How to inspire active student engagement by leveraging technology in meaningful ways

12 April 2023 | By Juliana Finegan

Host of the “Educator Pineapple Podcast,” Juliana Finegan sits down with mentor and education consultant Liz Arney to share her role in the evolution of blended learning and how the pedagogical approach can help educators move beyond engagement to “active engagement” among students.    

Education consultant Liz Arney didn’t intend to pivot her career when a supervisor first approached her to lead “hybrid learning work.” Back then, she didn’t even really know what hybrid learning was. But her deep expertise in curriculum development made her an excellent candidate to help shape the future of learning — with technology.    

“They called me the ‘Hybrid Learning Champion,’ which was a horrible title,” said Arney, who has over 20 years of experience working in schools. “And yet when I asked my supervisor ‘Why do you want me to do this? I don’t know tech,’ they said ‘You’ve spent so much time on instruction and curriculum, that you will not mess it up with technology and let it get in the way of learning.’” 

Today, the pedagogical approach of using technology to strategically engage learners and build teacher capacity is better known as “blended learning.” Still, Arney was setting foot into new territory at the time. 

With the excitement of using technology in the classroom growing, the industry became rife with districts making misguided and lofty investments, peddled by false promises about technology’s impact. 

Arney’s non-tech background allowed her to rise above the hype and shift focus to touring schools that were successfully addressing instructional challenges by using technology purposefully — not just sitting students at a computer station to “mess around” in different programs. 

What she saw was a systematic, structured approach to using tech to foster engaged learning. When used intentionally, educational technology can move students’ passive engagement to active engagement, to create meaningful learning experiences.  

While the definitions of student engagement vary among experts, we generally refer to a student who shows attention to the area of focus, participates actively in learning, and spends the right amount of time on the task at hand. 

“That helped others and me envision that if we’re really, really purposeful about when and where we use the technology and for what purpose, we can make magical things happen,” Arney said. 

Listen to the full episode of the “Educator Pineapple Podcast” featuring Liz Arney, here or watch the full episode below.

A new era of education is here. 
Want to learn more about how today’s educators are leveraging educational technology to design flexible, personalized learning experiences for all learners? Download the latest guide from Vivi: “Moving Away from the Front of Class.”