May 16, 2018

Classroom Management in the Digital Era (Part 3): Student Engagement Strategies

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

This report was originally published in French. The text was adapted to include some examples of pedagogical approaches from English colleges.

What should teachers do with cell phones, tablets and computers in their classroom? Is it more judicious to ban them, regulate their use or to integrate them into learning activities?

The omnipresence of mobile devices raises questions about how to react when faced with these potential distractions. Many teachers are wondering if and how they should intervene.

This featured report on Classroom Management in the Digital Era is divided into 3 parts. Each part corresponds to a step in the support process that Jean-Luc developed as a pedagogical counsellor. Once you have read the different parts, you will be able to:

  • Set limits for the use of mobile devices by students, while respecting your values and maintaining the desired atmosphere in the classroom (Part 1)
  • Determine your approach to classroom management and identify appropriate teaching strategies and tools (Part 2)
  • Discover strategies for student engagement with digital tools (Part 3)

This 3rd part of the featured report will offer you strategies to explore in order to help support student engagement. Each strategy will be illustrated with concrete practices from college teachers who use digital tools to bolster their approach.


At the end of this 3rd and final part of the Featured Report, you should be able to:

  • Better define the concept of engagement in an educational context and its role with regards to implementing a learning atmosphere that promotes student success
  • Explore pedagogical strategies to support student engagement
  • Find some inspiration from the practices of teachers in the college network who are using digital tools to engage their students

Overview: From Classroom Management to Student Engagement

The concept of classroom management can be traced back to the 1980s. Since then, the learning, teaching and technology integration context in the CEGEPs has significantly evolved. Educational research has shown that the planning and scripting of courses constitute a significant development within the learning landscape. In an article published in French in 2001, Roch Chouinard affirmed that “proper planning in teaching is the foundation of effective classroom management.”

Since the first decade of the new millenium, the paradigm shift from teaching to learning has lead teachers to offer learning and evaluation situations that promote student engagement and success. This transition has also had an impact on the teachers’ needs for support and accompaniment.

When teachers send me a request for pedagogical support and accompaniment, our discussions usually gravitate around strategies for pedagogical innovation or strategies that promote student success.

Classroom management can be an underlying concern, but the strategies that we discuss don’t necessarily lead down that path. Above all, we work to implement strategies for student engagement, notably using digital tools.

Jean-Luc Trussart [Translation]

For this reason, in the final installment of this Featured Report we propose an approach in which ICTs are not considered as a potential distraction that must be managed by the teacher, rather, they can be a driving force for educational engagement and the motivation of students.

The concept of engagement

There is no arguing that engagement is the key to success for many students. But what is it exactly?

In education, engagement is a polysemic concept, which has a wide range of definitions and interpretations.

Gaëlle Molinari et al. (2016) [Translation]

CAPRES produced an exhaustive report that offers multiple means to increase perseverance and success in higher education [in French]. Student engagement is part of this. It is defined by elements such as:

  • Developing a feeling of belonging to a program of studies
  • The time and effort invested in learning activities
  • The respect for rules and instructions
  • Positive interactions with teachers and other students

This description sheds light on the multidimensional nature of educational engagement. The majority of works on the observed forms of engagement and perseverance in higher education fall into 3 categories:

  • The cognitive dimension
  • The affective dimension
  • The behavioural or socio-relational dimension

The 3 dimensions of educational engagement and their demonstration by students, excerpted from the Tableau synthèse sur le concept d’engagement du Conseil supérieur de l’éducation (2008). Source [PDF in French].

Therefore, engagement is not only a frame of mind. It translates into the action students take during the course of their learning, as part of their behaviour in class, etc. This is what distinguishes it from motivation.

In an article published in the Pédagogie collégiale journal in the spring of 2014, Séverine Parent, an Educational Advisor at Cégep Limoilou and visiting lecturer in Educational Sciences, supports this distinction by making active participation an essential criteria in the definition of educational engagement.

[…] engagement implies that there is a larger stake in action than with motivation. Once the learner is in action, when he or she participates, we can refer to the resulting phenomenon as engagement.

Séverine Parent (2014) [Translation]

Several studies on engagement factors and learner perseverance have been organized. These have led to the creation of theoretical models, like EduFlow (Heutte, 2015), which illustrate certain manifestations of deep cognitive engagement, including:

  • Sustained attention
  • A feeling of “mental fluidity” (learning flows easily)
  • A feeling of satisfaction and well-being that prompts renewed engagement in the  activity for the simple pleasure that it brings the student (autotelism)

You can’t realistically intervene in the intrinsic engagement process of your students directly. On the other hand, you can deploy pedagogical strategies (with regards to the 3 dimensions of educational engagement) that put the winning conditions in place.

Engagement in a digital context

In education, the use of technologies “seems to be recognized, as much by teachers as by researchers, as a strategy that is susceptible to improve engagement” and trigger the motivation of students (Bernet, 2010, p. 22) [Translation].

However, providing ICTs to students does not guarantee that their usage will be adequate and engaging. Isabelle Cabot and Marie-Claude Lévesque remind us, in a study on the integration of ICTs and motivation in French courses (2014), that “it would be erroneous to believe that ICTs are a panacea for motivation problems, since their impact varies […] widely according to the way that teachers use them.” [Translation]

Among the potential downsides, Thierry Karsenti identifies the phenomenon of digital passivity:

[…] digital passivity in education occurs when learners are equipped with all kinds of technological devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones, and so on) but make little educational use of them in class.

Thierry Karsenti (2017)

Therefore, you should reflect upon and plan the integration of digital tools.

Also, technology cannot serve as a substitute for a pedagogical relationship, which is essential for a proper climate within the classroom and which is an important motivational factor (Kozanitis, 2015). That said, technology can support this relationship in many ways, by offering:

  • Facilitated communication between the student and teacher
  • The possibility of accelerating the feedback process while offering more complete and tailored feedback to the student
  • Increased accessibility to content or flexibility in the way that the information is presented (inclusive nature)
  • The possibility for students to take a more active role in the process of constructing knowledge and in the acquisition of new competencies

Technologies can therefore promote student engagement in many ways, but they are not an end in and of themselves:

[…] it’s the type of activities or the context in which the stakeholders use them that ensure the effectiveness and a significant impact on educational engagement.

Emmanuel Bernet (2010) [Translation]

In Educational Practice: Student Engagement Strategies

In light of the 3 dimensions of engagement and the necessity to periodically integrate digital tools, what strategies promote and sustain student engagement?  Here are 6 strategies with examples from Profweb’s Real Life Stories to illustrate.

1. Adopt active and collaborative pedagogical approaches

Students working on a collaborative project (Cégep de Sept-Îles) (Source).

Active learning […] designates a large variety of pedagogical methods that have a common theme of engaging students in a task and helping them reflect on what they are doing (Eison and Bonwell, 1991).

Louis Normand (2017) [Translation]

The active and collaborative pedagogical strategies encourage students to adopt a proactive, constructive or interactive stance, rather than a passive one (Chia et al., 2014). These “generate learning that is deeper or more sustainable” (Normand, 2017) [Translation]. We present some pedagogical methods (in French) that can be used to create engaging active learning scenarios.

Problem-based approach (PBA)

This approach consists of proposing a situational problem for students to resolve in teams. It  supports peer-based learning and autonomous learning.

  • Stéphan Gaumont-Guay, a Physics teacher at the Cégep Limoilou, uses the PBA in an active learning classroom. He encourages students to use their own devices to conduct research in a collaborative manner.  The CCDMD also accompanied 2 teachers in the development of a PBL website in Physics. You can reuse and modify the scenarios according to your own needs. You may also draw some inspiration and create your own problem solving activities for your discipline!

    A team of students researching information using different devices.

Co-construction of knowledge

This includes soliciting the active participation of students in a collective manner, whether to acquire and deepen knowledge of the course content or develop student competencies.

  • Angie Stevens, who taught in the Bilingual Tourism Program (at CEGEPs Limoilou and Champlain-St. Lawrence), created a terminology wiki with her students. Each student was assigned 10 words to research and had to find 3 definitions in the dictionary before rewriting a definition in their own words. This active contribution to the wiki “engaged students in learning the vocabulary of the tourism industry.”

Flipped classroom

This approach allows you to devote class time to the application of theoretical content that the student acquired at home. This way, you can spend your time in class on concrete learning. This approach promotes flexibility, autonomy and the active participation of students.

  • Christian Drouin, a chemistry teacher from the Collège de Maisonneuve, flips his class by creating videos that cover theoretical notions. The students have to watch the videos and take notes before they arrive in class. In class, they carry out different practical activities (exercises, labs, trivia questions, concept mapping) which round out their learning.

    Overview of tools used in the organization and preparation of students prior to attending a class (left) and examples of activities completed in class (right). (Source)

    Students are very happy to be able to study at any time of the day (or night), from wherever they please, and to be able to review the material as many times as they wish! […] In class, they participate, ask questions and – by their own admission – don’t have time to text!!

    Christian Drouin, La classe inversée : un catalyseur de changement! (2013) [Translation]

Active learning pedagogy has a positive impact (in French) on engagement and the motivation of students, but also teachers.

Students are more motivated and more engaged. They see the teamwork as enriching. I have observed a decrease in absenteeism; students can no longer count on course notes from their friends. This has an impact on my own motivation and incites me to change and improve my pedagogy.

Étienne Bourdages, La classe d’apprentissage actif au service de la littérature (2015) [Translation]

2. Emotionally involve students in their learning

In this case, we are calling on the affective and socio-relational dimensions of student engagement within the learning activities.

Establish a bond of trust

The pedagogical relationship can be characterized as “an attitude and a style of interpersonal communication that reflects respect, kindness, interest, and sincere concern.” (Kozanitis, 2015).

The quality of the pedagogical relationship can have a marked effect on students’ affective and cognitive development […]. A positive [Teacher-Student Relationship] also helps students enjoy their studies, increase their resilience with respect to academic success, and reduce the feelings of solitude experienced by some.

Anastassis Kozanitis (2015)

Digital tools can effectively support this approach.

  • Carl Aubut, a Special Care Counselling teacher from the Cégep régional de Lanaudière à Joliette, wanted his students to discuss their professional experiences and the emotional load faced with certain clients or interventions, employing the use of a blog during student internships. In order to establish trust with the students, he used a mixed accompaniment approach where discussions about the profession were made available to the public, but the affective experiences remained a private affair, and were only shared among the students and teacher.

    The students […] experience daily connections with people who are not always easy to deal with, and who may even represent a threat to their psychological integrity. This meeting can become distressing. My role is to reassure them psychologically, and to help them bring out their personal resources that will contribute to the construction of their professional identity. The bond of trust with the teacher is established in this moment, with subsequent supervision meetings that build on these exchanges.

    Carl Aubut, Un blogue pédagogique pour le stage en éducation spécialisée (2011) [Translation]

Game-based approach

This approach also calls on the affective domain by imbuing activities with a positive and playful approach.

  • While creating an introductory pedagogical robotics course, Jean Labbé, a teacher who was at the  Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon at the time, wanted to make the subject matter attractive and accessible to students from any discipline. He added a playful dimension by using programming software that is compatible with LEGO blocks. Throughout the semester, students took part in many group projects to design robots that would sometimes battle each other in friendly competitions.

    We wanted the title and course description to harken back to concepts such as childhood and play, so that they would be associated to something positive. Our objective was to get the student body interested in electronics and robotics using material that is already familiar to them, and which isn’t difficult to understand. We wanted to facilitate the knowledge.

    Jean Labbé, Educational Robotics and Lego: Combining Techniques, Ethics and Fun (2016)

  • A serious topic can also lend itself to a playful approach. Katie Duhamel, a Pre-hospital Emergency Care teacher from the Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup, uses lessons in Moodle to create a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story for her students. These lessons are interspersed with questions that contain automated feedback to help the students to improve their decision-making competencies in emergency situations.

    The students quite clearly notice the playful nature of the lessons; they love it! I often hear the students discussing what they have learned in the lessons amongst themselves. They talk about the choices they made what situations arrived as a consequence of these choices.

    Katie Duhamel, Les leçons de Moodle pour préparer les futurs techniciens ambulanciers paramédics à la prise de décision en situation d’urgence (2017) [Translation]

  • The use of clickers can be a judicious choice to increase student participation in class in a playful way, whether it be to review for an exam, verify that students have understood or to know where they stand on different topics.

    An example of a trivia quiz on Kahoot to verify that students have understood a concept in an English literature course in a playful manner.

  • Video games can be used to provoke an emotional experience for students in order to support deeper and sustainable learning. Johnathan Mina and Pascale Warmoes, who teach at LaSalle College, took advantage of the popularity of video games amongst young adults and their capacity to “strongly engage players within an activity” (Translated from Molinari et a”l., 2016). The games were related to the course content. The teachers accompanied the students through the process of analysing and relating gaming elements with the more abstract concepts that they covered in class.

    This is a new way for students to play a game. We were asking them to be mindful of the experience, to analyze the game, as they would a work of literature or an article. Johnathan found that discussions after playing the game were easier to hold compared to discussions following the reading of a text. Pascale found discussions also very fruitful.

    Johnathan Mina and Pascale Warmoes, Using Videogames to Engage Students in Deeper Learning Experiences (2017)

3. Make the subject matter and learning activities significant for learners

Teaching needs to promote significant learning […] so that the sense and utility are clearly apparent to the student.

Dany Laveault (1995) [Translation]

Make a connection with the aspirations of students or their future profession

The use of authentic situations in the colleges offers a number of possibilities to move from theoretical knowledge to practical situations.

  • At LaSalle College, students from the Fashion Marketing program used a platform named LikiLab [no longer supported] to create an on-line virtual store in their Sales Office or Store Layout course. For this project, students had to take into account their products, their target audience and their established budget, as they would if they were opening a real store: “it is a fictional project, but it could just as easily translate to the “real world.”

    An example of an on-line store created by the students.

    The Liki Lab is motivating for students, who see the result of their work immediately, and this work very closely mimics reality. They create a web page, and as soon as it is activated, they can browse THEIR website. I really feel that this way of working increases my students’ commitment, and they often surpass themselves.

    Natacha Tremblay, Liki Lab and On-line Stores: My New ‘Fave’ in Teaching (2014)

Certain programs and departments implement a guidance-oriented approach to tie the course content to different professions.

  • In the Natural Sciences program at the Collège Shawinigan, a team of teachers developed a series of videos to present the profession that are linked to each of the discipline-related program-specific courses. Each video contains a problem to solve so that the student can make a connection between the course material and the profession that is presented. The videos, exercise files and the answer keys are available in this article (in French).

    It’s a winning formula for the student, who receives information on a number of professions while also allowing them to have a concrete sense of the learning that has taken place in their program-specific courses.

    Nathalie Sirois, Marie-Christine Bélanger and Dominique Simard, Une trentaine de capsules pour favoriser une approche orientante en Sciences de la nature (2016) [Translation]

Cater to the interest of students and call on their personal experience

Many teachers are integrating a pedagogical usage of social media into their courses, whether it be the topic of study or as a communication tool.

  • Andy Van Drom, an English as a Second Language teacher at Cégep Limoilou, uses Twitter to provide students with an opportunity to improve their grammar.
  • Gina Lavine, from Collège Laflèche, created a community of learning on Facebook to encourage her students to practice English.

    The Facebook page for learning English (Collège Laflèche).

  • Gabriel Flacks, a Humanities teacher at Champlain Saint-Lambert, created the NewsActivist blogging platform to encourage his students to express themselves in an engaged way on a variety of contemporary issues. By opting for this approach, writing becomes a significant activity for the students.

    I was much more motivated to write my blog posts than my regular essays because I knew some people would actually read it and my opinion could have a voice. […] I got to work on a subject that really matters to me and it made me care about it even more.

    Nathalie Geukers (student), Empowering Students with Liberal Education and Technology (2017)

4. Integrate inclusive approaches

The use of an inclusive approach has grown considerably in the college network. Universal design for learning (UDL) stems from universal design in architecture. This movement aims to anticipate the particular needs of certain users with reduced mobility by designing adapted physical environments. Over time, these adjustments also benefited a number of users without disabilities. UDL in the educational domain transposes this principle of universal accessibility.

This design seeks to reach all learners: whether they are talented, have some difficulties or they benefit from special education support. Inclusiveness, within the context of UDL, is putting a variety of pedagogical practices into place that aim to promote the success of every student, despite their differences.

Dossier CAPRES, La conception universelle de l’apprentissage (CUA) (2015) [Translation]

Right from the start, the inclusive approach provides an optimal learning environment for all your students, by:

The use of a web site or a learning management system allows you to gather resources for the student all in one place.

Students with learning disabilities (LDs) are increasingly faced with the extensive and varied use of new technologies. In the educational environment, the attraction young people have for ICTs has been used to transform these into tools that encourage and facilitate learning, and that also maximize the impact on academic success.

Adaptech Network, ICTs: Tools for Universal Design for Instruction (2013)

5. Formulate frequent and constructive feedback

“The feedback […] that you offer to students constitutes an essential component of the process of learning. Not only is feedback recognized as a means of ensuring the progression of learning and affecting the motivation of students, it also contributes to maintaining their engagement and supports their perseverance while performing complex learning tasks (Wiliam, 2010).”

La rétroaction (Université Laval) [Translation]

Feedback is the information that is formulated for the student once the teacher has analysed their progression towards attaining the target competency. It draws on explicit traces from student works in one or more learning and evaluation scenarios.

The 3 “P’s” of Evaluation (Côté, 2014)
The student’s product Productions (draft, essay, etc.)
Performances (oral presentation)
The student’s process (any learning approach or work process which demonstrates their progression) Learning portfolio, homework book, collection of sources of inspiration, sketchbook, press clippings, journal, learning roadmap, etc.
The students points or statements The student’s explanation of their learning progression with justifications, self-evaluations.

The feedback informs the student about their strengths, challenges and also proposes some avenues for improvement in order to achieve the target competency. Finally, it is a call to action for the student:  “There is feedback when a student receives the information about one of their actions and s/he uses this information to modify the approach to the task” (O’Brien, Marks and Charlin, 2003) [Translation]. The better the student is informed on their progression and the means to improve, the more engaged they will be in the learning process.

For us, constructive and frequent feedback seems to be an essential strategy for supporting student engagement and success, but it needs to respect certain principles in order to be effective. What’s more, “studies have shown a high degree of learner satisfaction with technological feedback.” (Facchin, 2016) [Translation].

Continuous feedback

This allows you to follow the progression of students through timely formative interventions throughout the project, course or program of studies, as is the case with ePortfolios, for example. Learning management systems (Léa, Moodle) and cloud-based tools facilitate this interactive follow-up.

  • Alain Toutloff, a biotechnology teacher at the Cégep de l’Outaouais uses a blog to support and supervise students during internships, offering them frequent feedback. External stakeholders can also comment on the students’ experience.

    I wanted the blog to be public to allow teachers of the department and the external community to interact and comment. My colleagues accepted without hesitation! This enriched the experience of the students. I think that it is a good source of motivation and recognition for these young people about to join the job market!

    Alain Toutloff, The Blog as a Monitoring Tool for Internships in Biotechnology (2017) [Translation]

  • Johanne Morin from Cégep Limoilou uses a collaborative writing tool and the Comments function to deliver formative feedback within student assignments. This tracking occurs in real-time and teachers can follow the progression of their students throughout the semester.

    An example of formative feedback with a collaborative writing tool.

Audio or video feedback

This approach allows you to personalize and explain your marking in a more detailed way than would be possible with written remarks.

  • Karine Bélair, a teacher from Collégial international Sainte-Anne, and Jean-François Legault, a teacher at the Collège de Valleyfield, share some advice for preparing high-quality audio feedback. They begin by greeting the student with their first name at the start of the recording. This “personal” approach is engaging for the student.
  • It is also possible to capture a recording of your screen during digital marking, which Sylvie Lavoie from the Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon does in order to create audio-visual feedback.

I feel that this approach gives a human dimension to evaluation. […] I give an assignment that is tied to the audio feedback: students must rework their introduction using the audio comments. This makes them more active in the learning and evaluation process.

Jean-François Legault, Audio Feedback To Give Meaning To Marking (2017)

Peer assessment

Peer assessment allows students to take more responsibility and get actively involved in their learning process thanks to a reflective process and the reactions of their peers. This method is recognized for being very effective in a formative approach (Teaching and Learning Services, McGill University, 2018).

  • Mario Plantin, a teacher from Police Technology at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières, uses Moodle to support student peer assessment. Their objective is to make students more active and engaged in the process of learning and evaluation.

Advances in online tools and the spread of cloud computing gives colleges an extremely easy collaboration environment, for both teamwork and regular communications between teachers and students.

Huguette Dupont, AddICTive Tools for Evaluation: Monitoring In-Progress Assignments (2017)

6. Remove the walls of your classroom

The idea of breaking down the walls of a classroom by using ICTs is not a new one: the journal Vie pédagogique dedicated an issue to this idea in 2004. The rapid evolution of technologies and new means of communication are still a hot topic in education. In October 2017, CIRTA organized a conference related to this theme.

Thanks to digital tools, the distinction between being present or at a distance is becoming more and more blurred. The boundaries between virtual and physical classrooms are less and less present (Dillenbourg, 2008), learning activities must be reconsidered […]. From a perspective of sharing, openness and collaboration, breaking down the walls of the classroom leads to enriching experiences.

CIRTA Call for Papers (2017) [Translation]

This strategy includes offering learning opportunities to students outside of the classroom, which can boost their engagement in learning activities or increase their sense of belonging to their college. This extension of the classroom can occur in virtual or physical spaces.

Extending the classroom to a virtual space

Mobile learning allows the student to continue their learning where and when they choose, by accessing or creating content with the help of their mobile device (UNESCO, 2013).

  • Ian Murphy, a teacher from the music department at the Cégep de Drummondville, created close to 20 digital books with interactive exercises and automated feedback. This allowed his students to practice their instrument and perfect their learning at their own pace and convenience, without the constraint of whether the devices or learning material were available, or not. The music program completed its shift to BYOD in 2012.

    Before this change in approach, our students did not have the necessary resources to practice or review the material between classes. […] Now, the iPad makes these recordings available anywhere at any time. We even see students doing their exercises outside, in front of the CEGEP. Since everyone has access to their own copy of the material, the tasks are that much easier.

    Ian Murphy, Music, eBooks and Notes at the Tip of Your Fingers! (2015) [Translation]

A blended course approach allows you to combine the advantages of in-person teaching with distance education.

  • Chantale Giguère, a French as a Second Language teacher at Dawson College, alternates between in-class meetings and virtual real-time sessions where everyone attends at a distance during the semester. This formula can help certain students to express themselves in French, with the chat window or webcams, and may provide more opportunities for interaction than in class.

The creation of on-line communities of learning also transfers the socio-relational dimension of educational engagement to a virtual environment.

  • Lyly Lessard, an English as a Second Language teacher at the Cégep de Rimouski, created a blog for students to practice their grammar. Each student had to create a video tutorial with exercises for their peers, which Lyly would assign as homework. She asked her students questions in the comments area and observed that the conversation would carry on between the students.

    This activity allowed us to create a place for asynchronous exchanges. The English course therefore continues outside of the classroom and everyone can visit it at their convenience. The students are a lot more comfortable expressing their opinion on a blog than orally in front of everyone else. Introduced in the second week of the course, this activity allowed us to create positive links between the individuals and created a positive environment in class.

    Lyly Lessard, G Suite For Education: Collaboration-Based Pedagogy (2016) [Translation]

  • Lisa Deguire, an English as a Second Language teacher at the Cégep de Jonquière, worked on establishing an on-line network of learning, first by getting the students from her college to work with students from another CEGEP, then by getting her students to discuss with anglophones around the world. The students used web-based videoconferencing to communicate with their discussion partner, which allowed them to practice their second language in a context that was both concrete and motivating.

    Students from the Cégep de Jonquière and the Cégep d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue participate in a real-time (synchronous) communication exercise.

    This experience was incredible! I had such a wonderful time doing this activity, and I can’t wait to do it again. I had the pleasure of speaking to a retired British journalist named Jen. We talked about plenty of different subjects during our one-hour-long conversation […]. Jen really appreciated my enthusiasm the whole way through.”

    Testimonial from one of Lisa’s students

Extending the class elsewhere in the college

A veritable extension of the classroom, the college library is more and more becoming a crossroads for learning that not only offers digital documentary resources, but also the layout, technologies and infrastructure for supporting the development of student competencies.

[…] the vision of the college library is to shift from a place to find books to a place where students and teachers are actively supported.

Angie Stevens, How ICTs Are Changing the College Library and Expanding Our Classrooms (2017)

Many colleges are making their libraries a veritable living space for students by wagering on an open and collaborative layout.

Students don’t just come to the library to refer to a document or work on an assignment. They come to socialize, exchange with others on their work, play different board games […] The students are getting used to the place like they would a café for going to study, read and discuss.

Alexandra Lavallée, La bibliothèque un milieu de vie (2015) [Translation]

An open and collaborative space within Champlain Saint Lambert’s library.

Angie Stevens, an Education Advisor at Champlain St-Lawrence, interviewed several actors from the college network to hear their testimonials on the repositioning of libraries during this transition within the digital era.

Our college libraries are becoming an extension of the classroom, providing services and expertise that are absolutely crucial for the success of our students.  I invite you to learn more about the library at your college – I am sure you are in for a pleasant surprise!

Angie Stevens, How ICTs Are Changing the College Library and Expanding Our Classrooms (2017)

This transition happens more generally as part of the colleges’ desire to enter into “a relationship of reciprocal engagement, with the establishment in terms of the student’s success, and the student using the means at their disposal to succeed” (Conseil supérieur de l’éducation, 2008). [Translation]

Perceiving CEGEPs as a living space is so important that those establishments who are engaged in developing distance education consider that student services and the possibility to socialize on campus are key factors for success. Students can even recreate this socialization at a distance.

We are witnessing the creation of small communities of practice and networking. If the study platform is a virtual campus, these groups represent the social component, which is just as important.

Geneviève Bernier, iLaSalle Campus (2015) [Translation]

In closing, we would be remiss not to mention the importance of involving teachers in the process of creating a living space that promotes student engagement. In this regard, we invite you to take part in the reflection process in your college concerning the configuration of the learning spaces so that you and your students may benefit from an optimal and engaging environment for teaching and learning.


In light of this report, should we still be talking about classroom management in the digital era or would it be more appropriate to talk about engagement strategies for students that are supported by digital tools?

With all the opportunities that digital tools provide, we believe that the time has come to move from a “reactive” classroom management approach, based on managing the environment and behaviour of students, to an active or even proactive approach in order to establish an engaging classroom environment for the students. The 6 strategies we have presented offer an initial path, but you may also:

  • Emphasize the planning and continuous improvement of your learning and evaluation scenarios. Why not ask your students about their perception of the activities?
  • Harmonize your pedagogical strategies according to the requirements of your discipline and the needs of your students, using the 3 dimensions of educational engagement

We sincerely believe that the implementation of engagement strategies for students constitutes a promising avenue to support students’ perseverance, success and completion of studies, while also improving the learning experience throughout their studies.

Would you like to share your personal strategy for engaging students with digital tools? Feel free to get in touch with the Profweb team!

Useful References

The concept of engagement in a digital context

Pedagogical strategies for student engagement

Active and collaborative learning

Inclusive approach

Evaluation and feedback

About the authors

Jean-Luc Trussart

A secondary school teacher, then pedagogical counsellor at the Cégep régional de Lanaudière à L’Assomption, for more than 10 years, he has accompanied teachers and learning establishments in the:

  • Adoption of diversified pedagogical practices;
  • Rollout of programs that promote student success; and
  • Coordinated integration of digital tools

Throughout his professional path, Jean-Luc has utilized his creativity to propose coherent, efficient and effective pedagogical solutions, while simultaneously mobilizing key players within the organization.

Andréanne Turgeon

Andréanne Turgeon was an editor with Profweb from 2014 to 2019. Subsequently, she was the organization’s coordinator until it joined Collecto. Since 2021, she has been the director of Collecto’s Digital Pedagogy Services, to which Eductive is affiliated.

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