What does it mean to "engage" a learner? or to "engage" a community?

The notes below emerged from a discussion around engaging learners, in 2005. We've used these as a starting point for our conference discussion, in the September online event, "Tapping into Resources" (you'll need to login before this link will work. The engagement theme was also a focus of our presentation at the eDayz conference (Details here: including mind map from session).

radio_star_.._by_fodt_at_flickr_opt2_.jpgPrimary factors include:

  • the "WIIFM Factor" (what's in it for me?),
  • using fun and motivating resources,
  • being aware of your learners' needs and goals.

Ideas and strategies around "engaging" have included:

  • know your learners well (who they are and what they want) - be prepared with good tools to evaluate or profile their skills, needs and goals;
  • "need to show students how they could achieve something";
  • give your participants ownership of the process and content, as well as a sense of positive achievement - perhaps ask people to build up their public profile, with a photo, or even video;
  • explain what resources and tools are available - then ask what people want, and for their ideas - maybe they'll have their own new ideas about working with technology;
  • make (some of) the learning fun - any way you can (eg. use ms.powerpoint as a fun way to learn skills needed for ms.word)
  • use visuals, audio, animation, interaction (between learners, as well as computer-to-human);
  • find an engaging theme for tailored learning resources; and combine learning resources with discussion tools;
  • enable some of your learners to work as mentors;
  • introduce literacy "by stealth" (and maybe technology as well, eg. use ms.powerpoint to work with photos in a group);
  • find a form of technology that your participants are already comfortable with (if possible) as an introduction ..
  • Learners respond differently to different approaches and technologies (some learners need fun, others need 'timely management');

Plus, to engage local community or business

  • run an open community or business lunch/ information session;
  • or offer a presentation at an already scheduled industry meeting;
  • ask one of the Toolbox Champions to visit your area.

Image Radio Star by fodt at flickr.