You can create the most amazing content, and deliver it in the most engaging manner. But if your students are in teams that are dysfunctional, or just sleepy, their learning can come to a screeching halt as they disengage.
Bonus: The Skills Scavenger Hunt exercise is also a great icebreaker, which can be extremely helpful in terms of fostering connections between students taking an online class.
If you want an engaging approach you can use online or in-person for your entrepreneurship curriculum, including an entrepreneurship syllabus template and 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans, check out ExEC.
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10 Free Tools for Increasing Student Engagement Online
This past spring was a painful experience of online student disengagement. Don’t let that happen this fall!
During the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Virtual Conference, we presented 10 Tools to Increase Online Student Engagement. During this conference, we asked participant teams of educators to research each tool and write up some notes in a discussion group. This mimics how you might ask student teams to research something and post their findings and recommendations in the discussion board on your LMS.
We used the summaries participants posted as talking points for this post. You can do this with student posts in your LMS by using their posts as talking points about certain topics, so they see their post consumed and shared.
This jigsaw technique is a powerful way to leverage student desire to perform well in front of their peers to move them into deeper engagement in the material.
Below is a video recap of the conference presentation, followed by more detailed information about all 10 tools. You can sprinkle these tools throughout your entrepreneurship syllabus, or stack these tools like building blocks, to create a deeper face-to-face or online student engagement this fall.
This is an interactive quiz program offering virtual prizes, so students can create their own games or you can create games to deliver interactive learning experiences. When you create a Gimkit, it is basically a quiz that shows up on your students’ phone.
If students answer the question correctly, they receive virtual currency. With this virtual currency, students have the option to buy power-ups. The following are examples of the power-ups available:
To receive more currency for correct answers. If they accumulate 10 virtual dollars, they can buy a streak bonus so if they answer multiple questions correctly in a row they earn more virtual currency
To get a second chance if they answer incorrectly
To get themes to enhance the visual presentation
Gimkit is an amazing gamification experience, which has game mechanics built into a learning experience so students using it will be more bought into the process. Students have various incentives that ignite their natural competitive spirit, which will be very addictive to most of your students, so they just keep playing. And more importantly,
they keep learning while they are playing!
The idea of students creating their own games is another powerful twist to Gimkit. Imagine each student generates their own quiz for an element of the business model canvas. They post a link in the discussion group on your LMS, and then students get to compete with each other and see who understands the various elements of the business model canvas the best by watching the scores within the various games!
To see the 9 other tools that will increase your student engagement this fall with
Interactive quizzes and assessment through gaming experiences
Another gaming experience is Kahoot! Even though Kahoot! has a very elementary school feel to it, we found it works great inside higher education. For all these tools, and Kahoot! in particular, don’t let the branding and marketing toward a younger audience influence your opinion of how engaging they can be for your students’ learning experience.
Like Gimkit, Kahoot! is a game but is used more for synchronous competitions. You create some questions about a particular topic, for instance about the elements of the business model canvas. You post these questions live and then students will see four options on their screen to choose from for each question.
As students answer the particular question, you will see the number of students who pick each answer in real-time. This provides real-time feedback on what students know (or don’t!) about a specific topic. After each question, you have the opportunity to engage students by asking why they chose certain answers and encouraging them to dialogue with each other about why a particular answer is correct or incorrect. The program shows a leaderboard, which changes based on correct and incorrect answers, which will again tap into your students’ natural competitive spirit to keep them very engaged in the learning process.
Here are a few specific ways to use Kahoot! to deeply engage your students:
Test whether students are consuming material (lectures, reading, videos, etc), and whether they understand the logic and use of attitudes, skills, and tools you introduce in your course.
Ask an opinion question that will spark a natural discussion, which you can use as an icebreaker, or to dive deeper into a specific element of your course.
Test students’ knowledge before you introduce a certain topic. In this scenario, students must take a risk by guessing about a topic they know little or nothing about. This is an opportunity to spark a discussion between students who got it wrong and those who got it right, so students teach each other!
USING KAHOOT! IN EXEC
In our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), we have a set of customer interview cards (we have digital cards and physical cards). Our interview cards are digital cards that take the form of a spreadsheet and students will individually sort different questions about customer interviewing into “good” and “bad” questions. We then have a Kahoot! game they play in groups to test their knowledge of these customer interviewing questions.
Students first take a risk individually and make their best guess about whether certain customer interviewing questions are “good” or “bad.” We then use Kahoot to engage students in collaboratively discovering the correct or incorrect answers within a competitive environment that keeps them very engaged.
If you are interested in learning more about this, and other, exercise check out the ExEC preview.
Our third tool, Edpuzzle is a way to turn any video into a quiz or formative assessment tool; you can check if students are watching your videos, how many times they’re watching each section, and if they’re understanding the content. You accomplish this in Edpuzzle by placing interactive content into pre-existing videos.
Using Edpuzzle, you can
Assign a video to students and quickly measure whether or not they watched it with a few basic questions you embed in the video about the video content.
Ask a question before the answer is revealed to students. This requires them to reflect and think about what the right answer is, which could spur some engaging dialogue.
Imagine you create an Edpuzzle interactive video for your students summarizing a discussion topic. We actually do this in the asynchronous online version of ExEC, in an exercise called “Launching Is Easy, Selling Is Hard.”
In this exercise, students work in what we call reflection groups to develop their reasoning behind why people spend far more money on lottery tickets than they are actually worth. The answer has to do with the emotional value people attribute to the lottery ticket.
Students get together in asynchronous breakout rooms in their reflection groups and decide why people spend more money on lottery tickets than they’re worth. Students then post their answers to the discussion group and then we determine which team has the most comprehensive response and thus wins the prize – an actual Powerball lottery ticket!
We record a video using student responses as the basis to actually summarize the main talking points and to highlight any misconceptions that may have come up. This provides a rich path of learning – students post information/opinions in your LMS, then they watch a video summary you make of all responses that have questions embedded in it, then you can have them respond asynchronously in your LMS discussion boards, or synchronously in a face-to-face session.
The nice thing about Edpuzzle is you don’t have to create your own videos. You can use videos from Youtube, Crash Course, or tons of other sites, or you can use someone else’s videos from the Edpuzzle library, or you can upload your own videos to create these tools.
Our next tool is Note.ly. This is a virtual post-it note board where you and your students can build a collaborative post-it note wall. This is a great way to leverage activities like think-pair-share discussions. For instance, we use this approach in our Fear, Curiosity, and Failure lesson plan.
Students brainstorm their biggest fears and curiosities about life after they graduate from school. They write them down individually on post-it notes and then we have them partner up to share. They then share from their pairs with the rest of the class. The instructor takes all the post-it notes and builds out problem clouds / a post-it note wall. They basically take all the different post-it notes and groups similar themed responses together, thus building problem clouds around different themes that come up.
The instructor uses these themes as touchpoints for introducing the entrepreneurship syllabus to make entrepreneurship relevant. This way of introducing the syllabus enables students to understand that even if they don’t want to be an entrepreneur these skills that they will learn in their class will help resolve the fears and curiosities.
Exercises like that are a great way to leverage tools like Note.ly and to have deep discussions because these students share their ideas through post-it notes and you invite them to expand on their notes and get students engaged in learning about each other and the course plan.
The next tool is MindMeister, a mind mapping tool. Mind mapping is a powerful technique that helps you visualize your thoughts and communicate them to others. Mindmeister is a tool with which you can collect a lot of information, organize it, and share it. This tool is perfect for project-based learning because it helps students visualize and organize their thoughts and research findings.
You can also use this tool to divide and conquer a jigsaw approach. For example, student pairs or teams have some topics they’re covering and then they write up some notes. They can map their notes into a mind map that represents an organized and visually engaging collection of information. With a tool like Mindmeister, you can easily conduct jigsaws, and students researching topics on their own can write them up and easily teach classmates about the topics.
For example, you can imagine nine nodes in a mind map, one for each element of the Business Model Canvas. Students can fill out each node with all kinds of information about the respective element, and teach the rest of the class about each element, thus increasing engagement through peer-to-peer instruction.
Mural is another great tool, basically, a digital whiteboard that also has mind mapping capabilities. Much like Note.ly and Mindmeister, Mural provides the opportunity for real-time collaboration. Mural can accomplish the basic functionality of Note.ly and of Mindmesiter, but it can also provide a shared whiteboard capability.
One example is to use one of the many built-in templates in which students can click and drag around post-it notes. In our ExEC, we do something like this with our solution ideation exercise. Students brainstorm a number of different solutions to problems they validated through their customer interviews.
Students brainstorm using a convergent-divergent process where they think of potential solutions to the problem they’re solving, and then we guide them through a series of prompts, for instance asking them to come up with solutions if they had an infinite amount of money, or if they could implement illegal solutions, or if they had no money. We then ask them to brainstorm solutions inspired by those “crazy” ideas.
We could easily use Mural for this exercise by having students place their ideas into a Venn diagram of sorts, or by mapping ideas onto a 2 x 2 matrix, and sharing an engaging visual representation of their multitude of ideas.
Now we will move on to a few tools that you can use for video discussions.
Flipgrid is a discussion group where people comment, except everything is a video. In Flipgrid, your students create videos to create deeper engagement than our LMS text discussions offer them. Flipgrid allows students to have fun with their videos as well, using filters and hats, etc.
Flipgrid will get students talking, especially if you’re running an asynchronous class or if you’re running an exclusively online class. Replacing those static text-based discussions with engaging video discussions is now a snap! With the video format, you will find students, and you, creating a deeper connection with each other because they are seeing faces and movement, not just words on a screen.
Loom is another amazing tool, which we use all the time in ExEC. This tool makes it easy for students to simultaneously capture their screen and their webcam at the same time using a simple Chrome plugin. We literally have thousands of students who are using Loom because it is free and very simple to use.
Our students produce submission videos, where they complete digital worksheets that become part of a slide deck they submit for grading. Their submission is a Loom video where they screen capture their slide deck as they are explaining via a video the slides they are showing. Loom creates a link for the video, which they can share in their LMS, and instructors can easily view the student’s screen and webcam with one click, play it back, speed up, etc.
If you want to see more about how we use Loom to enable students to create engaging submissions and how we assess these submissions with simple rubrics, check out the ExEC preview today!
The next tool to review is Pear Deck. This tool helps instructors use live slide presentation tools with Google slides and PowerPoint to create interactive surveys and game-like questions. This approach creates an engaging experience for the students, and the instructor can see an individual student’s participation.
Pear Deck is a combination of many of the tools we’ve reviewed here but it is embedded in your presentation itself. There are six different types of tools:
You can ask students for a number. Perhaps something like the optimal price point for a product or service. Pear Deck will put this in a range for you and you can ask students within the presentation so it basically becomes an embedded quiz type of tool
You can solicit feedback – for instance, showing students a website they can explore and report back with their feedback
There is map functionality in the tool
You can use the drawing functionality where you can show something in your presentation, and students can use a whiteboard collaboratively and you can share out student designs
You can ask multiple-choice questions.
If you’re doing a fairly involved session and you want one all-in-one tool, Pear Deck could work well instead of having to use multiple tools we reviewed here, such as Mural plus Kahoot. You could use just one tool like Pear Deck and it automatically integrates with your presentation software.
Our final tool to review is Nearpod. This tool is very similar to Pear Deck in that it helps you create presentations and slides that integrate different components to increase online student engagement. Nearpod has some discussion functionality, some quiz functionality, and what they call bellringers, which are small interactive exercises.
You can import existing lessons in a variety of file formats and adding virtual field trips, collaboration boards, quizzes, or polls to them to enhance online student engagement. In your presentation, you can embed questions, quizzes or polls to assess whether your students understand the material, and can view student answers individually or as a class in real-time, or generate post-session reports.
Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid or HyFlex model, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to enable you using tools like those we just reviewed to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students
If you want an engaging approach you can use online or in-person for your entrepreneurship curriculum, including an entrepreneurship syllabus template and 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans, and don’t want to spend all summer building it:
It’s no question: technology is shaping how or students engage (or don’t) with us.
From the apps nagging our students for attention during class to the learning management systems (Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, etc.) we and our students are asked to wrestle with, technology is absolutely altering how we interact with our students.
That said, when leveraged the right way,
Technology can be a way to increase engagement in the classroom.
In this post, we share some of our favorite tech tools you can use to flip the script on technology and use it to re-engage your students.
Active Learning vs Passive Listening
The first thing to know is that lectures are the antithesis of engagement. If your class is full of:
Remember that it’s not that disengaged students don’t like to learn, the truth is most students love learning. They just hate listening.
Ask yourself, what do Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix all have in common? They are all visual-based technologies that our students have grown up with and spend far more time “learning from” than they do lectures.
Now ask yourself, are your bullet points genuinely more compelling than their latest Instagram story?
If the answer is no, the next question to answer is:
How do you create an active learning experience for your students?
If you’re looking to shift from a “sage on the stage” class to an active learning environment, Kahoot! is a great tool to use.
How to Leverage Kahoot! In Your Entrepreneurship Lesson
Gamification is a great way to increase engagement in class. Using technology like Kahoot! you can create multiple-choice competitions that foster engagement or as an assessment tool.
Here’s what we love about Kahoot! in the classroom:
Produces real-time competition
Encourages instant collaboration
Boosts energy with a real-time leader board that students love seeing their names on
Inspires discussion among all students
Kahoot! works by showing students a series of multiple-choice questions on your projector and each student (or team of students) uses their smartphone to quickly answer each question. Teams are awarded points for correct answers, and the faster they answer, the more points they get and after each question, they can see how well their team is doing compared to other teams in the class.
If you want to easily try Kahoot!, we’ve actually integrated it into our free Customer Interviewing Cards Exercise. This lesson plan was presented at USASBE 2020 and teaches valuable customer discovery skills.
Give it a shot and you’ll not only teach your students what questions to ask (and questions avoid) during customer interviews, you’ll do it in an engaging way with full class participation.
Nothing Compares to Learning by Doing
Another way to engage students is to have them teach themselves by creating a “learn by doing” experience. For example, if you want to teach students about the power of Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), why not use Wix and Powtoon to have your students create their own during class?
Wix: Launch Websites (No Student Experience Required)
Wix is a free and user-friendly website creator. Some of the features we’ve found helpful when using in our lesson plans include:
Drag and drop editing
No technical skills required
Powtoon: Your Students Can Create Explainer Videos
Powtoon is an incredibly useful tool to make simple explainer videos fast. Here are some of the features that make Powtoon a useful teaching tool:
Wide-variety of templates
Change elements with a simple click
Animate a video in minutes
While you can plan an entrepreneurial lesson using Wix and Powtoon, we’ve found they can be combined for a powerful lesson. You can try our 60-Minute MVP this semester to introduce your students to Wix and Powtoon so they can see how quickly and easily they can start testing demand for new products, even if they have no tech or video editing skills.
This lesson plan was a finalist in the USASBE 3E competition, and it’s one of the most popular on our site. We hope you give it a shot – not only will it use technology to teach your students new skills, they’ll be completely engaged while they do it.
Design an App Prototype Without Technical Skills
So many of our students want to build apps, but most of them will lack the technical skills to even prototype their apps. Marvel changes that.
Marvel is an easy to use app that lets your students quickly prototype their app designs by first drawing them on paper, and then simply taking pictures of their designs with their phone, but that’s not all!
Here are some of the exciting features you can leverage in the classroom:
Design easily with Marvel’s UI builder
Perform usability testing with a simple link
Get customer/usability feedback immediately
Marvel is free to use and is perfect to encourage design thinking and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. We created our Marvel App Lesson Plan below to introduce you to this new entrepreneurial teaching tool.
It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.
Incorporate Technology in Your Entrepreneurship Class
When used well, technology can transform your classroom into an experiential, fully-engaged experience for your students. If you’d like to learn more about the technologies we use in our entrepreneurship lesson plans, click to learn more. We hope that it supports the work you do in the classroom, and if you and your students enjoy, check out the full Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC).
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