Weekly puzzles to enhance teacher presence & interaction between students

Puzzles and games can be a useful strategy to enhance both staff-student and peer-peer interaction online. In her Conservation Biology subject (BIO216) Melanie Massaro uses weekly “threatened species puzzles” to lure students into the discussion board and to remind students that she is there to support them. A very simple strategy – but one that keeps the students engaged with the subject content, the academic and their peers. 

What were you trying to achieve?

Maintaining student engagement over a 14 week teaching session can be difficult. Melanie wanted to use an informal and FUN strategy to ensure students remained connected with her subject and gave them a reason to regularly log in to the BIO216 i2 site. The weekly puzzles are not linked to any assessment tasks in this subject – however, a weekly winner is announced and overall winner determined at the conclusion of the subject. 

What did it look like?

Watch the following screen cast to see how this initiative works and how the students responded to the weekly puzzles.

How can I make this happen? 

  1. Find some interesting content, case studies or images that a relevant for the subject. 
  2. Turn these into a puzzle or game
  3. Send an announcement with the details of the weekly puzzle with directions on where and how students are to provide their responses and comments
  4. Follow-up the following week with the announcement of the weekly winner and the new puzzle…..(for difficult puzzles hints and tips may need to be added along the way!)

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