Using Miro to Enhance Students’ Online Engagement and Learning in a Science Communication Module

Amelyn THOMPSON and Brenda YUEN
Centre for English Language Communication (CELC)

Amelyn and Brenda discuss their experience of using the digital whiteboard Miro to facilitate real-time online discussion and collaboration activities during online tutorials for their science communication module.

Photo courtesy of Miro
Thompson, A. A., & Yuen, B. P. L. (2022, Aug 29). Using Miro to enhance students’ online engagement and learning in a science communication module. Teaching Connections.

Incorporating Miro Into a Science Communication Classroom

The COVID-19 pandemic paved the way for more strategic use of learning technology to promote students’ engagement in online learning environments. In the module SP1541 “Exploring Science Communication through Popular Science”, we leveraged one of the tools in the NUS Blended Learning 2.0 Initiative1, a real-time collaborative digital whiteboard called Miro. It serves as an online space conducive to discussion and collaboration to help students learn actively online (Meyer, 2014).

Figure 1. Technology-enhanced learning tasks using Miro.

As the module’s key learning outcome is to communicate scientific concepts effectively to educated non-specialist audiences, we implemented technology-enhanced learning tasks using Miro in Semester 2 of AY2021/22 for the discussion and analysis of published science news articles during Zoom tutorials (Figure 1). On the whiteboard, students worked in teams to analyse and annotate texts, engage in writing practice, and provide peer feedback.

Team-based templates were created for students to organise their discussions in breakout rooms (check out the examples, presented as animated screen captures in Figures 2a and 2b). Structured discussions with guided prompts, which students value as an important engagement strategy, can lead to more in-depth comprehension (Martin & Bolliger, 2018). These templates also served as visual aids when students presented their ideas in the main room and directed attention by focusing on various parts of the templates. This online space became a depository in which students revisited the curated whiteboard at any time.

Figure 2a. Understanding assessment criteria through whole-class collaboration (click on the image to view the animated screen capture).

Figure 2b. Evaluating the effectiveness of communication strategies in teams (click on the image to view the animated screen capture).

Enhancing Online Engagement When Using Miro 

Higher education research suggests the use of learning technology promotes student engagement (e.g. Bond et al., 2020; Chen et al., 2010; Fan & Di, 2020; Fonseca et al., 2014). Engagement is defined as “energy and effort” expended by students in their learning community, observable through “a range of indicators” (Bond et al., 2020, p. 3). In search of these indicators when exploring the collaborative outcomes of these tutorial discussions, we adopted Redmond et al.’s (2018) online engagement framework for higher education (Figure 3)2. Redmond et al. (2018)’s framework extends the traditional definition of engagement as established by Fredricks et al. (2004), which typically considers the behavioural, cognitive, and emotional dimensions, by adding collaborative and social dimensions. Collaborative engagement relates to engagement in collaboration with peers and instructors in academic activities like discussions, groupwork or assessment to develop professional relationships; social engagement involves participation in informal interactions beyond the classroom to build community and trust among peers and instructors (Redmond et al., 2018).

Figure 3. Redmond et al.’s (2018) online engagement framework.

The following templates indicate evidence of various dimensions of online engagement:

Cognitive and emotional engagement: Students evaluated the effectiveness of communication strategies in making concepts accessible for readers through metaphor and analogy. Figure 4 shows how Miro allows for cognitive and emotional engagement. Cognitive engagement is evident as students critically evaluated and commented on the quality of the strategies in the green boxes. Emotional engagement is indicated by students’ creative use of stickers and emojis to express their enthusiasm and communicate emotions like agreement and disapproval in their learning process.

Figure 4. Cognitive and emotional engagement are reflected in Miro during the evaluation of science communication strategies (metaphor and analogy).

Cognitive and collaborative engagement: Each team evaluated a published science news article using a criterion-referenced rubric for science news articles (Yuen & Sawatdeenarunat, 2020). This analysis helped students understand the criteria and standards of their assessment task. Figure 5 illustrates students’ cognitive and collaborative engagement through interacting with their peers and instructor.

Figure 5. Cognitive and collaborative engagement are reflected in Miro during the evaluation of a news article using a criterion-referenced rubric (click on the image to view the full-sized version).

Cognitive, collaborative and behavioural engagement: After identifying missing information from a published news article, each team produced a paragraph to address the information gaps (Figure 6). Cognitive and collaborative engagement were evident as students used Miro to synthesise and integrate relevant information from supplementary texts. Students provided constructive feedback to other teams, demonstrating behavioural engagement through peer support and encouragement.

Figure 6. Cognitive, collaborative and behavioural engagement reflected in Miro during team-based writing practice with peer and teacher feedback (click on the image to view the full-sized version).

The two major types of online engagement we identified appeared to be corroborated with the types that students perceived. Student feedback showed they valued Miro for enhancing cognitive and collaborative engagement in the classroom and beyond as a review tool (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Students’ quotes highlight the value of Miro.

Moving Forward

Although getting familiar with Miro and creating customised templates takes time and practice, the use of this learning technology provides valuable data which would be unavailable in traditional contexts. Henrie et al. (2015) stress that technology allows teachers to revisit real-time interactions in the system. The use of Miro has shown evidence of students’ online engagement especially with the cognitive and collaborative dimensions. However, social engagement remains elusive as Miro was used for synchronous academic activities. It could be worthwhile to extend its usage asynchronously to allow for informal interactions.

Regarding implementation, technology-enhanced learning could be more impactful if integrated in the early years of university (Martin & Bolliger, 2018). This is the case with SP1541, a common core writing module for science students in their first two years. It is worth investigating further how this technology-enhanced learning experience can facilitate online engagement and deep learning (Hattie, 2015) in face-to-face or hybrid learning environments.


Amelyn THOMPSON is an Instructor at the CELC, where she has taught undergraduate courses in academic writing and science communication. She is interested in technology-enhanced learning to improve students’ engagement. Her experience and interests also include teaching and learning Baba Malay, which is an endangered language spoken by the Peranakan Chinese community in Singapore.

Amelyn can be reached at

Brenda YUEN is a Senior Lecturer at the CELC, where she has taught and coordinated undergraduate courses in science communication, academic writing, and critical thinking. She has also been involved in the development and validation of university-wide English language proficiency and placement tests in Hong Kong and Singapore. Her research interests include technology-enhanced feedback for student learning, language testing and assessment, particularly rubric validation using Rasch modelling.

Brenda can be reached at


  1. Blended Learning 2.0 @NUS aims to provide an opportunity to design/redesign modules and courses through the flexible and meaningful integration of face-to-face teaching with online learning; and engage students to integrate and deepen their knowledge base through both face-to-face and online instructions. More info can be found on the BL 2.0 website.
  2. It is an interdisciplinary classification derived from a systematic analysis of past literature to redefine engagement in online learning environments.



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