The LectureTools Blog

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

Why Banning Internet Access from Classrooms Won’t Fix Lectures

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Tue, October 18, 2011

no internet connection

A recent article about wireless devices, distraction, and engagement in the classroom noted that the University of Chicago Law School has eliminated Internet access in most of its classrooms.

On the surface, this move makes sense: most professors know that bored students with laptops tend to drift off onto email and social networking sites. But, when used properly, Internet access can improve engagement, and, perhaps most importantly, keep students on-task and off social networking sites.


Students are not dependent on Wi-Fi for connectivity or distractions

smartphone facebookDisabling wireless Internet in the classroom will certainly hinder the ability for many students to access the web. But the number of smartphones and bundled data plans is on the rise. At Ball State, nearly half of students reported owning a smartphone.

This means students can still access Facebook, Twitter, and the web. Additionally, even students without data plans can use their traditional “dumbphones” to text friends. Plainly, students are always connected, with or without campus Wi-Fi.

There was a time when doing newspaper crossword puzzles and whispering to neighbors were the only source of distraction. Even without the Internet, there is still no guarantee students will find a passive lecture more engaging than these unplugged sources of distraction.


The Internet has legitimate educational applications, even during class

At the very least, taking Internet access away from students punishes each of them, even those who were using their connectivity responsibly. Engaged students can find many on-task uses for the Internet during lecture.

The most obvious application for students in class is using one of many online note-taking tools to build review materials during class. In an increasingly online world, some students may opt for Google Docs over its desktop counterparts. Others might use a more specialized tool such as Evernote or Ubernote.

Curious or resourceful students might utilize Google to quickly brush up on or discover more information about topics that pass by quickly during lecture. Such curiosity could range from simple recollection to active learning and exploration.


sleeping studentInternet access is not the root cause of student inattentiveness

With so many websites full of games, instant messaging, and other tempting distractions, many see the Internet as an easy scapegoat for student inattentiveness. It is always important, however, to ask whether students would pay attention even without Internet access.

Engaging students and making class more interactive can make students more attentive, regardless of whether there is Internet access in the classroom or not. “Rather than seeing distraction as a challenge,” the Educause article concludes, “educators can see it as an opportunity to reflect upon and change the design of their entire instructional approach.”

Passive lectures result in worse learning outcomes than more interactive pedagogical styles. In those classes, it’s difficult to blame students for wandering off onto distracting websites and sending emails. Between ubiquitous access, legitimate uses, and passive lectures, turning off the Wi-Fi simply won’t solve problems with attentiveness during class.


Photos: noli's, Johan Larsson, rofltosh


student engagement lecturetoolsLearn How to Improve Student Attentiveness with an Online Lecture Engagement System

Sign-up for an upcoming webinar to learn more about how making class more interactive with LectureTools can keep students off of Facebook while improving engagement and attentiveness.

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Topics: classroom engagement strategies, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Large Class, Educational Technology, Laptops in Education, Student Note-Taking