To what extent do informal drop-in sessions help to improve student engagement across digital learning?
COVID-19 has presented many different challenges to learning and teaching. At our school, one of, if not the most challenging aspect of digital learning has been encouraging pupils across the school to engage well with lessons on Microsoft Teams. Engaging with peers and teachers is one of the most important parts of education (Oberski, Ford, & Fisher). Planning the enquiry, the group decided to focus on the engagement of pupils, but also the wellbeing of the pupils throughout the extended period of lockdown and digital learning.
Having held various discussions as a group around the challenges and opportunities of digital learning, the conclusion that was drawn was that there had been dramatically varying levels of engagement throughout the school as a whole. Engagement had been varying year-group to year-group but also class to class within year-groups. We therefore took the decision that we would focus on an individual year and try and improve the overall engagement of that group of pupils. The discussion then moved on to how and through what media could we attempt to improve engagement. Microsoft Teams has been a focal part of our day-to-day digital learning practice, so we decided we should utilise this platform to run an activity which would aim to improve the overall engagement of pupils and also the overall pupil-teacher interaction levels, which had also suffered due to the circumstances. Student interaction can have a positive impact on learning (Nasreen, Ahmed, & Ansari, 2014) (Elements, 2014) so it was agreed that pupils would benefit from an informal, conversational session with teachers, to open up the dialogue and build the relationships which had seriously suffered due to covid. The group decided to host weekly drop-in session with S1, the informal nature of which would hopefully see a larger uptake amongst pupils. The group decided to call the sessions “Chatty Tuesdays”, a further attempt at informalising the sessions and improving the engagement we would see.
The primary aim of the enquiry was to see an improvement in the engagement of younger pupils with Microsoft Teams and digital learning as a whole. The group were aiming to see an improved uptake in the Chatty Tuesday sessions but also and improvement in engagement with digital learning on a wider context. Secondly, the group decided that another key focus of the enquiry should be the metal wellbeing of the pupils. The group aimed to see an improvement in the pupils’ communication, both with teachers and one another.