Digital Tools For Learner Engagement in the Virtual Classroom – Part 4 Quillionz: An Easy-to-use Digital Tool

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Recap:

The sudden onslaught of the Covid-19 crisis and the pandemic situation displaced education from the physical environment. This move to online mode of education forced educators to upgrade their technical skills almost overnight and grapple with unfamiliar digital tools and technology to keep learning going.

In the virtual environment, teachers feel at a loss to know if learners are engaged and what could be done to motivate them. Many educators are now in the predicament of having to choose from a bewildering plethora of digital tools that claim to make their jobs easier.

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Operational Definition of Terms

  • Teacher / Educator – a person who teaches or instructs as a profession
  • Student / Learner – a person who is trying to gain knowledge or skill in something by studying, practicing, or being taught
  • Online classes – Instructional experiences using the digital network for interaction, learning and dialogue
  • Virtual environment – an environment that does not require face-to-face meetings in a physical location
  • Digital tools – Software, programs, applications, platforms and resources that can be used with computers, mobile devices or other digital devices and which incorporate text, audio and visual stimuli

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Quillionz

Pen-and-paper quizzes used regularly by teachers in the physical classroom are no longer possible in online classes.

The new mainstays for teachers in the virtual environment are :

  • the use of thumbs-up or thumbs-down,
  • hand signals,
  • online polls,
  • discussion boards
  • chat boxes

Formative assessments are indispensable in helping teachers adjust their teaching[1] based on what students know at each point.

Teachers use formative assessments as quick pulse-checks to know whether learners have grasped key concepts or not and to identify gaps in their understanding.

The use of formative assessments hasbecome harder in the virtual environment, as teachers cannot just walk around the class like they did in the physical classrooms and look over the learner’s shoulders.

A digital tool that is of great help to teachers in the virtual learning environment is ‘Quillionz’ that can be which can be quickly and easily set up to be used for formative assessments. Teachers do not require high levels of technical knowledge to be able to utilise Quillionz.

User-friendly Features of Quillionz

  • Quillionz can be conveniently used for giving homework or for creating student-centred assignments.
  • Objective questions can be created by teachers to regularly check the grasp learners have gained about concepts taught.
  • Quillionz enables easy generation of dozens of questions, which get aggregated into a question bank that can be used and reused by teachers. However, it is a given that teachers do need to design quizzes that support learner engagement, in order to use this tool effectively.
  • Teachers who liked to administer frequent short tests in the physical classroom to assess student learning, can create that experience, even in online classes,using Quillionz.
  • Teachers can create formative assessments based on their lecture notes, class reading materials, online content, or PDFs.
  • Teachers can use Quillionz to create differentiated assessments with scaffolded questions having varying levels of difficulty.

[1] ‘Formative assessment used during instruction provides useful feedback for adjustments in ongoing teaching and learning to improve student outcomes’ in “Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice” by Randy Elliot Bennett, 2011

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Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Peer learning is an important part of education, in the physical learning environment as well as in the virtual environment.

What is peer learning?

Peer learning refers to learning that involves the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experience between participants who are peers.

Peer learning can help students learn effectively from each other[1], taking responsibility for their own learning and ‘learning how to learn.’

Such collaborative learning helps in:

  • developing organizing and planning skills,
  • giving and receiving feedback and
  • evaluating their own learning.

Quillionz makes peer learning possible.

Smart teachers could group learners into small or large teams and have them generate and analyze questions and answers together, using Quillionz.

Thus, learners work and bond together, enabling the process of socialization even in the virtual environment.

Teachers do not have to start from scratch as Quillionz has built-in tips and presents keywords and phrases that intuitively assist teachers. They can choose the most relevant inputs to create customized, text-based questions for differentiated testing for learners with varying levels of understanding.

Teachers can develop pre-unit assessments with Quillionz to find out the previous knowledge of the learners and inform their instruction based on those results.

Quillionz enables formative assessments with changes possible ‘along the way’, thus enabling both teachers and students to perform better in the virtual environment.


[1] ‘Peer learning helps learner move beyond independent learning to interdependent or mutual learning’ – Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning From & With Each Other; David Boud, Ruth Cohen & Jane Sampson. (1988)

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Concluding Remarks

Digital tools like Mentimeter, Toodledo and Quillionz would be effective in the hands of teachers who are passionate about teaching, who are ready to take on the challenges posed by online education and who are willing to put in the time and efforts needed to keep their learners engaged, in the virtual environment.

Many online tools for learning are presented as instant solutions.

It is vital to consider the needs of the learners and their level of learning, besides the obvious need of ease of access and usefulness to the teachers to determine the appropriateness or otherwise of digital tools.

Educators need to assess which digital tools work best for them, in providing support for learners to succeed in the virtual environment.

Many of the factors impacting learners may very well be beyond the area of influence of technology or the educators.

It should not be expected that teachers will ‘fix’ everything, using a dazzling array of innovative, digital tools.

What is crucial in the virtual environment, just as in the conventional physical environment, is that educators develop empathy and understanding of their learners and use it to inform the choices made and provide guidance and motivation to their learners.

Learners are unique individuals with differing needs, learning styles and preferences, having problems both expressed and unexpressed.

Many variables impact the success of the teaching learning process in the physical environment such as aptitude of the learner for that subject, comfort level with teachers of different subjects, physical, emotional and mental health and well-being of teacher and taught alike.

Teachers would do well to keep in mind that these factors would continue to play a significant role in the success of the teaching-learning process in the virtual environment also, regardless of the level of sophistication of the digital tools and technology used.

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References

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