Ready to teach at a distance: the "4Cs" to engage students

According to researchers, 4 keys promote student engagement in their learning: content, collaboration, competition and creation. More info and examples in our article today.

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Researchers have identified 4 things that appear to have been successful in boosting student engagement at 112 schools across the United States last spring. Here they are, along with suggestions for digital tools to experience them, both in class and remotely.

In spring and summer 2020, researchers from Baylor University, in Texas, discussed with leaders from 112 schools to understand the factors that positively influenced the rapid shift to distance education. 

In a previous article, we went over the three themes they recommend focusing on to prepare: well-being, engagement and feedback (in class, as remotely).

Today, we focus on engaging students in their learning. In their interviews, the researchers identified what they call the 4Cs of engagement: content, collaboration, competition, and creation.

1. Content

At the end of the last school year, many teachers have experimented, either by choice or by obligation, with new ways of delivering content. Schools that were already using e-learning platforms such as Schoology and Canvas (very popular in the United States, to which we could add for our context Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams) have made the transition to online education relatively smoothly.

For kindergarten to grade two teachers, Seesaw has proven to be an invaluable tool due to its ease of use and ability to give and receive feedback.

Finally, applications like Edpuzzle and Pear Deck allow teachers to incorporate questions and foster interaction in videos and presentations Google Slides. We could probably add Didacti for Quebec, in particular.

2. Competition

Friendly competition, especially for knowledge activation, is a great way to engage students, the researchers say. Quizlet is a good revision tool for almost any subject, the use of which is facilitated by the large number of quizzes already created by teachers and students everywhere (mostly in English). In addition, the tool allows young people to receive immediate feedback on what they know and don't know.

Kahoot! has also been a favorite in the quiz type for several years now. It allows students to compete against each other in an interactive game format, in class or remotely.

Let us also mention Gimkit, developed by a high school kid who loved Kahoot !, but wanted to make improvements. In style, we also like Wooclap, developed in Belgium.

3. Collaboration

The shift to distance learning required teachers to vary the tools they used to facilitate virtual collaboration. Here are three tools that have proven invaluable in several circles surveyed by researchers.

  • Parlay allows teachers to virtually follow students' discussions around meaningful texts and triggers, with the aim of getting them to develop their thinking.
  • Mentimeter allows students and teachers to collect real-time data in the form of word clouds, leaderboards and multiple choice quizzes.
  • Wall is a digital workspace for virtual collaboration that allows teachers and students to publish, group, and rearrange ideas in real time.

4. Creation

The creation of content by young people allows them to develop their autonomy and considerably increases the level of engagement. Tools such as Can go, Piktochart and Padlet allow students to create digital images and content. Screencastify, GoFormative and Loom allow them to annotate and explain complex problems.

For its part, Flipgrid allows you to submit photos and videos, which can then be commented on by teachers and other students. Finally, Clips and iMovie (for iPad) are examples of apps that empower young people to tell their own stories.

To read the original article by Jonathan Becker, professor at Baylor University, visit on the Edutopia website. And you, what were your essentials during confinement and that you keep at the start of the year to be ready for any eventuality?

Several digital tools mentioned in this article are the subject of CréaCamps trainings of the École branchée this year. Complete programming is here.

   Carrefour education also presents articles on these tools: Seesaw, Canvas, Edpuzzle, Pear Deck, Quizlet, Mentimeter, Piktochart, Padlet (alternatives), Flipgrid, iMovie.

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About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Miller
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

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