A summary of #LTHEchat 3 – Engaging the unengaged learners

This weeks chat was led by Peter Reed and Sue Beckingham. The topic was chosen by the community and was ‘Engaging the unengaged learners’.

It was great to see new Tweeters joining the conversation and hope others who are listening in after the tweet chat will also contribute their views by adding comments to this blog post or via Twitter (remember to include the hashtag #LTHEchat).

Once again it was a lively debate. Establishing what an engaged or unengaged learner was not easy to define.

Examples of what can signify engagement included:

“having eye contact”

“body language”

“pursues further reading and other resources, but you wouldn’t necessarily know”

“eyes in phones/tablets can be looking for evidence”

“online engagement not always visible, same in the face-to-face classroom”

Concerns raised were:

“Getting to engage in class is not the problem, its getting them to attend first.”

“Student body more diverse than ever. Attendance can be a problem. How can we engage if students are unable to attend?”

“In a class of 350 how could you tell?”

“What does an engaged face look like?”

“Do we ask our students if they are engaged?”

“Is there a difference between unengaged (don’t know what they should be doing) vs disengaged (can’t be bothered)”

“Unengaged can be a pretty desperate place – unsure of what they do and don’t know. Give up on asking, or too scared to”

“Monitoring attendance? Does this encourage unengaged presence?”

Tips included:

  • Getting the students to take turns leading a session
  • Build in social and group activities to build a community
  • Turning distractions into tools for learning. Integrate mobile devices into the session not just for notes
  • Include a range of challenges to build confidence
  • Scaffold engagement
  • Inviting alumni to give guest lectures
  • Group reflection, being on a journey together
  • Regular changes of pace/direction/content and teaching style
  • Anything that you can turn the results into a “so what” moment – why have you done this activity
  • Contextualising learning: understanding of prior knowledge through entry/exit tickets. Identifying the needs of the learners and the way they learn
  • Modelling how tools, low and high-tech can help them engage with their learning: notetaking, mindmaps for ideas generation, group work etc.
  • Making learning material accessible and adaptable and engage students in the process of creating these
  • Authentic and inquiry-based activities that get students to think, pair and then share

You can read more about the conversations that took place by looking at the questions that were raised by Peter and Sue during the chat and read the rich discussion curated as a Storify.


Q1: What does an engaged learner do to signify they are engaged?

Q2: What signs would you say identify an unengaged learner?

Q3: What motivates you personally to engage with learning/CPD?

Q4: What type of activities work best to engage learners?

Q5: Do you see opportunities to introduce social media to keep learners engaged? Explain.

Q6: What examples can you share where students use of social media has increased engagement?


The answers to these questions and the discussion by tweets was captured using Storify. You can find the full story here


Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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