Podcast #57

In our first Summer 2017 edtech episode, we talk about classroom response systems, aka clickers. We’re joined by three guests who have each used a different product extensively in their classes. First, Jenny Wissink (Cornell) shares how she uses iClicker to assess students’ understanding of pre-class video. Next, Bonni Stachowiak (Vanguard and the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast) explains why and how PollEverywhere gets students engaged. Finally, Susan Reilly (Florida State, Jacksonville) talks about how much fun her students have with Kahoot! Along the way we tell you what tools might be the best fit in different situations and how to get started with each tool.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:52 Launching #edtechsummer

3:33 What are clickers? Or more generally, what is a classroom response system?

6:19 Why not just ask students to raise their hands?

7:09 About our guests and our goals.

12:48 Jenny Wissink on using iClicker to teach introductory economics courses. Trying to flip the classroom—in part because there was a library of video content for the course. Challenges in getting the students to watch the content beforehand.

18:06 Why choose iClicker? Good on-campus support is not a bad reason. iClicker is currently a hybrid hardware software solution. If you want students to use hardware clickers, the instructor needs to bring and connect a base station to the classroom. With iClicker Cloud it’s a mobile app, too. Jenny didn’t want students distracted by their mobile devices. And students can log in from elsewhere.

22:25 iClicker Cloud lets you restrict answers to a specific physical area (like your classroom). Things get complicated when students mix-and-match clickers and apps.

24:24 The pleasures of motivating students and even helping them make mistakes and chang their minds. iClicker advantage: ease-of-use. How the process actually works. The software version allows a variety of question types, but students with hardware clickers are stuck with multiple choice.

29:24 Getting started. Students can find the clickers on Amazon, for instance. You can also simply engage and interact with the students about social or topical matters. You can use it for attendance.

33:50 Doug used iClicker: It was supported and easy to integrate–there’s no need to set up the questions on the iClicker website. Why stop using it? To reduce his hardware setup to an iPad Pro and a stylus. The iClicker base station doesn’t plug into a tablet or phone.

37:40 Bonni Stachowiak from the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast on using PollEverywhere to help students retain information. Trying to focus students’ attention and building stronger neural connections: RetrievalPractice.org. Getting information OUT of students’ heads, not just into them.

41:59 Using clickers to find out what the students are actually learning. The classic mistake of computer software trainers: “Did y’all get that?” People may not know they are lost or want to admit it. Why PollEverywhere? Her students all have smartphones. Her classes are small enough that she can use the free plan. Sli.do is more generous. Students can be polled anonymously.

46:40 Bonni likes the question type which lets learners pick a spot on an image. Bonnie doesn’t mind her students having their devices out. Since students have their own screens, you don’t need a room with a projector–you can teach outdoors.

51:10 How to get started. Pro tip: Pick a memorable user name.

54:11 Doug didn’t have the time to get into PollEverywhere’s tools for creating questions using mathematical notation.

55:09 Kahoot! is another software-based polling solution, but it presents itself as fun games with animation and music.

56:08 Susan Reilly has been using Kahoot! for over two years. It’s web-based–there’s no app to install. And it’s like a trivia game where speed and accuracy both matter: it’s competitive and fun. You can track students by the screen name they use and give them credit for answering. But when a student uses the screen name “Zeus”…. It can be used to engage students, break up a long lecture, help students understand where they need to study further, and more.

1:01:32 Why not use another tool? Susan found PollEverywhere harder to use than Kahoot! And Kahoot! is just more fun. Students like the music–and earning points, though these can both be turned off.

1:04:28 Susan would like more question types—like open-ended questions. Her students don’t notice the class is over, they’re so involved. And it’s free.

1:07:43 How do you get started? Just go to kahoot.com.

1:09:01 Doug doesn’t see Kahoot! as his cup of tea. Edward plays devil’s advocate. Doug wants to explore Learning Catalytics.

1:11:40 Our next topic in #edtechsummer: digital textbooks. Faculty can also author their own ebook–e.g., instructors in the USC French department collaboratively created a digital workbook. Future topics include games and simulations. Send us suggestions!

1:15:02 Signing off.