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Secrets for Engaging Students in Online Learning

Pennsylvania Convention Center, Terrace Ballroom II/III

Participate and share : Interactive session


Associate Professor
University Of Northern Iowa
Dr. Leigh Zeitz is an ISTE Author, an Associate Professor, and Instructional Technology Coordinator at the University of Northern Iowa. He has been active in ISTE for over 30 years, is past President of the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN, and has been awarded the U.S. President's Volunteer Service Award through ISTE. In 2020, Dr. Z was awarded the 2020 ISTE Global Collaboration PLN Innovation award for his work on this project. Over his 45 years of teaching, he has developed an educational strategy that involves challenging and empowering learners by providing a learning environment that is teacher-guided and student-driven.

Session description

Learning online can be challenging. It's about more than conveying information; it also has to be engaging. We'll uncover secrets for creating an interactive community of online learners, including running a successful online session, optimizing breakout rooms to develop student interaction, connecting with your students and using various interactive tools.
Grade level: 6-12
Skill level: Beginner

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to share a variety of strategies and tools for providing successful online learning. These strategies are not restricted to the technological tools, but are based upon proven pedagogical processes. It begins by the Communities of Inquiry framework for organizing various genres of instructional media and pedagogical aproaches. Once the framework has been established, a variety of techniques, recommendations, and online tools are intoduced.

At the end of this session, the attendees will be able to:
1. Describe the Communities of Inquiry framework.
2. Explain the importance of the Social Presence, Teaching Presence, Cognitive Presence in facilitating learning.
3. Discuss the importance of the educator connecting with their students to create an educational environment.
4. List a variety of onine tools that can facilitate student/teacher connections.
5. Share some of the online facilitator strategies for successfully hosting an online course.
6. Describe some of the online tools shared, including, Pear Deck, Kahoot, Quizizz and MentiMeter.

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Engaging Students
Communities of Inquiry Framework
Cognitive Presence, Teaching Presence, & Social Presence
Strategies for Building the Teacher-Student and Student-Student connection.
Opening Question Activity
Work Groups
Social Media
Building Teaching Presence through Effective Online Synch Class Management
Enlist an Assistant
Use 2 Monitors
Use the Chat Room
Use Multiple Cameras
Secrets to Managing Your Class
Give Audio Feedback
Filter Your Email
Effectively Using Breakout Rooms
Organizing Breakout Rooms with Shared Documents
Support Your Students with Weekly Checklists
Facilitate Cognitive Presence through Interactive Online Tools
Pear Deck

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Supporting research

Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning. In Encyclopedia of distance learning, Second edition (pp. 352-355). IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch052

Hart, C. (2012). Factors associated with student persistence in an online program of study: A review of the literature. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 11(1).

Murdock, J. L., & Williams, A. M. (2011). Creating an online learning community: Is it possible?. Innovative Higher Education, 36(5), 305-315. DOI 10.1007/s10755-011-9188-6

Wang, A. I., & Tahir, R. (2020). The effect of using Kahoot! for learning–A literature review. Computers & Education, 149, 103818. Doi:

Zeitz, L. (2021) Engaging students with opening question activities in online learning. Unpublished manuscript, University of Northern Iowa.

Zeitz, L., Bryans-Bongey, S., & Galloway, M. (2021) Confronting the new normal in teacher education. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Zeitz, L. (2021) Secrets to effective use of instructional media to engage students in online learning. international Conference on Linguistics and Language Teaching.

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Session specifications

Global collaboration
Coaches, Professional developers, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
For Students:
Global Collaborator
  • Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

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