Busy college professors know how much time and effort designing a course with engaging, accurate, and specialized learning materials requires—especially on top of other responsibilities like lesson planning, grading, and research. Working with a team of Skyepack’s skilled instructional designers helps boost your bandwidth and complete your tasks efficiently. For example, Skyepack will create a fully customized package of digital course materials that pulls from textbooks, open educational resources, and your own lectures, including only the content that is relevant to the course.
Using these streamlined course materials is a key part of making your class more engaging as students won’t have to parse through irrelevant content in expensive textbooks to find what they need. But, there are other aspects of the classroom experience that Skyepack optimizes to help you and your students get more out of the course. We’ll explore the features you can use to facilitate content absorption, increase student participation, and boost your class average:
- Add graded assignments.
- Make content your own.
- Implement polling and in-class surveys.
Keep in mind that your students lead busy lives too, often balancing their studies with work and life obligations. To motivate them to complete important readings and study for your course, it’s important to add incentives for completing these assignments. Let’s begin by walking through how you can increase participation by using Skyepack to give students credits for finishing these tasks before reviewing the importance of interactive class content.
Add graded assignments
Reading over course materials and studying for upcoming tests and quizzes is essential to performing well in any course. This work outside of class can help students fill in the gaps from in-class lectures and spend more time on nuanced concepts. But because these assignments rarely involve any written work, students might feel discouraged without receiving any credit for the hours spent reading and studying.
Luckily, Skyepack has a way for you to add graded elements into reading assignments to both give your students credit for completing them and track their participation. Here are two ways to add these graded elements:
- Practice questions. Practice questions should be a more informal, low-risk graded assignment. Add a few practice questions throughout chapters of reading or as knowledge checks after introducing a new concept in class. Because these are practice questions, consider grading them based on participation rather than accuracy so learners aren’t penalized for not mastering content right away.
- Quizzes. Quizzes can serve as a more formalized assignment that gauges how well students grasp the content they learn during self-guided study. It’s best to place these quizzes at the end of chapters—just make sure not to include too many quizzes to avoid burning students out. Explain to students that these quizzes will be graded based on accuracy so they have plenty of time to study the content and perform well.
Skyepack has a built-in grade book that you can use to quickly and conveniently check in on students’ grades for these assignments. Not only can you reference and record their grades without needing to transfer them to your school’s learning management system, but you can also view participation at a glance to see who completed reading assignments.
Make content your own
Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to motivate student learning is to establish the course content’s relevance. This means adding details or context to course content that relates to your students’ everyday lives. More relatable content not only piques your students’ interest—it can also be more memorable because it ties directly to their lived experience.
Here are a few easy ways you can make content relevant to students:
- Hyperlocalize examples. Write specific examples that both engage the concept in your course and incorporate local places and businesses that students are familiar with. For instance, instead of giving an example of how Apple designed a successful marketing campaign, create an example using the same concept for a local restaurant. It’s easiest to incorporate these examples into materials like open educational resources that you can trim, edit, and add to as much as you like.
- Reference current events. Your students are likely tuned into news updates, global conflicts, and pop culture. Look for opportunities to tie the current events that they hear about every day into your class. If you teach a political science course, you could reference recent elections and their candidates and illustrate how the concepts students learn in class apply to those scenarios.
- Focus on topics they are interested in. Most people feel more motivated and inspired to learn about the topics that they have a natural interest in. While you won’t be able to teach about European history in a biology class, you can spend more time on the subjects in your field that students are drawn to. Consider creating a list of various topics and ask students to weigh in on which topics they’d like to learn more about.
You can also make in-class assignments relevant to your students and their futures. Reach out to relevant local businesses and ask them which skills they look for in job candidates. Then, you can incorporate those skills into microcredential courses that students complete during your class to build their marketable skills and prepare them for future interviews.
Implement polling and in-class surveys
Using digital polls and surveys in class is a recent instructional design trend that you can use for a variety of educational purposes. For instance, you might use polling as a knowledge check after giving an in-class lecture to get an idea of how well students understand the content.
Another way to use polls in class is to gather student feedback. Ask students about what they like and dislike about the class, how confident they feel about an upcoming test or project, and anything else you’d like their input on. Once you have this feedback, you can use it to plan lessons and employ teaching strategies that will work best for the students in your class. With regular polls and surveys, you can gather enough feedback to revamp the course structure to benefit future students.
Choosing your course materials is one of the most important steps in creating an engaging learning environment for students. Skyepack makes it simple for you to encourage and track active participation in all parts of your course, from homework to in-class activities.