Using Student Response Systems

There’s an interesting post by James Lang over here, giving an honest and really practical account of how to use student response systems in class.  While Lang doesn’t intend the post to be technical, it offers some very practical ways of how to implement their use.

icon-student-appIn most cases, universities and classes have gone away from whole-sale purchasing ‘clicker’ devices, and relegated access to such services to a platform internet service (such as Polleverywhere or Socrative) and the use of student’s own laptop or mobile devices.  Most of these services provide a free level of service that can change the way conversations and some instruction happen in just about any course.

It’s not quite fair to post an article or even refer to a really good one and not tried this myself – and I have. In my experience, I’ve tried using PollAnywhere – at the free level – just to see what kinds of responses and interactions might improve the teaching and learning in my context.  In many cases, its really opened up the depth of conversations we have – allowing me to prod students to ask – “Why?” and “What conclusions can you make?” inquiries.  In most of my experience before, too many of my students were all too happy to just sit back and ‘take in’ the whole class – and essentially ‘participate’ by saying ‘I agree’ or providing a minimal head nod once in a while.

While use of student response systems (or any technology for that matter) is not the one all to be all and save all – it’s another method that can assist and support what you’re already doing in your course.

If you’d like to try using some kind of SRS, or just want some direction on where to go with this concept, contact Dave Eveland with the Department of Online Education.

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F2F or Online Presentation Engagement

Looking for a quick easy and FREE (did we say FREE) synchronous way to engage students actively in a course presentation?  What if you did so by having students raise their hands?  Doesn’t sound revolutionary does it? Ok fine.

What about trying Slido?  Or perhaps try other similar tools like it, such as Socrative, Poll Everywhere or Mentimeter? While the notion of getting students to engage more during a presentation may be alien, odd or just undesireable by instructors; providing opportunities for students to engage does help with knowledge retention.  Providing students a chance to pause, check for understanding and/or take them from passive consumers to active listeners adds value and can add interest and increase the level of participation in a lecture.

Tools like Slido – especially when paired with the notion that almost every student has an Internet capable device (which they often have with them in class) – can help students engage in lectures more, helping to inform you of their grasp of concepts, drive more focused discussion or help you to clarify areas of confusion.

Could this be done with a show of hands? Yes.

However, doing so also means some students may raise their hand (or not) based on peer choices, or simply raise their hand to demonstrate participation (but not honestly answer the question).  A raise of hands is also harder to visually quantify, and it’s harder for students to look around and tangibly recognize a majority or minority of respondents on a multiple choice question.

While these platforms are not a silver bullet, they do a pretty decent job of providing a very easy, low-tech (you often only need to convey a code to students, and then pose the question in a face to face setting) to get this to work.

For more information check out the videos from the sites above or check with Dave E. with the Department of Online Education.