Engaging Students with Technology

When tasked with engaging students to obtain some feedback, I decided to introduce technology to connect with them on their terms. This past week I visited three high schools in 3 of Qalipu First Nation‘s Wards in Central Newfoundland and Labrador. As part of the Kiskajei wjit Espi-kina ‘muaqn’ – “I am Ready for Higher Studies” project, we talked with students and members of the community about saving money for post-secondary education. One of the objectives of the project is to measure the change in awareness of Registered Education Savings Plans, and the Canada Learning Bond.

Using Surveys

One of the easiest ways to measure an increase in learning is to ask participants their knowledge level before and after an information session. Typically I would use a feedback evaluation form, on paper, for participants to complete. As my client and I were preparing for these sessions, we all realized getting students to stop by a table in the hallway, listen to us, and then fill out a paper survey was just not going to work. Yet, I am tasked with producing a report with this information!

Introducing Technology

I have used technology in group settings both as a facilitator and a participant. Slido is a technology tool which has worked well for me. I started playing around with polls, Q&As, and PowerPoint presentations. Finally, I settled on a survey. Developing a quick survey for before and after our information session seemed to be the way to go. Once launched, the surveys generate a QR code (quick response code), a scannable barcode, anyone can access by using the camera on their phone or tablet. Folks can also access a website and enter an event code to complete the survey.

We decided to keep it simple and not even use a presentation. I printed off the QR codes and had them ready at our table to scan.

Have a back up plan!

When using technology, it is prudent to always have a back up plan! The first challenge we ran into was the inability to access the Internet to launch the surveys. With the help of school administrators and IT support folks, we managed to connect at each school. Surveys were launched. We enticed students to visit us by asking them to complete a very short survey. Almost all had phones. For those who did not, we had iPads ready to use. The students were very interested in using the technology. The visits became very engaging for the students, and we were able to share important information. Following our discussion, students completed a second survey to measure their learning.

Our Central road trip is complete. We have 6 more Wards to visit in the coming weeks. The data we have gathered so far is robust, timely, and much more than we would have received by using traditional methods. As a result, the final report on this project will provide more insights than originally anticipated. Look out Western Newfoundland and Labrador! Qalipu and I are coming to a high school near you with a Slido survey. Get your phones ready! ~ Carole