The LectureTools Blog

LectureTools Acquired by Echo360

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Wed, November 07, 2012

 

An Active Learning Platform


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In 2005 Dr. Perry Samson started LectureTools at the University of Michigan as a research project with one goal: to revolutionize the classroom and to engage students with their laptops and cellphones, regardless of class size. 

LectureTools launched commercially in August 2011 and has since been adopted by professors at over 30 universities and colleges across the United States, Canada, and Asia. Today, we are excited to announce that we are joining forces with Echo360, whose lecture capture technology is in use at over 600 schools across the globe and backed by Steve Case's Revolution Growth.

LectureTools: An Active Learning Platform on Vimeo.

Echo360 provides not only resources, but also a like-minded vision and talented employees that will help us achieve our long-term goal of building an active learning platform that revolutionizes the way people teach and learn using technology in and out of the classroom. This is not the end of LectureTools, rather, a new beginning, and current accounts will not be affected. LectureTools will always exist and it will continue to improve as a stand alone product. It will also be developing an integrated solution with lecture capture and other active learning features. 

We would like to extend a special thank you to our early adopters, who have given us amazing feedback and their continued support. We look forward to continuing our work with you and the Echo360 team.

 

To a new beginning, 

The LectureTools team.

 

Samson is also a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which sold in the summer to the Weather Channel, with a group of former students. LectureTools also sprouted with a dedicated group of recently graduated U-M students including Jason Aubrey, Bret Squire and Sharanyan Ravi. Aubreyco-founder of LectureTools, joins Echo360 as a product manager while Squire and Ravi join as developers. 

We would also like to say thank you to a few key players in the LectureTools story – University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Michigan TechArb, University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer, The National Science Foundation, our advisor Jim Sterken, and the instructors and students who have helped us grow.

 

 

Make your class more interactive: click below and become the next addition to our team!

 

 

 

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Topics: Online Education, LectureTools News, New Features, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, student response, Flipped Instruction, educational networking, The Flipped Classroom

A Supplement of a LectureTools Testimony

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Tue, October 30, 2012

LectureTools: An engaging presentation tool to use in the classroom

Jim Barbour, associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.

Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.

 

While searching for an alternative to clickers to use in his classes, Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, stumbled upon LectureTools.

Run by a five-person team in Ann Arbor, Mich.,LectureTools is an engaging, web-based program that allows instructors to create interactive presentations.

“I was looking for something that was more robust,” Barbour said. “Think of [LectureTools] as a combination of clickers, Facebook and Twitter all rolled into one.”

Special Features

By uploading preexisting PowerPoint presentations to LectureTools, instructors can enhance classroom materials by incorporating multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides. Students can access presentations on their own devices by logging in to the program.

“All of this is like a clicker on steroids,” Barbour said. “But now, you don’t have to keep track of the clickers, and you don’t have to charge them up.”

Instructors can incorporate multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.

Instructors can enhace classroom materials by incorpoarting multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.

 

LectureTools is free for instructors, Barbour said, while students must pay a flat $15 fee at the beginning of the semester.

LectureTools works best on laptops, tablets and smartphones, Barbour said, though students can still participate if he or she has a mobile phone with texting capabilities.

Barbour said out of the seventy-odd students he has had in his LectureTools-based classes, only one did not have a laptop, tablet, smartphone or phone with texting capabilities. Because of this, Barbour is lending his Kindle to the student.

“There are places [students can] checkout [laptops] from the school, so I’ve run into that once out of 74 students,” Barbour said. “It’s probably going to be a problem less and less as we go forward.”

Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.

 Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.

 

While logged in to LectureTools, students can control the view of their individual screens. Students can take notes on the slides, and because the program is web-based, students’ notes are saved online and can be accessed later.

Freshman Michelle Rich, a student in Barbour’s introductory-level economics class, said she likes the flexibility of LectureTools in that it allows her to control what slide is displayed on her screen. She said she likes the interactivity of the technology too, because it helps her to better learn the material.

“LectureTools is helpful, but I am still adapting to this new way of learning,” she said. “I really like how my professor asks us questions through LectureTools because it tests us while we’re learning.”

Students can mark presentation slides as confusing, and they can bookmark slides to review later. Further, students can direct questions to instructors by typing them into a comment box, and professors receive those inquiries instantly.

“It’s another way for me to communicate with the class, and that’s really what I’m interested in because at the core, we are storytelling creatures,” Barbour said. “This allows me to tailor the story as I go to match what the class seems to need. Any good instructor always does that.”

LectureTools records all student activity and converts the data into a report, which is sent to an instructor approximately 20 minutes after class is over.

Students in Barbour's economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.

 Students in Barbour's introductory-level economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.

By Sam Parker 

 

 

To use LectureTools and start increasing engagement in  YOUR classroom click here:

 

 

Topics: Mobile Devices for Education, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Large Class, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, educational networking, Enriching Scholarship Conference, Laptops in Education, Learning Outcomes, The Flipped Classroom

How I Use My iPad as a College Student and Educator

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Mon, September 24, 2012

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I'm currently working on my post-baccalaureate degree in speech language pathology, and I also work around 40 hours a week as both a freelance writer and early literacy tutor. I rely heavily on technology to help me accomplish my academic and professional goals. I can't imagine life without it. My first college experience, in the late 90s, was much different from my current one. I used the computers in the school library to type up my papers, but that was the extent of how I used technology. Now I spend what seems like all day on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop.

Technology can definitely be a distraction at times, but it's mostly a lifesaver. I don't think I'd be able to work and study as effectively as I do without the help of my laptop and iPad. My iPad has been a particularly useful tool over the last couple of years. I use it in a million different ways in my day-to-day life. On an average day, here are some of the ways I use my iPad as a student, writer, and educator:

1. I check my class assignments on Blackboard while riding the subway to school to make sure I've completed them all. (I usually have).

2. I use my Evernote app to take notes in class and organize those notes. When I know a lecture is particularly important or just don't have the energy to take notes, I record what my professors are saying with a neat little app called Audiolio.

3. In between classes, I'll read eTextbooks for my courses. Unfortunately, not all my textbooks are available in eTextbook format. So, I do have to put my iPad aside every once in a while and crack open an old-fashioned book.

4. All of my classes are scheduled in the mornings. When I'm done with them I ride home on the subway and use my iPad to reply to emails from my editors/freelance supervisors. I also use Evernote to write out ideas I have for various writing projects.

5. I switch over to my laptop and complete writing assignments for work when I get home. Once I'm done, I'll usually spend some time on my iPad, going over my class notes for the day. I also frequently use my iPad to peruse SLP job postings. I'll be graduating this December, and I like to keep track of what sort of job openings there are.

6. At this point in my day, it's usually almost time to meet up with one of the kindergarten, first, or second grade students I tutor. I might call my boyfriend or one of my friends on the way to the subway to catch up and make dinner plans or other plans for the evening.

7. On the subway, I go over my lesson plan for whichever student I'll be meeting with that day.

8. I meet up with my student. We typically read and re-read a print book together and then read a fun, interactive book together on my iPad. This week I'm reading The Cat in the Hatwith all of my kids. This classic book totally comes alive on the iPad. If you have or teach young children, you have to check it out!

9. Oftentimes, I'll end the lesson with my students by playing some sort of literacy game on my iPad and practicing sight words on digital flashcards (on my iPad, of course). I typically use the ABC Pocket Phonics app with my kindergarten students to practice their letters and signs. And I'll use apps like Early Reader and K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite with my older kiddos to work on their fluency and more advanced phonics skills. The young learners I work with pretty much love everything we do on my iPad, and I truly believe all of them have benefited from using this technology.

10. Once I'm done tutoring, I usually take a break from my iPad. I plug it in, and leave it alone for a while. I might meet up with my boyfriend or friends for dinner and usually spend some time unwinding with them at the end of the day. Before bed, I might research different literacy and speech therapy apps. I get excited about all the cool apps I'll be able to use once I officially start working in speech therapy, and I drift off to sleep, oftentimes still holding my iPad.

As you can probably tell, I'm glued to my iPad and technology in general throughout the day. As a student or educator, how do you use your iPad to optimize what you do? Let us know!

 

Angelita Williams is a freelance writer, student, and educator who frequently contributes to onlinecollegecourses.com. She strives to instruct her readers and enrich their lives and welcomes you to contact her at angelita.williams7@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.


 

Lecturing with an iPad eBook

Control Your Lecture with an iPad

Wander any place in your classroom and still control your slides! Download our free eBook and learn how to use your iPad to untether yourself from the podium and start teaching more interactively.

Topics: emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Educational Technology, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, educational networking, Apple iPad in Education

How Tech Changed My University Classroom

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Thu, September 06, 2012

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As a (now contentedly former) English professor at a large public university in the American South, and, obviously, a longtime student myself before that, I have seen firsthand how technology transformed the classroom...and then transformed it again. This is a big mistake we make when thinking about technological change: thinking that the world can be divided into “before” and “after” a given technology, and that once the latest thing is ubiquitous, we’ll get to stay still. Unfortunately this is not the case, for it’s not one shift that makes the difference but multiple simultaneous, overlapping, and qualitatively different revolutions that may soon be made obsolete themselves.

When I was a child, we still watched filmstrips in class. Yes, actual strips of actual film. I remember watching the first President Bush’s inauguration on TV in a classroom, though I can’t remember if it was cable yet or simply broadcast. Then video infiltrated classrooms, with the beloved clunky TV cart that heralded a day off from book-based study (Marshall McLuhan once warned that introducing television into education would blow the classroom apart -- I’m not so sure he wasn’t right).

Thanks to the famed visionary forward-looking genius of Apple (and/or their self-serving canniness), green screen and then full-color Macs proliferated in my schools. I was in college when cell phones became popular, but few people had laptops.

By the time I started teaching, nearly every student had a laptop, though as those years went on, fewer and fewer bothered to bring it to class. Why? I wish I could say it was because of their desire to put away anything that might distract from my words of wisdom.

In truth, the cellphone and laptop had merged, and their iPhones were now a one-stop shop for research, socializing, and pure time-wasting. We now have the iPad and, interestingly, tablets seem to be trending smaller and iPhones bigger. Will the two products merge? Where does our future lie, and what does it mean for education?

My most recent classrooms featured computer podiums hooked up to a projector. This was moderately useful in my Introduction to Fiction class, where I mainly used it to call up YouTube videos so that authors like James Baldwin, Ray Bradbury, and Vladimir Nabokov could explain their work in person. I also found biographical documentaries of writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and James Joyce, who did not live to see the television era, let alone get grandfathered into YouTube.

But it was the other literature class I was teaching, Introduction to Drama, where technology really brought the subject alive. Unlike prose fiction, after all, drama is not in its essential form a “text,” but is meant as a blueprint to be interpreted and brought to life. So after reading, say, Euripides in our anthology of plays, I could show my students a slideshow on the development of tragedy, a documentary clip demonstrating the spatial quality and remarkable acoustics of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens, and four or five different interpretations of the same scene from Medea taken from live and cinematic versions in English, Greek, and Japanese. This truly showcased the mind-blowing potential of the wired classroom, and all that was missing was an interactive element to make it more hands-on for my students.

 

Stephanie Brooks is a freelance writer and blogger who mostly enjoys covering all things education, including at top10onlineuniversities.org, but also regarding traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. When she's not writing, she can be found at the gym working out to Zumba and cooking healthy recipes at home. She welcomes your feedback.

 


Lecturing with an iPad eBookFree eBook: Lecturing with an iPad

Students are far less likely to stray when you are able to roam the aisles. Download our free eBook and learn how to use your iPad to untether yourself from the podium and start teaching more interactively.

Topics: Apple, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Flipped Instruction, Guest Blogger

The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Flipped Classroom

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Wed, August 29, 2012

 

 

The "flipped classroom" has been making waves in the educational world for some time now. With the introduction of the Khan Academy, the concept of the flipped classroom has become one of the hottest debates in the academic world among primary educators, professors, and administrators alike. As education-based technology and online platforms continue to grow and improve, more and more devices, programs, and concepts are entering the educational world and shaking things up. Where at one time the concept of online learning, computer-based assignments, and the virtual classroom were scoffed at, today online education and technology in the classroom are top priorities for schools, teachers, and researchers.

 

Within our increasingly digital world, most of us agree that education and academia must respond to the changing atmosphere of society. By and large, we accept that online learning and certain academic technologies are worthwhile. However, with all the hoopla over the Khan Academy and the flipped classroom, there remain both positives and negatives to the approach.

 

The Advantages

Many of the advantages of the flipped classroom have been covered throughout the blogosphere and elsewhere. There are many things to praise about the concept of the flipped classroom. With positive results from many teachers and school districts throughout the country, there's no denying that the approach can (and has been) successful in certain cases. Students are able to approach material and take it in at their own speed. By covering lecture material at home and from a video-based platform, students can privately view the material. This allows them to approach things at their own pace without worry of peers noticing them moving slower or faster. Students can stop, pause, rewind, and fast forward material so that they can examine things in their own way.

 

By taking the lecture portion of the classroom home with them, students are able to utilize their teachers' one-on-one attention more successfully in the classroom. Students sit through lecture, gather questions, and prepare themselves for the day with the teacher to tackle "homework". Because the actual exercises are done in the classroom rather than at home with this model, students have their teacher available for questions with problems when they occur.

 

The flipped classroom also allows teaching to adapt more easily to the different teaching styles that individual students may be most successful with. By putting lectures in a video format, students can listen to the lesson and watch the video illustrate the lesson. Of course, this largely depends on how successful the actual video lecture is. You want a lecture (like the Khan videos) that explains concepts verbally, but also draws them out in images and pictures. This provides adequate learning opportunities for verbal learners and for visual learners. With in-classroom lecturing, the visual aspect of lecturing can be significantly more difficult to accomplish.

 

The Disadvantages

Of course, as with anything, there are going to be some disadvantages to the flipped structure of learning as well. Just as classroom lecturing works better for some and doesn't work for others, the flipped classroom method is not going to accommodate every individual perfectly. The biggest set back today to the flipped classroom method is that not all students and schools have access to technologies that can really work for this method.

 

Students from lower income areas and lower income families may not have access to the computers and internet technologies that the flipped classroom requires. The structure really hinges on every student having personal access to his or her own personal device. This simply is not the case for every student and every school district. Students who do not have personal home computers or access to the internet would be forced to use public computers at a library or at the school. This, to some degree, eliminates the personal and private experience of taking in the lecture. What makes having lectures as homework so powerful is that students can do it on their own time and in their own way. At a library computer or school computer time limits typically exist and access can be limited if it is busy. This is problematic.

 

Another downside to the idea of the flipped classroom that many people bring up is the fact that students would be spending all of their "homework time" plugged-in in front of a computer screen. Not only do not all students do well with learning from a screen, but this also adds to a student's time in front of a screen and sitting sedentary. While this concern isn't singular to the flipped classroom, the teaching concept doesn't help our young students to get up and get away from their computers, televisions, and iPods.

Flip your classroom with LectureTools! Check out one of our flipped classrooms by signing in as a student:

http://my.lecturetools.com

ID: icon20@lecturetools.com

PW: 2012

Mariana Ashley is a blogger and freelance writer who often writes for onlinecolleges.net about online college life. Mariana is passionate about all things education and loves writing about the latest trends in the world of academia. She welcomes comments via email at mariana.ashley031@gmail.com.

Topics: Learning Styles, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, student engagement, student engagement strategies, student response, Flipped Instruction, Guest Blogger, Learning Outcomes, The Flipped Classroom

Pros and Cons of iPads in the Classroom

Posted by Jason Aubrey on Tue, June 26, 2012

 

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Since it debuted in 2010 the iPad has taken the world by storm. Tablets and e-readers have flooded the market from every manufacturer possible. People are regularly trading their laptops for the sleeker version of the tablet. Businesses are using them for presentations, meetings, and events. Basically, the iPad is saturating every market possible. So it should come as no surprise that it’s becoming a regular debate as to if iPads should be offered in classrooms or not. However there has been some controversy surrounding implementing iPads in classrooms, with some heavy pros and cons weighing on each side.

PROS

1. Eliminates the need for textbooks – Issuing students iPads at the beginning of the year virtually eliminates the need for textbooks in the classroom because of the ability to download books to the device. This means less money spent on books that are outdated within a few years, and less weight for students to lug back and forth from class to class and home and back every day. Plus, it’s easier for kids to highlight important information within the text and keep track of notes in the margins of pages. 

2. Organization – This all but eliminates the “dog ate my homework” excuse and is a viable solution for the chronically disorganized. Students’ notes are all in one place, homework can be uploaded into virtual dropboxes, and each subject can be confined into an individual desktop folder. 

3. Teaches kids early on about technology – Like it or not, technology is taking over the way we do everything, from personal interactions to business ones. The sooner kids learn how to not only be comfortable with using technology, but also be extremely proficient in it, the more it’s going to help them succeed later on in life. 

4. It allows teachers to give lectures in cutting edge ways – Instead of the typical approach to classroom lectures where teachers stand at the front of the classroom and talk for the duration of the class, a practice which tends to leave students less then engaged, iPads in the classroom allow for a much more interactive approach. Through the use of technology like LectureTools teachers and students alike experience in the classroom learning experience in an entirely different, more hands-on approach.

Cons

1. Expensive – Let’s face it, iPads aren’t cheap. Buying an iPad to be issued to every student and teacher would get expensive fast, and then there’s always the worry that a careless student would accidentally break one, or that the inevitable accident would happen leaving the iPad broken and useless and needing to be repaired or replaced. 

2. Potential to be very distracting – Having an iPad at your fingertips all day has the very tempting potential to be extremely distracting, especially if you’re one of the many kids who has some sort of attention disorder. There would have to be some sort of monitoring in place to ensure that students used the iPad solely for school purposes, and even then there are ways around that. 

3. Connectivity – Relying on a device that has to be connected to the internet to get the full functionality out of it is risky, to put it mildly. One network outage can throw off an entire day’s lessons, which is an attractive argument for the standard textbook approach.

It’s plausible, and even probable, that at some point iPads will be the standard in the classrooms. While there are still definite cons to the approach, they aren’t anything that can’t be dealt with, and the pros weigh heavy in favor of the switch to a tablet-based learning experience.

Author Bio

Melanie Slaugh is enthusiastic about the growing prospects and opportunities of various industries and writing articles on various consumer goods and services as a freelance writer. She writes extensively for internet service providers and also topics related to internet service providers in her area for presenting the consumers the information they need to choose the right Internet package for them. She can be reached at slaugh.slaugh907 @ gmail.com.


 

Lecturing with an iPad eBookLearn How to Teach with Your iPad

Students are far less likely to go off-task when you are able to roam the aisles. Download our free eBook and learn how to use your iPad to teach class from anywhere in the room and break free from the podium.

Topics: Mobile Devices for Education, emerging technologies in education, Educational Technology, student engagement, Apple iPad in Education

Do Professors Determine Whether Laptops Engage or Distract Students?

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Thu, February 02, 2012

laptops in class

At Duke University. 95% of its students bring computers to campus, with 95% of those being laptops. Laptops are changing the ways students learn in class, as well as the way (and the places) students study.

Many students and professors alike agree that laptops can serve as distractions during class. So much so, in fact, that about a third of the sociology department faculty at Duke has banned laptops from their classrooms.

And not only are students who spend class surfing the web, emailing, and uploading photos to Facebook distracted, but these activities can also be distracting to other students sitting beside or behind them. But is banning laptops the solution to the problem?

 

Engaging laptops to improve student attentiveness

A laissez faire approach to laptops in the classroom will often lead to distraction.  Lecturing at students is a technique that has been used for hundreds of years – its effectiveness can perhaps best be represented by the age-old image of students sleeping in class.

But despite their potential to distract, instructors who change their style of teaching to reflect the new ways students are thinking and engaging with the world outside of the classroom are more successful at getting students to stay away from social networking sites and getting them to pay attention in class.

"I often ask people to look things up, confirm a date, find an image, etc.," said Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs at Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

Such strategies may require some planning before class, but can go a long way in making students more engaged in class. This is in no small part because having students interact with the class breaks up the monotony. Michael Munger, professor of political science and economics at Duke explains:

"The problem is not the distraction offered by the laptop," Munger said. "It’s the need of the human mind to have things broken up into pieces where concentration is possible, for focused attention is interesting and enjoyable. If the students weren’t looking at their laptop, they would be dozing or doodling."

If you ignore laptops, students will pay more attention to the Internet than they do to your course material. But, if you ban laptops, students can still easily find ways to distract themselves, like texting, doodling, or simply staring off into space. Next time you plan out a lecture, think about how you might be able to use the devices students are bringing to class for the powers of learning.

 

What role does the professor have in the benefits (or disadvantages) of laptops in the classroom?

Simply put, if students are asked to learn passively, i.e. through hours of dull lecturing, laptops in the classroom can only serve to distract. A handful of students will use them for note-taking, but many will be unable to resist the siren song of the latest emails and tweets.

Even taking laptops out of the equation means students will simply doodle on their notes, “secretly” text their friends, or simply stare off into space.

According to Munger, bluntly, "the fact is that laptops don’t waste students’ time; professors do."

Professors who engage devices in the classroom can get their students to pay more attention in class. More importantly, they can get students to engage and interact with the material. This will encourage students to research and think critically about the material, something that cannot be achieved if students are simply passively listening to lecture.

Thus, it not only matters what material is covered, but also how that material is covered. And in that capacity, laptops offer an excellent opportunity to challenge the status quo of lectures by interacting more with students, and asking them to interact with materials.

"Laptops can help achieve learning outcomes or they can distract from learning outcomes," Baker said. "The professor is in the best position to evaluate the use of laptops in his or her classroom."

Before dismissing the value of laptops in your classroom, think about how you might be able to engage laptops to improve learning outcomes. Simply giving some thought to how you might be able to encourage beneficial use of technology in your classroom can be a huge first step towards improving engagement, attentiveness, and learning outcomes.

 

making the switch ebookMaking the Switch: How 4 Professors at Michigan Embraced Laptops and Made Class Interactive

Download our free ebook to learn how professors at the University of Michigan are using LectureTools, an interactive presentation tool, to provide an in-class learning platform for student laptops.

Get the eBook

Topics: traditional teaching methods, classroom engagement strategies, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Large Class, student engagement, Laptops in Education

5 Ways to Use Your iPad to Teach in the College Classroom

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Tue, January 31, 2012

iPad
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee

When thinking of iPads in education, typically the first thought that comes to mind is an iPad for every student. But, iPads and their Android-based counterparts have plenty to offer the college classroom in the hands of instructors, too.

The tech savvy professor can finally teach without the need to spend the first ten minutes of class locating a working dry erase marker or achieving the seemingly impossible feat of configuring an overhead projector to project both large enough for students in the back to see, as well as in focus.

In many cases, the iPad enables you to interact more with large groups of students and facilitates more engaging means of instruction. Here are 5 ways to use the iPad as an instructor in higher education:

 

1. Control your laptop remotely

Some of the primary criticisms of the iPad are that it does not offer the same level of functionality as a laptop running either Windows or OSX.  The iPad does not allow you to multitask, nor does it offer an SD card slot or a USB port.

But, while teaching your class, you can control your laptop wirelessly using an iPad. This means you have access to the same applications that you do on your Mac or PC, and by controlling a laptop that is connected to the classroom projector, you can thus navigate and project your class PowerPoint slides using your iPad.

 

2. Present interactive activities to your students

Admittedly there isn’t too much advantage to simply using a remote desktop app like Splashtop or LogMeIn if all you are doing is advancing PowerPoint slides – remotes for this already exist, and they are substantially cheaper (and smaller) than iPads.

Take the opportunity to stop lecturing at your students and start engaging them. Present interactive activities, like free response questions, using your tablet, so that your students can engage with the material you are presenting to them. They’ll pay more attention, too.

 

 3. Open a backchannel and reply to questions

One of the worst things about teaching a large lecture course is that oftentimes it is difficult to know if students understand anything you say. Additionally, students can be too intimidated to raise hands in front of their peers, or simply don’t have a chance to ask a question without interrupting.

There are many methods to open a backchannel for your classroom using your iPad, some more elegant than others. Browse forums or a chat room built into your LMS with your iPad while continuing to present lecture slides using the podium PC and a presentation remote. Or, adopt a more seamless interactive presentation tool.

 

4. Draw or annotate your slides

It’s tough to draw diagrams or graphs using a mouse. Use your electronic slate to draw on your slides using your finger or, better yet, a stylus.

When remotely controlling your PC using your tablet, you should have no trouble drawing graphs or sketching out important points. No more need to bring a package of wet erase markers and a box of overhead transparencies!

 

5. Catch off-task students by roaming the aisles

sleeping studentAt times it can be tough to engage students when you stand guard next to the lectern for the entire class session to access a mouse and keyboard. But, when you have a remote connection configured using your iPad, you can easily walk up and down the aisles of the lecture hall.

This will inevitably wake up students who thought the distance between you and the seating area represented an impenetrable fortress of safe space for an early-morning nap, and lets you see which students are actually typing comments on their friends’ Facebook albums instead of notes on your course.

 

Lecturing with an iPad eBookFree eBook: Lecturing with an iPad

Students are far less likely to stray when you are able to roam the aisles. Download our free eBook and learn how to use your iPad to untether yourself from the podium and start teaching more interactively.

Topics: Apple, classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Apple iPad in Education

5 Reasons Why Apple's New iBooks Will Modernize the eTextbook

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Fri, January 20, 2012

apple ibooks textbooks

Yesterday, Apple made a series of education announcements at the Guggenheim Museum. Perhaps the largest news of the day was the unveiling of the iBooks 2 eTextbook format, designed to harness the 1.5 million iPads currently used for education (and to make it even more appealing to get more iPads into the hands of students).

There are plenty of companies vying for eTextbook dollars, but none with as much weight and digital delivery infrastructure already in place as Apple. Here’s why iBooks 2 are a wave capable of making a huge splash in higher education:

 

1. iBooks are significantly cheaper than physical textbooks

While the catalog is currently limited, Apple has a price cap of $14.99 on books selling in its store. Despite not having the ability to resell an eTextbook, the difference in price between iBooks and traditional paper copies is large enough to draw in more students who are looking to save on books, particularly those who either already own an iPad, or those who attend institutions with iPad initiatives.

 

2. Anyone can create and distribute materials through iTunes

Along with the iBooks 2 format, Apple also revealed the iBook Author application. Anyone can import existing Keynote or Word files, and it is simple to drag and drop multimedia into your iBook. For instructors who offer a great deal of material in either a coursepack or in a custom textbook, the iBook Author application will allow them to publish their book to the iTunes Store in no time, with the ability to price materials from $14.99 and under.

 

3. Designed for the iPad, iBooks are more engaging and interactive

Most eTextbooks to date are identical to their physical counterparts, the only difference being that the former is accessible only through laptops or other mobile devices. iBooks by nature are intended to be optimized experiences for the iPad. This means that beyond standard fare – text and still photos – videos, interactive quizzes, and other elements can supplement static material.

 

4. No need to worry about writing in your book

When students read an iBook, they are able to add “sticky notes” to particular pages with notes for later. They can also highlight important passages using an array of different virtual “ink” colors. This could have the effect of getting more students to “mark up” their class reading, since there is no need to worry about ink bleeding through pages, or reduced resale value from taking notes in the book.

 

5. A single location for all course materials

With web browsing, office suites, and a full range of apps already available for the iPad, the addition of proper textbooks provides a single location for students’ study materials. There is need to tote around multiple books, notebooks, and highlighters when everyone is contained within a single device. To this effect, Apple has updated iTunes U to also allow instructors to deliver syllabi, assignments, and information like office hours through a dedicated app.

 

Improve In-Class Engagement and Attentiveness Using Students’ iPads

student ipad appWhile iBooks and iTunes U provide great platforms for after class, did you know that by engaging iPads during class, students can become more attentive and engaged? Using the LectureTools iPad App, students can take notes associated with lecture slides, respond to interactive activities, and relay comprehension difficulties to you in real-time.

Get Early Access to the LectureTools Student iPad App

Topics: eTextbooks, Apple, emerging technologies in education, Teaching with Technology, Educational Technology, student engagement, ipad application, Apple iPad in Education

Rethinking the Value of Learning Styles in the Classroom

Posted by Erin Klein on Fri, December 23, 2011

learning styles

Recent research has revealed that, despite each person having unique thinking patterns, our brains are much more similar than we originally believed. Still, the concept of distinct learning styles persists: many educators subscribe to the idea that each student has a distinct learning style that should be approached in an equally distinct way.

An alternative to learning-style-based teaching

Scientists are still debating the existence of learning styles, but combining both audio and visual learning tools in the classroom has proven to increase student engagement because it adds variety to the learning environment. Using a variety of technological teaching and learning tools like videos, message boards and learning games can keep students engaged and offer them a way to have fun with their lessons.

In addition to variety, interaction is also an important learning tool because it allows students to look at the concepts they are learning from multiple angles. For example: a student may think he understands the Pythagorean Theorem, but another student may approach it with a question that he had not thought of before. By bringing distinct minds together and allowing them to work through a problem together from different approaches, learning can become more engaging and effective.

The role of technology in teaching and learning

Technology has made it much easier for students and teachers to reach goals, regardless of location or distance. Many online degree programs are able to keep students engaged while allowing them to interact with one another through digital platforms. In many cases, students can choose from several teaching mediums, such as images, graphs, audio recordings, and interactive reading materials. By stimulating the mind through each of these approaches, students are more likely to comprehend and retain the information more effectively than they would if they were sitting in a full lecture hall with little or no interaction with the material, the instructor, or their classmates.

Although learning tools like these can be used to engage students enrolled in online learning programs, they can also be used effectively in physical settings. Large lecture halls and classrooms can benefit dramatically from the use of digital learning tools, which can allow students to submit questions to the instructor and their classmates, while also using hands-on software to put their knowledge to the test.

For example: a group of 300 students is taking a statistics class with one instructor. It would be impossible for an instructor to accommodate the learning preferences of each individual student without the help of digital tools. However, with interactive graphing tools on their laptops, access to lecture notes, and a comprehensive messaging system that enhances communication with their peers and the instructor, students can effectively engage themselves in the lessons get a firm mental grasp on the new information.

Students may have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to academics, and some students may have to work harder at learning a mathematical concept than a language concept—or vice-versa. However, these strengths do not necessarily indicate that a student with exceptional skills in language would benefit best from strictly reviewing word math problems without a focus on numerical or graphic alternatives. Instead, learning should be achieved by utilizing a variety of different teaching methods to slowly piece the concept together in the brain.

Photo: jisc_infonet


About the Author

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He has a keen interest in blogging and social media. He also writes for www.professionalintern.com.

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Topics: traditional teaching methods, Learning Styles, classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Educational Technology, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Guest Blogger