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Getting Students to Engage With Digital Learning Materials – 2 Good Strategies

by Kelly Walsh on July 15, 2014


Making Sure Students Really Watch, Listen to, or Read Online Learning Content is Often Cited as a Challenge in the Flipped or Blended Classroom

“How do I make sure my students will watch the video?”

When I discuss flipped teaching and learning with teachers who are just starting to learn about it, after they’ve had a chance to think about it a bit, this is one of the questions they are quick to raise.

I’ve shared some tips for dealing with this in articles like this one, and I get into a bit deeper in the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book. At last month’s FlipCon14 conference, I came across two more great techniques that can help ensure that students sink their teeth into learning content consumption that you assign them as flipped homework. These ideas can also readily apply to most forms of digital learning environment.

WSQ (Watch, Summarize, Question)

Crystal Kirch developed the concept of WSQ, while looking for ways to hold students responsible for watching video content, and actually engage with it. This idea can also be adapted and applied to other types of learning content. She explains her approach to this technique in this post on her “Flipping With Kirch” blog.

“WSQ” or “wisk” is pretty simple idea, but like most ideas, the power of how it is used is in the details and application of it. You can choose how to apply and leverage this as they see fit in their classes. You can also evolve it over time to improve on it and adapt it to changing student and course needs.

WSQ Watch Summarize Question

For a breakout of how each of these elements (Watch, Summarize, & Question) is used check out the article, Getting Students to Watch and Engage With Flipped Videos with Crystal Kirch’s WSQ Technique.

K-W-L (“Know, Want to Know, Learned”)

The K-W-L technique (short for “Know, Want to Know, Learned”) is based on a chart concept developed by Donna Ogle in 1986. Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stages 1 & 2, from Northern Ireland Curriculum, offers this insight into the technique (on page 44)

“This method can be used as an introductory strategy in order for pupils to document their present level of knowledge and what gaps may exist in that knowledge, to structure progress in their learning and to analyse what new information has been learned after research.”

Here we see what a K-W-L chart can look like:

K-W-L Chart

Learn  more about this technique and how it can be used in the Flipped Classroom here: Using the K-W-L Method to Help Ensure Content Engagement in the Flipped Classroom.


Students in the Summer 4 Week Online Flipped Classroom Workshop loved the WSQ method (I included it in a recent week’s learning material). Quite a few of them have gone ahead and incorporated it into a Lesson Plan they drafted for one of their assignments (as for the KWL Chart Technique, I just sent them an article on that yesterday and haven’t received any feedback just yet).

I have no doubt that both of these approaches can prove beneficial in getting students to engage with content and helping to make sure they “do their flipping homework”!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
My Flipped Classroom – I Will Never Teach Another Way Again
Living in Beta and Moon Shot Dreams – Inspired Teaching With @FollowMolly
3 Minute Teaching With Tech Tutorial – Using TedEd for Flipped or Blended Learning Lessons


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded As an education and instructional technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, regularly running Flipped Class Workshops online. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Kelly also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andy Raupp July 19, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I was just at a Google Apps Summit and attended a class where this was a topic of conversation. Teachers implementing the flipped classroom shared various ideas, but none mentioned KWLs. It’s so simple and doesn’t require a lot of prep work, such as creating questions for the students to answer in order to hold them accountable. Thanks for the post!

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