Multiple Technologies for Keeping Students Engaged and Motivated

Aleta May

Initial Blog Post Week 5

for EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham

What tools will my group use as we create our online course?  What is our rationale for using these tools?

Our group is working through these pertinent questions now.  I have many ideas for tools to use.  One that I have mentioned is the use of podcasts”an audio file listened to via streaming technology or internet download” (Guertin, 2010, p. 6).  An idea for using podcasts came from this article by Guertin, where the instructor has volunteer students gather in his office to discuss the lecture deeper than the presentation in class (2010).  That sound like a great idea!  Students in our high school literature class could discuss the meaning of a poem or short story the online students will read.  It would be most helpful if we can get our literature teacher either to help me with true interpretation so I am a better discussion leader, or to just find out if he would be willing to lead this.   “The student podcast listeners who are not involved with the recordings still report a greater sense of connection with the class and content” (Guertin, 2010, p. 6).

Originally, my idea was to ask students to read the poem or a section of a reading into a podcast for students to listen to or to read along with.  This idea can still be used.  Online students could still be required to read the content themselves to dig deeply for meaning and then write about their thoughts to a given prompt or paragraph frame.  Having already listened to a reading of the material will assist students in comprehending the text, because they receive the material audibly with prosody (fluency, rhythm, expression).

PowerPoint presentations may be used with an accompanying audio.  Would this be podcast or is there an audio capability already built into PowerPoint?  Presentations like this can be used to present major concepts, and to support vocabulary with mind map pictures/graphic representations, etc.  Separately, it may work to add “Word Talk” as a free add-in that will read documents aloud and even create audio files for listening to again later (Teach Thought Staff, 2013).  Links to YouTube sites or other educational sites provided will build on both vocabulary and background knowledge.

Last night I was reading through Poetry for Young People:  Maya Angelou.  This is a beautifully illustrated book of a selection of her poems that could be used as a lead in to help give students a feel for the times from the perspective of African Americans.  They could make connections to present events or other events known by the student in their personal experiences, by using the pattern of a poem to write their own poem; this is a copy-change activity (Sanacore, 2005).  One way is to video tape myself reading the poem, while with the book held up.  High school students are not too old for this type of picture book reading—and it is brief.

Locating and uploading pictures from the timeframe of the reading will help students gain background knowledge about what things were like in that time and space.  Some pictures like this may be used as a writing prompt:  If you were one of the people standing on the sidewalk watching Martin Luther King, Junior live out his passionate words of advice, to march peacefully, knowing he would be arrested along with other leaders of the cause, how do you think you would feel?  Now pretend you are a teenager standing on that sidewalk with the crowd (with your younger brothers and sisters), considering what if my mom or dad went to jail, purposefully sacrificing themselves to promote freedom for themselves and the future of you and your siblings.  Describe your thoughts about what you would do.  Think about your role at home and school and how these would be affected.  Write about this.  Include facts (efferent) from your reading of … and your emotions (afferent stance).

An example of using freestyle poetry could be posted so that students can use the example to create their own, to capture the emotions of the time and create their own historical picture.  Another writing can have characters can talk to each other where someone from a present day Civil Rights situation can ask the advice of a true character from the past, using captions.  This is a way for students to explore how issues are similar and different over time.  They can read it into a podcast and upload (scan) the project in, as a writing assignment, aligned with the writing piece of the standards in American Literature.

The examples provided cover flexible use “offering content in multiple formats” (McClary, 2014, p. 9).  Students have multiple ways to be successful and to connect to the material.  Course design may need to be a stand alone design, in that there may be no way to ensure that students will take this at the same time as others in order to blog about topics.  Yet, it needs a collaborative feel.  The teacher involvement with the student may be felt if teachers or course designers make brief video clip appearances.


Guertin, L. A. (2010).  Creating and using podcasts across the disciplines. Currents In

      Teaching and Learning 2(2), Spring.

McClary, J. (2014).  Factors in high quality distance learning courses.

Sanacore, J. (2005).  Increasing student participation in the language arts.

     Intervention in School and Clinic, 41(2).

TeachThought Staff (2013).  8 helpful assistive technology tools for your classroom.

Wilson, E. G. (Ed.) and Lagarrigue, J. (Illustrator) (2013).  Poetry for Young People:

Maya Angelou.  New York, NY:  Sterling Children’s Books.

5 thoughts on “Multiple Technologies for Keeping Students Engaged and Motivated

  1. jcrocker2

    I don’t think PowerPoint has the capability to record your spoken audio, but you can use a screencasting website or app to record yourself speaking over the presentation and have it automatically turned into a video file (PowerPoint visual, spoken audio). Dr. Graham does this a lot for different tutorials, and we will usually do presentations like this. I think we’ll also be using the screencast tool to demonstrate how to navigate our course blackboard page. It’s really a handy tool, especially if we can add closed captioning!
    As for using Maya Angelou (or any other author/poet) we really need to check on copyright issues before we spend too much time developing units based on those pieces. It would be a shame to spend all of that time working on a unit only to find out that we aren’t allowed to distribute any of the text. The only way around that is too guarantee that students can get a copy from their local/school library or buy one (which might not be so easy for students in some villages!).
    I’m glad that you’re bursting with ideas. It’ll be great to see what you come up with.

    1. aletakmay Post author

      If you have the link for screen cast, that would be great. I may have used that in the class I took with her this summer.

      I thought that by reading the poem, students could listen (and or watch), and comment on that without uploading a print version.

      I wrote on Naomi’s blog that I had a concern about writing a course without texts or tradebooks because of this very issue. I can find an original of Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering the I have a dream speech, but now that is even being nabbed for copyright as I look for this. I can spend a lot of time looking for a free version of a variety of sources, some easy to find, and others not. However, I think the students need for the district to order packets of inexpensive trade books, to read parts out of, and a basic American Literature anthology text. To me that is almost as basic as providing students with places to sit at school. In this village, I literally had to “advocate” for decent desks. I don’t expect students to purchase two or 3 tradebooks and a basic American Literature book (an online version would be handy), any more than I do desks and chairs. I am in an online class and I expect that textbooks would be a part of that.

  2. tvanwyhe66

    Hi, Aleta…
    We’re on the same wavelength when it comes to personalizing the course and giving it a more “human” element. At the conclusion of your post, you wrote: “The teacher involvement with the student may be felt if teachers or course designers make brief video clip appearances.” This is something that I, too, think would be a great addition to a class, and it would certainly remove the “it’s just the student and a computer” perception of an online class. O.K., so it is a student and a computer, but if there is a human face and voice to support explanations of content, introduce the module, etc., it would help to bring a “real person” into the equation. Especially for students in credit recovery classes, the connection to a person who is “there for them” is so important…even if that person is a talking head on a brief video. I have no research to support this (though I’m sure it’s out there!), but we have certainly read plenty this semester about the critical nature of discourse, communication, and connections between learner and teacher in online classes.
    A really cool tool that could be used to introduce a module or for a lecture is I previously used one called Knovio that does the same thing that does, but is a bit easier to use (in my opinion). The user can upload a PPP, Google doc, pdf, Prezi, etc., and then record a video explanation or lecture to go along with the presentation. Audio-only is also available. The presentation is then shared via a link and can be viewed by the student. This may be a tool we choose to use as an intro to each of our modules…or only for some, as determined by the module designer.
    Another VERY cool tool that isn’t an option for us due to cost is something called Knowledge Vision. Watch the overview video at It would be ideal for use in developing video-enhanced presentations.
    If you have a chance, you might want to check out, as it does exactly what you were asking about in your post this week! 🙂

    Knowledge Vision

    1. aletakmay Post author


      Thank you for your valued response to me! I will be looking at the tools you wrote about; as I appreciate your knowledge in which tools to use (I’m sure if I go out into internet world looking for tools, I will be completely overwhelmed).


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