Enhancing Student Engagement in eLearning: Applying Theory to Practice

ID: 40076 Type: Workshop
  1. David Kaufman, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Monday, October 21 1:30 PM-5:00 PM Location: Versailles 2 View on map

Abstract: This workshop introduces participants to the concept and importance of engagement in eLearning and discusses ways to enhance it. A definition and brief rationale is provided which is followed by a description of the characteristics of net generation learners. Several learning principles derived from learning theories as well as some key research evidence is then presented as a guide to practice. The second portion of the tutorial then demonstrates a variety of practical and useable examples for participants to incorporate into their own online teaching. The session concludes with some guidance regarding resources for instructors who wish to learn more about this topic.


By the completion of this tutorial, participants should be able to: 1. explain the concept of engagement and its importance in e-Learning 2. discuss the characteristics of net generation learners 3. describe several learning theories and the key principles for practice derived from these 4. describe several key research findings that support the concept of learner engagement 5. use a variety of examples from this tutorial and elsewhere to enhance the engagement of their learners 6. locate resources for further study and skill development

Topical Outline

Rationale: Why change our current teaching approaches? 1. Critiques of ‘traditional’ teaching 2. Net generation learners 3. Learning theories 4. Research evidence Some Characteristics of Net Generation Learners 1. Technology skilled 2. Rely on search engines for information 3. Interested in multimedia 4. Like to create Internet content 5. Learn by discovery / trial and error 6. Multitask on everything and have short attention span 7. Crave social interaction and prefer teamwork and collaboration Applying Learning Theories to Educational Practice Brief mention of the key points of following learning theories: • Social Constructivism • Experiential Learning • Adult Learning Principles • Reflective Practice • Social Cognitive Theory/Self-Efficacy • Communities of Practice Six learning principles derived from these theories Research Evidence APA Learning-Centered Psychological Principles (1997) (2 key ones) Practical examples under the following headings 1. Use collaboration 2. Use co-operative learning structures 3. Assign group challenges 4. Use technology creatively, engagingly, and appropriately (many different examples) 5. Resources for instructors Instructional Methods A balance of 60% mini-lectures/demos and 40% participant activities will be observed.


Basic knowledge of, and skill in using, the internet Some experience in eLearning

Experience Level



Dr. David Kaufman received his doctorate from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1973. Since that time, he has held a number of academic and administrative positions. He has held faculty appointments in Faculties of Engineering, Computer Science, Medicine, and Education at Concordia University (Loyola), Dalhousie University, Simon Fraser University, and the University of British Columbia. He also has served as Coordinator of Research and Development for the former Educational Research Institute of British Columbia, Director of Course Design for the Open Learning Institute (British Columbia’s distance education institution), Director of the Medical Education Unit and later Director of Faculty Development in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Kaufman is the 1998 recipient of Dalhousie University’s Instructional Leadership Award for his efforts in promoting and enhancing teaching. In 2001, he was appointed Director of the Learning and Instructional Development Centre at Simon Fraser University and has recently completed a seven-year term. Since 2003, he has been a Professor in the Faculty of Education and is continuing his academic work. Dr. Kaufman has given more than 200 presentations at universities and conferences in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the Caribbean. He has published extensively, with more than 100 published articles and chapters and a co-edited book (Distance Education in Canada) to his credit. He is the co-author of this books entitled Educational Gameplay and Simulation Environments: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, published by IGI Global, and Jeux et Simulations Educatifs: Etudes de Cas et Lecons Apprises, published by the University of Quebec Press. He also is a reviewer for many journals, professional associations and funding agencies, and recently completed a term as member of the national SSHRC Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) research grant committee and currently sits on the national SSHRC Standard Research Grant adjudication committee (Education and Social Sciences). Dr. Kaufman and his colleague (Dr. Louise Sauvé) recently completed an SSHRC INE Collaborative Research Initiative grant of $3million between 2003-08 on Simulation and Advanced Gaming Environments (SAGE) for Learning. He and his colleagues currently hold a four-year SSHRC research grant to study digital games for seniors and are continuing their work in this area. See http://www.educ.sfu.ca/faculty/faculty/dr--kaufman-david.html


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