The LectureTools Blog

Receive a $10,000 Research Grant: LectureTools Clients Now Eligible for Echo360 Active Learning Grants Program

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Wed, May 08, 2013

As a current LectureTools customer, you have first-hand experience of how our digital tools help increase your students’ engagement and participation in the classroom on a daily basis.

Now that we’re part of the Echo360 family, you have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore new ways of using LectureTools and study its impacts, then share your findings with the global community through the Echo360 Active Learning Grants Program!

We’re delighted to announce that LectureTools customers are now eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant offered through this exclusive program. 

One of the new categories is a special LectureTools grant, reserved exclusively for schools currently using our solution in their classrooms. Whether you want to study how you use LectureTools to flip the classroom, boost engagement or assess student participation and understanding through analytics – the choice is yours. 

You can also apply for one of the other new categories making their debut in the 2013 program. For a complete list of grant categories, criteria and previous recipients, visit the website and start making plans for your proposal today!

We encourage all LectureTools customers to take advantage of this unique opportunity and submit their proposals by the deadline of Friday, June 28.

Topics: Active Learning, Benefits of LectureTools for Students, LectureTools News, Learning Outcomes, LectureTools Case Studies, Active Learning Grants

Will MOOCs be the End of the College Campus?

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Wed, February 27, 2013

MOOCs allow students to access courses from anywhere
Photo: Ed Yourdon

From Coursera to edX, “MOOC” has become one of the top education buzzwords of 2013, with some of the most powerful brands in higher education like Stanford, MIT, and the University of Michigan offering courses for free. These Massive Open Online Courses have been growing in number over the past year, and with over 2.7 million “students” on Coursera alone, it is easy to see why MOOCs have become the topic de jour.

With courses being taught online for free from the Harvards, Stanfords, and MITs of the world, will there be a place for the physical college campus experience in the future?

MOOCs share some characteristics of disruptive technologies

Wired notes that MOOCs have certain traits that have traditionally been held by disruptive technologies. MOOCs are serving people who aren’t already enrolled in college, making content free and accessible to those who otherwise would miss out. Additionally, with materials online, students have some flexibility with their schedules that students who must be in a brick-and-mortar room at a specific time do not.

MOOCs also are now at the point where their quality is allowing them to be desirable to “upmarket” users as supporting technologies like bandwidth and online sharing have proliferated. While they are not yet sufficient to meet the needs of many college students, they are beginning to approach a more rigorous standard that will increasingly meet the needs of consumers.


Why MOOCs aren’t ready to replace “traditional” colleges just yet

On paper, MOOCs sound like the revolution in education that we have been waiting for. But it isn’t that simple. While the features of MOOCs – captured lectures, the ability to discuss material with fellow students, and practice assignments – parallel or are similar to the traditional classroom, MOOCs have yet to see the same success.

Most importantly, only a small fraction of students who enroll in MOOCs go on to complete the course. This phenomenon is so pronounced that it caused Richard McKenzie, a UC—Irvine professor, to leave his Coursera “Microeconomics for Managers” course because of his 37,000 students, “fewer than 2 percent have been actively engaged in discussions.”

Professor McKenzie viewed uninformed or superfluous responses from students in discussion forums as an impediment to the learning of the students serious about completing the course. In this arena, MOOCs may not meet the standards of the traditional university because students in many cases may not be coming from the same level of commitment as their college-enrolled counterparts. Without tuition to pay or an official transcript, many who register for MOOCs could be enrolling simply out of curiosity – the stakes are low. Unlike the full-time student in a university who could be wasting tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for not devoting their full attention to a course, a Coursera user can leave a course at any time with no real consequences.

Though some MOOCs are beginning to offer certifications for students who want to prove their work in online courses, even the co-founder of Coursera doesn’t think they will reach the value of a traditional degree from one of the MOOC-provider’s partner institutions.


Lessons from MOOCs that can be applied to higher education via blended learning

MOOCs aren’t ready to replace the classroom experience for the majority of students yet. But, there are a few qualities of MOOCs that can be used in a blended learning class (i.e. combining both face-to-face instruction and online elements) to improve student learning and satisfaction.

Among these are providing ways to students to ask questions and get answers digitally. Personal capture (PCAP) and lecture capture videos are also great resources for students to access when studying after class, even if they are on a physical campus. Ultimately, digital tools and practice problem sets can enhance student learning in any course setup because they increase the opportunities for students to engage with material, think critically, and learn in the way that is most effective for them


How Students Consume Complex Concepts with Blended Learning

Attend our free webinar -- Snacking on Substance: Active Learning Cuts Rich Course Content into Bite-Sized Chunk -- to learn how students at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine consume complex concepts with some help from lecture capture and a student engagement system.

Topics: Active Learning, traditional teaching methods, Online Education, MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, emerging technologies in education, Teaching with Technology, Educational Technology, Web Applications

7 Ways to Study Smarter This Term with LectureTools

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Tue, February 05, 2013

For many college students, another semester is underway. With it comes the juggling act between academics, clubs and sports teams, a part-time job, and – yes, even a social life. Time is a precious commodity, and that’s why LectureTools is an active learning platform designed to help students study more efficiently and learn more.

study session
Photo: presta

Here are a few tips on how to study smarter with LectureTools:


1. Take notes. Review them anywhere, anytime.

When professors cover material in class, take notes with each slide. Having the slide deck provided within LectureTools means you can rely on the course materials for basic understanding and definitions, and focus on examples and in-depth insights when you take notes.

Since notes are stored in the cloud, you can review them from any computer or iPad with an internet connection. Going offline? Print out your notes attached to the slides, or save them as a PDF to save paper (and to save on your printing quota).


2. Ask questions now, not the night before the exam.

The night before the exam is the last time you want to realize something from your instructor’s slides just doesn’t make sense. Even if your professor is quick to reply to your emails, and besides, cramming is probably not going to help you as much as you’d like it to.

Pay attention during class. When you get confused, don’t be shy: submit your question with LectureTools. You’ll get a notification when your instructor or teaching assistant answer your question. And with their help, you’ll already understand the material when exam time rolls around.


3. Check the question stream for Q&A from your peers.

While we’re still on the topic of questions, don’t only worry about your own. LectureTools will anonymously show you questions submitted by your classmates that have been answered by the instructor or TA.

These provide a great way to double-check your understanding – if you find yourself knowing how to answer most of the questions then you are likely in good shape for the exam. If you don’t, revise your study plan accordingly.


4. Practice with the activities from lecture

Re-reading material isn’t a bad idea. But be sure to actually engage with material when you are studying for that test. Chances are, the activities (multiple choice, free response, or otherwise) that your instructor gave as practice during lecture will bear at least some resemblance to future quiz questions.

Make sure, at minimum, you know how to approach the problems already discussed in class and can apply what you learned to other problems.


5. Don’t forget about your bookmarked and confusing slides.

So you marked a slide as confusing, or bookmarked it in LectureTools during class. Great! This will help you down the road and save you precious time during exam week because you are the best judge of which concepts are causing trouble, and which slides are the most important. 

When the time comes to review, filter your slides. Make sure slides that you had marked confusing are no longer a problem, and use the bookmarked slides as a starting point for your studies.


6. Stop keeping your course materials in more than one place

There was once a time when you had to keep track of your notes, quizzes, and slides – and a lot of people just threw them into their backpacks. But you can use LectureTools as a comprehensive place for everything you need to study.

Avoid the need to carry everything around by using the cloud. And don’t even worry about having things spread across different websites and files on your computer. Just keep everything in one organized, central environment.


7. Go mobile with LectureTools for iPad

If your laptop is weighing you down or your school has an iPad initiative, get LectureTools for iPad. The app enables you to take notes and access every feature of the LectureTools web app in the intuitive interface of iPad. Oh, and the best part is that the app is included for free with your subscription.


Hopefully these tips help you ace those exams!

aced the examPhoto: thebarrowboy


teaching with lecturetoolsLearn More About the LectureTools Active Learning Platform

Let us give you a tour of both the student and instructor sides of LectureTools. LectureTools has been shown by the UM CRLT to increase student engagement and attentiveness. If you give students an opportunity to participate, they will.

Topics: Active Learning, Benefits of LectureTools for Students, Educational Technology, Student Note-Taking