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  1. Student engagement with out-of-class activities is becoming more difficult as students spend fewer hours outside the classroom studying the content. This research developed a mobile educational platform, Dysgu, to provide students with an optimal learning experience outside of the classroom. Dysgu includes social networking and gamification features to increase student engagement. The platform offers interactive auto-graded assessments to help students practice concepts and take tests. Students can see their scores and a summary of the performance of the rest of the class. We used Dysgu for multiple out-of-class activities at two universities with different student demographics for two semesters. The data shows that students obtain better grades when using Dysgu. We also saw more on-time or ahead-of-time submissions with Dysgu. Survey responses indicated several Dysgu features which students found helpful. We conclude that digital educational platforms should consider features to support scaffolding to master the concept, peer influence to keep students engaged, self-reflection to foster critical thinking, and easy adaption of the platform to reduce faculty workload and improve students’ acceptance of the system.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. The Sol y Agua researcher-practitioner partnership (RPP) project introduces computational thinking (CT) in the middle school of the Paso del Norte region using a linguistically and culturally responsive approach. At the core of this RPP is the Sol y Agua game, a bilingual, culturally- and environmentally-relevant educational game developed at the University of Texas at El Paso to introduce computing and STEM topics in middle school. The Sol y Agua RPP includes some critical areas for a successful RPP, including partnership building and the focus on a linguistically and culturally-responsive pedagogy and content development. We describe our approach to build a sustainable RPP, incorporating bilingual pedagogy, and integrating CT through a culturally- and environmentally-relevant game as part of our RPP experience.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 3, 2023
  3. It is a well-documented challenge to keep students engaged and motivated in out-of-class activities. More students now have part- or full-time jobs and less time to study. Supporting their academic growth and success requires acknowledging the higher commitments to the jobs while providing appropriate mechanisms to make the best use of their available times. This paper presents a mobile educational platform, Dysgu, that aims to engage students in out-of-class activities. An initial study completed on this platform investigates the role of peer influence to increase student engagement in an early college class. Data indicates students prefer Dysgu for out-of-class activities compared to traditional pen- and paper-based activities. Students noted that peer influence, in the form of scores compared to the rest of the class, was highly motivating. We also observed more on-time submissions when using Dysgu.
  4. Keeping students engaged with the course contents between classes is challenging. Although out-of-class activities are used to address this challenge, they have limited impacts on improving student's engagement outside the classroom because of the lack of real-time feedback and progress updates. For this reason, these types of activities are less appealing to the current generation of students who feel the pull of instant gratification more intensely. This paper presents a mobile learning system, named Dysgu, which enables students to work on their out-of-class activities, compare their progress with the rest of the class, and improve their self-efficacy. The goal of Dysgu is to better engage students with out-of-class activities and reduce procrastination in those activities. By using Dysgu, faculty can facilitate and monitor learning even after the students leave the classroom and intervene early when students fall behind their peers.
  5. The majority of Computer Science courses frequently use out-of-class activities to promote skill-building. Yet, the shortcomings of these activities limit their applicability in improving students' skills. This poster presents an innovative mobile-app-based approach to engage students in out-of-class activities. The app - Dysgu - builds on the theories of social learning and enables instructors to break regular out-of-class activities into smaller and interactive entities with instructional scaffolding. Dysgu allows students to compare their progress with their peers and provides personalized notifications and feedbacks to keep students engaged. The goal is to improve student's self-efficacy and engagement in out-of-class activities.
  6. It is believed that if students are well engaged in the learning process within the classroom, they will continue the learning process independently outside the classroom. To facilitate such out-of-class learning, there is a plethora of traditional techniques with a variety of learning theoretical backgrounds. While out-of-class activities based on these techniques have shown to improve a student’s overall quality of learning, traditional activities lack the supervision, instant feedback, and personalization that the current generation of students expects. With the rising cost of college tuition, many of today’s students are working more hours outside of an educational setting and therefore need more supervision and encouragement than their predecessors. These factors make traditional out-of-class activities not effective to achieve the desired level of student learning and engagement outside the classroom. The faculty needs to rethink ways to redesign traditional out-of-class activities to make these activities more effective for this generation of students. This paper presents a review of the literature on and categorization of traditional out-of-class activities. The paper also discusses the results of a survey of what the faculty is doing to engage and continue student learning outside the classroom. Finally, the paper presents a new way of designing andmore »delivering out-of-class activities that have the potential to increase student engagement with the help of instructional scaffolding, interactive activities, and personalization and adaptation.« less
  7. This research to practice work in progress paper will present a mobile learning environment, called Dysgu (`learning' in Welsh), which will provide enhanced learning experience outside the classroom. The Dysgu environment provides students with interactive and motivating out-of-class activities and accommodates personalization and adaptation to satisfy students' specific needs. This system employs a novel approach by incorporating engaging factors, such as interactive activities, adaptive mobile technology, social networking, and gamification to overcome the shortcoming of traditional out-of-class activities. Dysgu allows personalization to support student's study needs and adapts to student behaviors, class dynamics, and difficulty of the out-of-class activity. By having a mobile interactive learning environment, faculty will be able to facilitate learning even after the students leave the classroom and intervene early when students fall behind their peers.
  8. Keeping students engaged with the course content outside the classroom is a challenging task. Since learning during undergraduate years occurs not only as student engagement in class, but also during out-of-class activities, we need to redesign and reinvent such activities for this and future generation of students. Although active learning has been used widely to improve in-class student learning and engagement, its usage outside the classroom is not widespread and researched. Active learning is often not utilized for out-of-class activities and traditional unsupervised activities are used mostly to keep students engaged in the content after they leave the classroom. Although there has been tremendous research performed to improve student learning and engagement in the classroom, there are a few pieces of researches on improving out-of-class learning and student engagement. This poster will present an approach to redesign the traditional out-of-class activities with the help of mobile apps, which are interactive and adaptive, and will provide personalization to satisfy student's needs outside the classroom so that optimal learning experience can be achieved.