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Re-Engaging Students

How Apricot Re-Engages Students:

Apricot’s provision has been developed specifically to re-engage reluctant learners, especially those who find mainstream education uninspiring. Our programmes of re-engagement are designed for unwilling learners. The highly participatory nature of lessons also helps those with learning difficulties. (Some of what follows derives from Adding Some Tec Variety by Curtis Bonk and Elaine Khoo.)

With more than 300 enrollments, only 4 students have not engaged with Apricot's online learning. In order to encourage engagement from the start, we rely on several strategies:

  1. Students enjoy an environment that is personal, safe, and comfortable. This is accomplished through the relationships forged with our teachers and with a simple, easy to use platform.
  2. Students are encouraged at every point in their journey. Students receive positive feedback verbally in lessons and visually through achievements and teacher comments on the learning platform.
  3. Students stay curious. Lessons can have little surprises, a bit of intrigue, and some mysterious unknowns. Students love to be detectives!
  4. Students need variety within lessons. This can include some “fun” learning activities, PPT slides, scavenger hunts through virtual breakout rooms, video, research, working with whiteboard tools, taking polls, multimedia activities, etc.
  5. Students want and need to exercise some autonomy. We make sure to provide them with opportunities to make their own choices, exert some control over the whiteboard, and generally beflexible in lessons to accommodate this aspect of their personal growth.
  6. Students need to feel that what they are learning is relevant to their lives. Teachers make explicit connections from their subject areas to the real world. Teachers not only model making associations, but actively encourage students to do the same.
  7. Student interactions keep them engaged. Lessons are collaborative and highly participatory in nature. Most of Apricot’s teachers have received both internal and external training on Teaching and Learning Online with the specific goal of enhancing lessons with more and more interactive activities.
  8. Students need to produce work and see results. Apricot’s curriculum is learning objective driven and purposefully engenders student ownership of their work. Feedback is swift and positive. Even incremental progression is celebrated at Apricot in order to keep students motivated and happy.

Students are simultaneously anonymous and autonomous. Anonymity allows anxious students opportunities for participation that are safe. One student recently said that she wasn’t afraid to answer questions and risk getting them wrong because she knew no one could see her. The anonymity of the online environment has been a significant contributing factor to our successful work with learners who lack confidence in their abilities and has enabled us to improve education outcomes for those otherwise reluctant to learn by affording them to make rapid progress. The degree to which students choose to participate grants them a kind of power that is often lacking in mainstream environments. We find there are enough ways to participate (microphone, chat box, interactive whiteboard, multimedia activities, web tours) that every student finds their niche and takes advantage of this opportunity to own their learning process.

Learning programmes are broken down into small “bytes,” allowing learners to achieve quickly and regularly. The ability to recognise their achievements regularly is also highly motivating for them.

Our teachers are accustomed to addressing complex needs and challenging behaviours. Our work with PRUs, BESDs, hospital and outreach services, inclusion services, schools and academies has exposed our teachers to a diverse scope of reasons for non-attendance and lack of achieve in mainstream provision. They are experienced in engaging reluctant learners and in compensating for the gaps left by long periods of absence from education.