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Learning Library Blog 5 Engaging Ideas for Online and In-Person Learning
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5 Engaging Ideas for Online and In-Person Learning

By Jerry Fingal
January 3, 2022

Discover how to make learning more engaging, equitable and robust from five veteran educators who’ve learned from experience. These ISTELive presenters delve into topics like helping struggling students, creating a classroom genius hour, using breakout games and more. Watch the videos below to learn useful tips for your classroom

Google Tools for struggling students

Eric Curts, a longtime technology integration specialist, provides an expert’s guide to tools within the Google ecosystem that can help struggling students and those with special needs. They include text-to-speech and speech-to-text tools, apps that improve readability and comprehension, and those that address behavior, focus and ease navigation. Install and try out each tool as Curts demonstrates them in the video below.

Personalized learning with genius hour

Nicholas Provenzano, aka The Nerdy Teacher, thinks that boring, canned curriculum is a source of frustration for teachers and students alike. He advocates for a Genius Hour approach, which puts learning in the hands of students by allowing them to choose what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. For example, students can build a carpentry project or customize a pair of shoes and use digital tools to show how they did it. Giving students a personal stake increases engagement and provides skills to become lifelong learners. Watch the video below to get started. 

Drawing as a thinking process

Manuel Herrera understands that most people are reluctant to draw because they feel their artistic ability is lacking. But Herrera offers a different perspective: If you can think, you can draw. Herrera, a school district innovation coordinator, strongly believes in drawing as a way to demonstrate thinking. Through exercises such as turning squiggles into birds and assembling a toolbox of shapes, Herrera shows how anyone can communicate ideas through drawing. Watch the video below to get a new perspective on your artistic abilities.

Creative storytelling with Adobe Creative Cloud Express

From cave drawings and hieroglyphics to Facebook and Instagram, humans have always sought to share their stories. And in this digital age, the tools have never been better. Claudio Zavala Jr., a digital designer for a school district in Texas, wants to show people how to use digital tools to tell their stories. Zavala will demonstrate how free apps, like Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark) for video and text, and Adobe Premiere Rush for animation, can bring stories to life. Watch the video below to easily start telling your story. 

Collaboration with digital breakout games

Watch Desiree Alexander as she parodies the day-to-day routine of dull online lectures and lessons and then describes a better way. Alexander, regional director of Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, shares the benefits of digital breakout games, activities where students work together to solve puzzles and riddles. Alexander touts the benefits: They can be used digitally or in person; they’re free, student-centered and flexible; and they connect content to cultural relevance. Watch the video below to learn ways to spice up your online lessons. 


Jerry Fingal is an Oregon-based blogger who writes about the many ways technology enhances teaching and learning. This is an updated version of post that originally published on June 8, 2020.