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

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

The 3 Best Times to Ask Your Students Questions

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Fri, December 09, 2011

peer instruction

You probably already know that polling students during class makes lecture more interactive, while improving student learning. Asking students to work through problems in class increases engagement and attentiveness while providing an opportunity to practice with the material.

Timing can turn a good "clicker" question into a great one. Strategically placing in-class activities can be a great student engagement strategy.

Here are 3 of our favorite times to ask for student responses:

1. Before covering a new topic

At the beginning of lecture, or between key ideas, ask your students an ungraded question. This gives them a low-stakes opportunity to share their pre-existing conceptions or beliefs, and also will keep their attention as they follow along with your lecture to discover whether they were correct or not. For example, before beginning a discussion about tornadoes, ask students where they think the most tornadoes typically occur.

For more open-ended discussions, your opinion poll might not have a correct answer. Rather, students can share their opinions. Show the results to launch a discussion about why some students answered the way they did. For example, a political science instructor once asked his students when they felt the United States became a democracy. Some students answered key dates in US history (women's suffrage, the Civil Rights Act), while others indicated they still believed there was work to be done. While the question had no "right" answer, it certainly provided ample opportunity for discussion.

 

2. After a multiple choice or image quiz question

A well-written multiple choice question can assess student comprehension, but cannot reveal why students chose the answer they submitted. This means that some students may have submitted the correct choice by chance. Additionally, there might not be much insight as to why other students missed the question. For image quizzes, it can be easy to miss nuances that caused students to select the wrong region.

To help solve these pitfalls, pose a free response question that asks students to defend their answer to the previous question. Your students will think critically through articulation while giving you insight into their logic. As an added bonus, some students may discover the flaw in their logic on their own when pressed to defend their answer.

 

3. After letting students discuss a question

Sometimes, you might ask a question that many students will answer incorrectly. In this case, consider using peer instruction. Ask your students to turn to a neighbor and give them a few minutes discuss the question. Once student discussions begin to wrap-up, pose the same question again. When you show the results to the class, the answers will have shifted. If most students have answered correctly, move on to the next topic. Otherwise, have students discuss in small groups or as a class.

 

Photo: velkr0

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Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Large Class, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, Clickers

How Technology Empowers the Shy Student to Participate in Class

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Fri, August 05, 2011

shy studentWhether in a lecture hall exceeding 500 seats or in a small class of 20 students, college students are often reluctant to participate. For some students, the fear to participate is the largest factor, though for others, the passive nature of lecture inhibits participation.

The benefits of active learning -- including participating in class, applying new material, and thinking critically about new ideas – have been well documented. Despite these benefits, however, passive learning prevails, and students rarely participate in class.

 

Why Won't They Participate?

The easy answer to the tendency for college students to settle into a state of passive learning is that many are shy or afraid to raise their hands. Students are unlikely to answer a question if they fear their peers will judge them based on their answer.

Even instructors who routinely ask their students to interact during class find for many students, fear inhibits the ability to participate.

“I’ve always used lots of questions, I demand interaction,” said Dr. Ken Balazovich during an event this spring. “What [students] don’t want to do is make a wrong answer in front of 400 people.”

For other instructors, teaching style prohibits interaction. The lecture format by nature encourages passive learning. When students have a question, there is often no natural pause during the session that seems appropriate for speaking up.

It may only seem polite that students would be unwilling to interrupt lecture with a question, but without time for Q&A, it is difficult to assess students’ comprehension. Additionally, many students in the class may have the same question. Students have a lot to learn from hearing the questions of their peers, as well as the instructor’s answers.

 

Teach with Technology to Increase Student Participation

With students afraid to ask a “dumb question” in front of their peers, hesitant to “interrupt” lecture, and simply unwilling to participate, actively engaging students might seem like a hopeless cause. Many technologies, however, facilitate easier interaction with students, and encourage them to participate.

Student response systems are one solution. As we’ve mentioned numerous times before, interactive lectures taught with student response systems improve student learning. Questions posed to students break up the monotony of lecture, and allow students to self-assess their understanding while engaging with material.

Perhaps the biggest difference between using a student response system and traditional methods like a show of hands, however, is that students have a certain level of anonymity with student response systems. They can discreetly answer the question using a clicker, laptop, or cellphone. Answers are typically displayed as an aggregate to the class, without names attached. Students prefer to answer in-class questions with technology for these reasons, and thus, are more likely to participate.

Technology can allow students to submit questions as they arise, avoiding situations where students forget their question before it can be asked. Additionally, monitoring the backchannel can create a way for students to ask questions and receive answers without fear.

With college students and young adults most likely to be online, your students not only appreciate, but expect technology in the classroom. And it just might help the shy student to participate.

 

Photo: Jonathan Pobre

Learn How to Harness the Backchannel with an Anonymous Student Question Feed

LectureTools Instructor Dashboard

Schedule a live demo today and learn more about how students can submit questions digitally during lecture for TAs to answer. Answered questions become visible to the entire class anonymously, benefitting all students.

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Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, Clickers

Study Finds Students Prefer Technology-Based Student Response Methods

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, July 18, 2011

show of handsStudents agree that in-class concept questions are useful, and that technology is their preferred response method.

 

We have already discussed Wieman’s findings that teaching interactively improves student learning. Now, a new study in the July 2011 issue of Teaching of Psychology has found that while students prefer using clickers to respond to conceptual questions in class, clickers offer no advantage over using flashcards or hand-raising when it comes to learning.

Dr. Joelle Elicker and doctoral candidate Nicole McConnell conducted the research using Introduction to Psychology courses at the University of Akron. The experiment compared three groups, each taught with in-class conceptual questions that provided students more opportunities to engage with material and instructors a way to assess student learning during class.

The only difference between the groups was the method students used to respond to the questions: one group responded with a show of hands, another by holding up flashcards corresponding to the different answer choices, and the third through use of clickers.

Students reported that using clickers, the sole response method that utilized technology, was their favorite way to answer questions. Flashcards were the least popular option, and one instructor suggested students felt this response method seemed childish in a college classroom.

 

Perceived value of questions and student learning independent of response method

Despite the popularity of clickers over flashcards and hand-raising, the experiment revealed that the response method’s impact on student learning (measured through exam scores) was not significant.

Elicker and McConnell also collected data about student perceptions of the questions' usefulness for learning. Much like the actual learning, the questions were perceived as equally helpful, regardless of response method.

These results reinforce the notion that such in-class conceptual questions benefit student learning. Students, it seems, find value in such interactive teaching methods regardless of response method. But all else equal, students prefer to use the technology of classroom response systems over traditional methods.

 

Why response method was unrelated to student learning in Elicker study

Skeptics may point to the study’s finding that learning outcomes are independent of student response method. The simple explanation for this is that the study used only multiple choice questions provided by the textbook publisher.

While multiple choice questions can be valuable tools, students can engage with multiple choice questions regardless of response method. Simply put, regardless of whether the student is pressing a button to respond in favor of ‘answer B’ or holding up an index card that corresponds to the same answer, the thought process and practice with the material (or random guess) has already occurred prior to the act of responding.

While traditional clicker systems are typically restricted to multiple choice questions, one would expect that the impacts on student learning would have been far different had the full potential of emerging educational technologies been utilized.

 

Accounting for the potential of emerging technologies to improve student learning

Index cards, clickers, and hand-raising are all able to convey that a student has selected a particular answer. Imagine, however, if instead of clickers, students were using their laptops and cellphones in class. These devices have much more capability than a traditional classroom response system.

Using powerful software would have allowed instructors to teach interactively using not only multiple choice questions, but also to solicit answers for free response questions or to integrate online media. Instructors could even ask students to do quick research online during class and have students break into small groups to discuss their findings.

Flashcards and traditional clickers simply are unable to relay these complex and open-ended responses. While students could raise their hands to share with the class, in a large lecture this poses the limitation of only hearing from a handful of students in a sea of hundreds.

Finding that students report value from interactive questions and a preference for using technology to respond will have important ramifications for the future of education. Keeping students happy and engaged in large classes offers greater opportunity for learning, and unleashing the full potential of the devices students are already bringing to class will only provide even more such opportunities.

 

Photo: theirhistory

 

Learn How the Classroom Response System in LectureTools Facilitates Interactive Teaching

LectureTools Instructor Dashboard

Request a live demo today and learn more about how to create interactive slideshows and how to present engaging lectures using classroom response and student inquiry features of LectureTools.

Schedule a Live Demo

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, Student Response Systems, Clickers, Learning Outcomes

You Don't Need an App for That: Schools Cut Costs with Mobile Web

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Fri, July 01, 2011

mobile web smartphoneMany colleges have iPhone apps that allow students and visitors to easily access campus maps, view campus dining hall menus, check campus bus schedules, and more. A recent article from the Chronicle discussed how some colleges are now turning away from such campus apps. As the smartphone market becomes increasingly segmented, Apple's iPhone no longer stands alone.

Data from the article reports that there are over 25 million smartphone subscribers in the United States with phones that run on Google's Android platform. Blackberry and Apple each have close to 20 million subscribers, and Microsoft's platform has around 5 million users. What this means for mobile developers is that for a given application, a 3 or 4 different versions might need to be designed in order to accommodate students and campus visitors who carry phones with competing software.

 

Designing for a Segmented Mobile Market

Developing apps for a number of different mobile platforms is costly. So much so that some colleges are beginning instead to focus on developing mobile web sites. Rather than having users install an app for campus information, these schools simply push web traffic to a mobile version of their websites. Unlike an iPhone app, a mobile website is compatible with any device that has a web browser.

Despite the compatibility of mobile websites, many smartphone users prefer installing apps instead of browsing the mobile web. Additionally, apps are more versatile when it comes to taking advantage of new features of smartphones and tablets, such as cameras, sensors, and GPS data. Still, most basic web content should be delivered through the mobile web, rather than by proprietary applications.

 

Saving Money in Higher Education by Supporting Existing Hardware

Schools shying away from platform-specific apps shed light on a broader issue in education: delivering content to a variety of devices. Universities already provide support for both Mac and Windows laptops. Supporting both platforms ensures that students can come to campus with their existing machines, or shop around for the best deal when it's time for an upgrade.

With tuition prices skyrocketing, instructors are looking for ways to keep costs down for students. One way to do this is to take advantage of educational technologies that use the devices students already own. For students with tablets or eReaders, eTextbooks can already save students money over the price of new textbooks, especially if the book's chapters can be purchased individually.

Another opportunity for cost savings is the arena of classroom response systems. In many cases, students are required to buy dedicated hardware – clickers – to respond to in-class activities and to receive participation or attendance points. If the institution upgrades to a new system or the student loses the clicker, they have to purchase yet another gadget.

Much as mobile websites allow compatibility with any Internet-enabled device, web-based classroom response systems allow students to use whatever gadgets they are already carrying to class, whether that means laptops, cellphones, or even some Wi-Fi enabled portable media players.

The web-based model means students using any platform can use the technology without purchasing new hardware and that institutions need not install proprietary infrastructure for each instructional technology.

For these reasons, supporting the mobile web and other web-based applications increases in importance with each passing year. And with access to information and services on almost any device, it is true what some of these colleges say: you don't need an app for that.

 

Photo: Johann Larsson

 

LectureTools Instructor DashboardFind Out How LectureTools Student Response, Note-Taking, and Inquiry Tool Improves Engagement Without Special Hardware

Schedule a live demo to learn more about how to improve student engagement and attentiveness using LectureTools, a web-based tool that works on any Internet-enabled device.

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Topics: emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, Student Response Systems, Laptops in Education, Web Applications

3 Ways to Use Classroom Response Systems to Teach More Effectively

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Fri, June 24, 2011

peer group discussionClassroom response systems can be used to facilitate peer instruction by having students break into smaller groups for discussion. (Photo: Felix42 contra la censura)

It is an unfortunate truth that many instructors use classroom response systems only to take attendance. It is also true, however, that clickers can be a valuable tool for supplementing and facilitating interactive teaching techniques that can improve student engagement and student learning in classes both large and small.

While there are a number of ways to use classroom response systems, below are 3 of our favorite ways to teach more effectively with clickers:

 

1. Facilitate Peer Instruction

Instead of having students discuss the question with the whole class, peer instruction facilitates these discussions in smaller groups. Ask your students to turn to a neighbor to defend their answer. More students will get involved in the discussion this way, and any fears of speaking in front of the large class are nullified.

To see what effect peer instruction has had on student comprehension, poll your students before the small group discussions and again after to see how student responses have changed. As an added incentive, peer instruction allows students to hear a different perspective or style of explanations. Additionally, some students find instruction from their peers to be more effective than lecturing from the instructor.

 

2. Monitor the Backchannel

Though most people quickly think of classroom response systems as a way to pose multiple choice questions to students, an alternative use of the system is to use the clickers to monitor the backchannel. Have students let you know when they are confused with their classroom response system to enable immediate feedback that need not wait for occasional quizzes or exams.

Some instructors who use systems that allow students to resubmit answers could simply leave a poll open for the duration of class, where students can rate their comprehension on a scale 1-5 by answering A-E respectively. Alternatively, after asking a clicker question can ask a follow-up question asking students how confident they are in their answer. More advanced classroom response systems provide separate mediums for monitoring the backchannel, where students can report confusion independently of the clicker function or submit questions.

 

3. Create Times for Telling

One way to engage students is to use clickers to make them more interested in the information that follows, or to create moments for telling. The underlying principle behind this use is that posing a question that many students will likely get wrong will make the subsequent explanations more interesting.

Students who missed the question will want to know why their answer was incorrect, while students who were able to submit the correct answer are more likely to listen for any pieces of the picture they may be missing because so many of their peers were wrong. Questions of this type do not serve to assess student performance, but rather to encourage students to engage with lecture to learn from mistakes and misconceptions.

 

Learn How the Classroom Response System in LectureTools Facilitates Interactive Teaching

LectureTools Instructor Dashboard

Request a live demo today and learn more about how to create interactive slideshows and how to present engaging lectures using classroom response and student inquiry features of LectureTools.

Schedule a Live Demo

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, Student Response Systems, Clickers, Learning Outcomes