limit to finding educational uses to QR codes and engage students creatively.

Gamification refers to the use of game designs and principles such as rewards, badges, scoreboards, and competition in an informal environment to bring a favorable change in behavior and learning. When put in the context of education, gamification converts lesson plans into level based assignments for which students can earn points, rewards, or credits after every level of completion. Gamification not only makes education fun for students but also enables them to set their own learning goals, learn at their own pace, and track their learning progress/outcomes on their own.

Classroom Design
This may sound surprising, but the physical landscape of the classroom can play a crucial role in student engagement. The tables and chairs should be light weight, move able and modifiable so that they can be easily aligned to suit the goals of instruction or conduct group activities. In fact, classrooms should have a flexible, open plan layout that allows students to create, explore, and experiment instead of staying ‘boxed in’ at one place that leads to boredom.

Robo Teachers
Robo teachers are still an emerging concept in higher education. By no means, they will replace human teachers, but they will definitely provide the kind of support that both educators and students need. For instance, robo teachers can shoulder administrative and repetitive workload, automate common student queries, deliver educational content in the learner’s preferred language, and administer tests/exams. They will help educators to focus more on student engagement activities.

The above mentioned futuristic inventions will ensure that learning is participative and collaborative for greater student engagement. It’s about time that educational institutes start taking necessary monetary measures and insights from industry experts to make this possible.