Wednesday, November 26, 2014

If they’ve got the tools, let them speak...

Looking at articles and research that have appeared in the last couple years, there has been much discussion about emerging technologies that will heighten student engagement.  In recent visits to schools, we’ve been hearing a lot of talk about new student response systems.  Boy, has this technology come a long way from clickers, and before that, an even longer way from the old “raise your hand”. And these systems work.
“Citing a number of research studies, the benefits of using a student response system have been highlighted... In summary, such systems provide an immediate source of feedback for the academic and student, rapidly identifying areas of misunderstanding. Moreover, there is improved student interaction, engagement, active-learning, and participation. Significantly, students are enthusiastic towards their use and there are potential improvements in student learning and they drive increased levels of advance preparation.”  Paul Dervan, 2011 [Increasing in-class student engagement using Socrative (an online Student Response System)]

While there are now many online student response systems, Plickers is a free student response system, downloaded as an Android or iOS app, that requires no electronic devices in students' hands.  Each student holds a piece of paper showing their answer (as a barcode) to the multiple choice question; the barcode is scanned by the teacher's smartphone. The teacher gets a real-time bar graph showing the results.

Edmonton Public Schools wrote a great blog post about using Plickers instead of the “old” clickers.  The post describes how Plickers can be used, how it works and what you need to get started.  There is a short video at the end to show a teacher using Plickers in the classroom.

Along with the new student response systems, backchannels are being used to engage students in synchronous discussions in parallel with ongoing activities in the classroom. As mentioned in this Edudemic article about backchanneling, there are many different ways you can use a backchannel to open up a conversation to all students in class and expand on any discussion.  Depending on the technology in your classroom, you could use Twitter, Today’s Meet, or Google Moderator or a number of others.

Beth Holland also wrote a great article for edutopia, describing how backchanneling can give all students a voice, capture curiosity and capture the ideas that students have but are not always willing to share in class.

If you are looking for a few ideas to start backchanneling in your classroom, try out this article, which includes ten ways to use backchannels.

The Langwitches Guide to Backchanneling provides planning considerations, skills learned and Bloom’s taxonomy points

Still need more information? Visit Create, where we have collected teacher resources about using student response tools and backchannels.  We have included articles about Plickers, Poll Everywhere, Socrative and more.