Rob Wiltbank - How They Live is How They LearnBy Rob Wiltbank
Web Application Developer / CIS Instructor
Delaware Technical Community College

Retweets, and Thumbs Up, and +1’s, Oh My!

It’s just not Twitter, Google+ and Facebook that are consuming a good deal of our students’ time, but also YouTube, texting, video games, and new media in general.  In the world of education, one of the most difficult obstacles for us to overcome is finding a way to engage our students in a way that is meaningful to them.  We should constantly ask ourselves, “How can we get them to buy in to what we’re teaching?  What it boils down to is that by creating a measure of interest in your lessons that connects to the students on a personal level, you will have greater success in communicating a message they will retain.

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study in 2009 that measured an increase of nearly 30% in the consumption of video games, television and new media by children across a five year period (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010).  Looking at these findings objectively, the correlating trend of benefits is rather unexpected.  Many articles published over the past six years link aptitude in surgical sciences with playing video games due to increased hand-eye coordination development and the experience of kinesthetic learning (Flemming, 2013).  As we immerse ourselves and continue to evolve as a technological and media-driven culture, additional benefits will continue to materialize.

Adaptive Instruction is the Key

But how does this relate back to the classroom and teaching methods?  We’ve all struggled with motivating our class, but with the younger generations in particular, breaking a single project into a series of achievement driven goals will allow them to experience a sense of accomplishment at the completion of each milestone.  Incorporating gamification into your curriculum design will foster a positive attitude towards the content of the lesson and leverage a common learning experience.  Present your material using media-rich lessons to help hold the attention of your students and break up the pace of the class. Well-chosen YouTube videos are one great way to do this. Be current and relevant by including thoughts and insights from the leading minds on today’s topic by finding related tweets and having your students follow them on Twitter.

These examples will give you a good start on innovating new instructional methods that are designed to connect with your class.  By observing your students and asking what types of media they use and enjoy on a regular basis, you will be able to adapt how you teach to how they learn.  If you’re able to capitalize on student engagement opportunities, you greatly enhance their classroom experience and increase their chance of being academically successful.

Have you found any ways to stay connected with your students or meet them where they’re at? Share in the comments.


Flemming, R. (2013, October 11). Surgeons that play video games have better results.Digital Trends. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from…

Rideout, V., Foehr, U., & Roberts, D. (2010, January 1). Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from…

About the author

Rob Wiltbank is the Web Application Developer for Delaware Technical Community College and an adjunct Computer Information Systems instructor at the Wilmington Campus.  He is currently enrolled in Fort Hays State University’s Masters of Instructional Technology program and can be followed on his website and Twitter.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *