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5 Tips on Delivering an Engaging and Interactive Programming Course

7 Feb, 2022





To provide an engaging and interactive programming course, you need a flexible lab environment. You also need to ensure the active involvement of students and enhance collaboration and collaborative learning. Lastly, leverage technology and offer time for students to reflect and practice.

Transitioning to online programming classes is challenging. Most instructors struggle to keep the students engaged while teaching remotely. 

Let’s discuss the 5 ways to offer an engaging and interactive programming course to your students.

  1. Provide flexibility in how students can learn
  2. Ensure active involvement of students
  3. Promote peer collaboration and collaborative learning
  4. Leverage technology
  5. Offer time for students to reflect and practice

1. Provide flexibility in how students can learn

Flexibility in learning ensures that the environment is student-focused and caters to different learning styles. The students should determine the pace and time of the course instead of following a structured timeline. 

Flexible learning has many benefits for students, including:

  • Gives students the freedom to find a balance with the ‘new normal’ between synchronous and asynchronous classes.
  • Allows students to access the course anywhere (home, lunch, while commuting) while listening to lectures
  • Ensures students grasp concepts easily since material is presented in different learning preferences while giving students enough time to digest information and interact with others

You can provide a flexible online learning environment by doing the following:

Allow students to manage their schedules

Allowing students to manage their schedules makes them take ownership of their success with the course. 

By chunking and pacing content, students will be able to plan more effectively towards reports and project deadlines.

Motivate students through peer learning 

Working and studying remotely is hard on many people. By enabling students to share and review codes with their peers, it provides students with active learning experiences for socio-emotional growth and cultivates critical thinking skills. 

Allow students to learn through mistakes and practice coding frequently

Let students review materials and study after any programming and coding mistakes. Programming can be challenging, frustrating and mentally taxing. Therefore, providing flexibility and taking breaks in between allows students to be mentally refreshed, to identify errors and perhaps find a new perspective. 



2. Ensure active involvement of students

Actively involved students stay engaged and master concepts faster. Coding in real-time in a collaborative workspace allows you to build active and direct engagement with your students.  

Allow students to manage their schedules

Additionally, let students interact with their peers through chat or video calls.

Let’s look at how you can ensure active involvement of students.

Motivate students through peer learning 

Working and studying remotely is hard on many people. By enabling students to share and review codes with their peers, it provides students with active learning experiences for socio-emotional growth and cultivates critical thinking skills. 

Allow students to learn through mistakes and practice coding frequently

Let students review materials and study after any programming and coding mistakes. Programming can be challenging, frustrating and mentally taxing. Therefore, providing flexibility and taking breaks in between allows students to be mentally refreshed, to identify errors and perhaps find a new perspective. 

Ensure inclusivity

Inclusivity encourages active involvement. 

Learn about your student’s weaknesses or challenges. You can review student insights through dashboards or encourage students to reach out directly. 

Use inclusive language, including culturally diverse names or gender-neutral pronouns. 



3. Promote peer collaboration and collaborative learning

Peer collaboration and collaborative learning enhance motivation, communication skills, teamwork, and professional development. Blended learning, peer contribution and evaluation, and collaborative programming, promote connection and cooperation

Let’s look at the different ways to enhance collaboration and collaborative learning below.

Use blended learning

You can blend traditional learning with flexible learning to increase collaboration and participation among students. Creating virtual spaces for your students is one way to integrate the old and the new. An online chat group allows students to interact outside classes.

A student can ask a question in the chat group. The teacher can allow other students to respond to promote peer collaboration and can encourage discussion to allow sharing of different points of view. 

Sharing and commenting on ideas is a fun way for students to interact and communicate throughout the course.

Peer contribution and evaluation

Hosting online group discussions is one way of encouraging students to contribute their knowledge. 

Using task-based learning gives students an actual and essential outcome to share with other students. 

On the other hand, let the students evaluate each other’s work. Peer evaluation enhances understanding and the culture of sharing among peers.

Collaborative programming

Collaborative programming is a fun practice where two or more students work together on one programming activity. Students can gain different perspectives and learn from each other. Collaborative programming teaches technical skills and improves communication skills and teamwork.



4. Leverage technology

Leveraging technology improves learning while teaching programming courses. You can code in real-time instead of using slides. 

Code in real-time

PowerPoint slides for discussions are not as effective as coding in real-time with your students. 

Students will learn how you code step by step as you engage them in a discussion. 

While coding, ensure to ask questions for a better understanding. 

Engaging students in your real-time coding helps students share perspectives and practice.

Use conferencing audio and video tools

Hybrid learning is now a new normal. Using audio and video conferencing tools will allow you to transition to online learning. Students can learn from anywhere as long as they log in using their devices. 

Provide instant feedback to students

Allow both instructors and peers to provide instant feedback. These discussions will enhance interaction and allow students to grasp information faster.



Coding Lab

5. Offer time for students to reflect and practice

Students need time to reflect and practice what they have learned. Reflection and practice allow students to translate, process, and synthesise thoughts, hence communicate effectively.

There are benefits of giving students time to reflect and practice what they learn. This can include:

  • Allowing students to communicate ideas to their peers coherently and comfortably
  • Helping students process their understanding hence consolidating their learning and coming up with new ideas

Different factors affect reflection time while teaching students, such as length of time, thinking points, and practice, practice, practice. 

Let’s look at each factor:

  • Length of time for reflection is crucial. A longer break allows students to push past the first thoughts. You need to figure out the balance between covering the course and giving students time to think and practice.
  • Thinking points are strategic pauses while teaching your course. These points help students absorb concepts and get new ideas. Consider which points are best for individual reflection, or in pairs or small groups.
  • Practice, practice, practice we’ve heard about the theory of 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. In coding, the more times you allow yourself to think outside the box when solving a problem, the more effective and productive you are in your understanding of programming.


Provide an interactive and engaging programming course with SIT Alemira!

Delivering an engaging and interactive programming course allows students to grasp concepts and reach their goals. 

One way to deliver an engaging course is by offering flexibility in learning. Achieve flexibility by chunking and pacing content, allowing students to plan more effectively towards reports and project deadlines.

Do you want to offer an engaging and interactive programming course?

SIT Alemira Coding Lab is an interactive lab environment for all programming courses in schools, universities and boot camps. The lab provides a code-centric, developer-friendly course authoring experience and automates student assessments. SIT Alemira Coding Lab is part of SIT Alemira digital ecosystem for education and research. 

Engage your students and deliver an engaging and interactive programming course.



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