LectureTools User Blog

Supplements of a LectureTools Testimony

Posted by Chelsea Jenkins on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 @ 12:10 PM

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 enhance classroom materials by incorporating 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: LectureTools News, 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, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, student response, Flipped Instruction, Clickers, educational networking, Guest Blogger

The 3 Most Important Statistics About the Impact of LectureTools

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 @ 01:04 AM

stanford laptops in lecture
Photo: Stanford EdTech

The University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching has already identified strategies to get the best learning outcomes through the use of LectureTools. Using interactive activities to engage students with material and using student responses to start classroom discussions goes a long way towards making students more engaged and attentive during class.

The CRLT also highlights a few statistics about the impact of LectureTools. LectureTools is only a means to the end result of student learning, engagement, and attentiveness. Accordingly, here is our list of the 3 most important numbers to know about LectureTools in the classroom:


1. 13% more students feel their laptop helps improve learning

When comparing classes using LectureTools against the control group, 13% more students reported that their laptop enabled them to learn more. In the LectureTools courses, 53% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the issue, compared to 40% of students from the control classes. This was a statistically significant different to p<.01.

This difference seems intuitive, given Carl Wieman's findings that more interactive teaching styles improve student learning.


2. Student engagement increases by 21%

60% of students in the LectureTools courses agreed or strongly agreed that their level of engagement increased due to laptop use. Only 39% of the control group students felt the same. This is a differece of 21%, significant to p<.001.


3. Student attentiveness due to laptop use jumps 12%

When presented with the statement "My attentiveness has increased due to laptop use," 37% of LectureTools students agreed or strongly agreed, a 12% jump over the control group, where just 25% of students agreed or strongly agreed. Through deliberate engagement of laptops and an easier path to communication with instructors and teaching assistants, it only makes sense that more students find incentive to pay attention and interact with lecture.


Read More About U-M CRLT's Findings

crlt 50 logoDownload the occassional paper "Use of Laptops in the Classroom: Research and Best Practices" from the University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching to learn more about LectureTools' impact on several U-M classrooms, and tips for beneficial laptop use in the classroom.

Download the CRLT Paper (PDF)

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Educational Technology, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Laptops in Education, Learning Outcomes

4 Types of Image Quizzes to Get Your Students Thinking Critically

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 @ 06:03 AM

Wondering more about the image quiz activity type inside of LectureTools? Here are four ways to use these activities that might fit in with your class:


Test for Understanding with Basic Identification Questions

basic identification image quizBasic recall questions are great for checking whether your students remember important information they will need going forward. These types of questions are related to multiple choice questions written to test vocabulary or recollection of simple facts. In the image quiz context, students would be presented with an image and would simply have to click on the point representing the correct answer.

A biology class might quiz students on where the nucleoid is in a diagram of a cell, while a history or geography class might quiz students on which country the Netherlands is on a blank map. This allows you to make sure students are remembering key information that is essential for new material that requires students to build on "old" material.


Encourage Critical Thinking with Multi-Dimensional Questions

Unlike basic identification questions, multi-dimensional image quizzes require students to do more than recall certain pieces of information. Instead, these questions have students engage with material in class that requires them to identify the appropriate concept and apply it to a problem they have never seen before.

Asking students in a biology class where in the cell ATP is produced, for example, may require them to remember both that mitochondria produce this energy as well as where they can find a mitochondrion in a cell. In a class about weather, showing students an aerial image and asking them where they would expect temperatures to be the hottest requires them to understand what conditions cause hotter surface temperatures to make an educated guess. These questions are more conceptual in nature, and are a great way to test whether students are making the bridge between reading information in a textbook and being able to apply it to a variety of situations.


Spark Discussion with Spectrum Questions

Open your class up to spectrum of possibilities, rather than confining it to a predetermined set of multiple choice answers. Spectrums can range from a simple strongly-agree-to-strongly-disagree scale to more philosophical or theoretical spectrums specifically drawn from course material.

spectrum questionWe’ve already written about how Mika LaVaque-Manty, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, uses LectureTools to pose questions geared towards humanities. Most notably, he used the image quiz feature to present a timeline to his students and ask them, in their opinion, when the United States became a democracy. The question generated a discussion, as some students chose important historical dates like the Emancipation Proclamation, women’s suffrage, or the Civil Rights Act. Other students indicated that the US had not yet achieved this ideal. Open-ended questions such as these force students to think on their own and to develop arguments for a wide portfolio of choices. Spectrum questions have no correct answer, but rather, force students to think critically in the context of your course. They are also great for preparing students for exams with open-ended essay prompts.


Introduce New Concepts with In-Class Experiments

Student response systems need not only test students’ knowledge. They can also introduce brand new concepts like regression. A blank set of axes with two defined variables makes for a great image quiz question, as students can plot their data point. The results of the activity would then be the aggregation of the entire class’s data, which could be a good way to introduce regression as a way to measure correlation by drawing a line of best fit and labeling the β and error terms.


Have another idea for image quiz questions? Leave your idea in the comments!


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: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, instructor interaction, student engagement, Student Response Systems, Student Participation, Clickers, image-based questions

How to Flip Your Class with LectureTools!

Posted by Katherine Pfeiffer on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 06:02 AM
Are you being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, or are you dancing with joy when you find a new and cool education technology?

Either way, LectureTools offers a fantastic and easy solution to flip your classroom.  Some of you may ask what I mean by flipping a classroom, check out my last blog: The Flipped Classroom: Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

Have you been thinking about how to flip your classroom?  Are you not sure what technology to use?  Let’s take a look at how LectureTools can help support your flipped classroom.

lecturetools flipped classroom

LectureTools is an interactive student response system.  It was designed to connect instructors with students in a synchronous face-to-face interactive environment.  However, take a new technology like LectureTools mixed with bright innovative teachers, and, voila!  You have an awesome and easy way to FLIP YOUR CLASS TODAY!

You may ask “what is so special about LectureTools?”

LectureTools offers everything the instructor needs to present materials to their students for a flipped class. 

  • EMBEDDED VIDEO - With the ability to embed both native (your own recorded video) and YouTube videos directly into the lecture slides students can seamlessly review their lecture, video clip to slides, then back to video clips.
  • ORGANIZED NOTE-TAKING - LectureTools also offers a very organized place for students to type their notes along side the lecture slides.  This keeps everything together in one neat place.
  • INTERACTIVE ACTIVITIES - LectureTools was designed to be an interactive student response system, so there are interactive activities that the instructor can insert to test the students’ understanding as they are going through their lecture.  Teachers can assess any misconceptions and address them in the next in class session.  These interactive activities are multiple-choice question, free response answer, re-ordered quiz, and our all-time favorite, the image quiz.
  • QUESTION & ANSWER INTERFACE - Finally, one of the greatest features that LectureTools offers both students and instructors is the question interface.  As students sit in their lecture (whether real time or synchronous) they may type in questions to their instructors.  All questions will be answered and shared anonymously with the entire class.  This is the virtual way of raising your hand and hoping to be called on, however in this format students’ questions can always be recognized.

Sign on to see what my flipped lecture of the study of the cell looks like:

Go to: https://my.lecturetools.com/ and use the following credentials:

email address: icon20@lecturetools.com

password: icon2011






Topics: emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Classroom Response Systems, Educational Technology, Student Response Systems, Flipped Instruction, Laptops in Education, The Flipped Classroom, Cloud Computing, Using Multimedia During Class

Just Push Play: Engage Your Students with Audio and Video Slides

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 @ 13:01 PM

If you want to show video clips or play audio for your class, you can now insert multimedia directly into your slide deck using new audio and video slides.

You can embed videos from YouTube, or upload an audio or video file from your desktop by selecting “Audio/Video Slide” from the Create Interactive Activity menu.

 select multimedia slide


When presenting, the multimedia items will show up in their own slides with a full suite of playback controls. Your students will also be able to play the media when they are reviewing their notes after class. Just push play!

video slide standalone


LectureTip: Wondering how to use multimedia to further improve student engagement? Try following an audio or video slide with an interactive activity to get your students to think critically about the material.

video slide thumbnailCreate an Account to Add Multimedia and Interactive Activities to Your Lecture Slides

Ready to upload PowerPoint slideshows, add activities, and create multimedia slides? Create a free instructor account to begin making your lectures more interactive.

Get Started with an Instructor Account Now

Topics: LectureTools News, New Features, interactive classroom technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Using Multimedia During Class

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted by Jason Aubrey on Tue, Dec 6, 2011 @ 10:12 AM

Ask questions with images and engage students. Instructors can upload any image, create a question, and ask students to place a dot on the image during their presentation.

Image Question Blog Post resized 600


The simple functionality of uploading images to LectureTools and posing a question, however, is not the only benefit of the Image Activity. When instructors pose image questions, students use their laptops or ipads to place a dot on the image and submit their answers. When ready, instructors can display results and see where students placed their answer. 


Image Answer Blog Post resized 600


It doesn't stop there. Use LectureTools to follow up with a free response activity and encourage students to think critically about their answer. Then, display the responses for discussion. 


Defend Your Answer blog post resized 600


Try the Image Activity with Your Students by Creating a Free Account

Ready to try our interactive presentation tool? Create an instructor account today to begin preparing engaging slideshows for your students.

Create an Account Now

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, Student Assessment, The Flipped Classroom, Cloud Computing

How to Get the Best Results with LectureTools

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 @ 09:08 AM

LectureTools has been designed with input from students and instructors to make class more engaging and to increase student attentiveness. To achieve the best results, however, quality pedagogy is essential.

When teaching new technologies, it is important to keep student learning in mind. Technology is only a tool – new instructional technology can give you more knives in the drawer, but you are still the chef.

A University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching study (PDF link) identified several “good” instructional practices that are supported through use of LectureTools, including frequent assessment of student learning, teaching with a rapid feedback cycle, and reflection on learning.

Three Levels of LectureTools Use by Faculty

The CRLT study used faculty interviews and student feedback to code how each course was taught. Researchers found that LectureTools use fell into three distinct categories:

  1. Presentation: Instructor uploads slides and presents information while students take notes.
  2. Interaction: Instructor uploads slides and then presents information, polls students using the integrated student response system, and utilized the student inquiry tool.
  3. Reflection: Instructor not only presents information in slides and asks questions, but also modifies the lecture based on student responses, reflects on class responses, and uses questions or responses for group work or class activities.

Wieman has argued that interactive teaching improves student learning, and the three categories of LectureTools can easily be ordered from least interactive (Presentation) to most (Reflection).

Differences in Engagement, Attentiveness, and Learning by Teaching Style

After categorizing each course into the appropriate level of use, the researchers compared student perceptions of attentiveness, engagement, and learning.


Identified Perceptions of Levels

  Attentiveness increased due to LectureTools LectureTools helped me to be engaged Learned more due to LectureTools
3.67* 3.83* 3.62*
3.39* 3.51* 3.49*
2.48 2.69 2.38

*Significant difference versus Presentation level classes with p<.001
1=significantly decreased, 5=significantly increased


Unsurprisingly, the data reveals that students in both interactive and reflective courses are significantly more attentive and engaged than their peers in presentation-based courses. Additionally, these students feel that they have learned more.

Conclusion and Best Practices

The CRLT study reveals that the more instructors take advantage of the interactive features of LectureTools, the more students feel they are much more engaged and attentive during class.

To achieve best results with LectureTools, it is important to use the interactive activities and the student inquiry channel. To move your class into the "Reflection" level use the activity results and student questions to help shape the lecture, facilitate peer instruction during and after activities, and spend time talking about student responses.


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Topics: 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, instructor interaction, instructor communication, student engagement, student engagement strategies, Student Response Systems, Laptops in Education, Learning Outcomes

Beta Instructors Reflect on Teaching With LectureTools

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Thu, Jun 16, 2011 @ 14:06 PM

lecturetools beta instructor discussion

Yesterday LectureTools hosted the five University of Michigan beta instructors for a round-table discussion about their experiences teaching with the LectureTools Beta this spring. Members of the development, design, and business teams sat alongside the beta instructors for the discussion over lunch.

Increasing Student-Instructor Interaction with LectureTools

The instructors were enthusiastic about LectureTools, particularly how interactive activities and the student inquiry channel facilitate real-time feedback from students.

Coleman Burns Discussion“It's that interactive piece, it's that accountability piece – and the feedback that I got from [my students] on Monday is that they really like that method of interactivity," said Dr. Patricia Coleman-Burns, who taught a 20-student nursing course. "The PowerPoint by itself, it's very passive.”

Although Coleman-Burns had a relatively small class, she found LectureTools still helped her to identify how her students were learning.

“I'm freer to really hear what they're not getting, I'm freer to get the gaps in their knowledge, I'm freer to give them this platform where they can fail without failing,” she said.

As a classroom response system, LectureTools allows instructors to pose multiple choice, ordered list, free response, or image quiz question types to students. At the instructor's option, the system can generate a results slide to display during class, revealing how students are thinking and enabling class discussion.

Dr. Marita Inglehart, who taught a 100-student Psychology of Dentistry lecture remarked she enjoyed being able to get a sense for how many of her students were answering her questions, instead of relying on just one or two students to share their views with the class.

Dr. Ken Balazovich often teaches courses of 400 or 500 students during the fall and winter semesters. This spring he saw the LectureTools Beta as a valuable “trial run” in his Molecular, Cellular, and Development Biology course of around 100 students.

“I've always used lots of questions, I demand interaction. What [students] don't want to do is make a wrong answer in front of 400 people,” he said.

Allowing students to work through problems in-class with the help of classroom response systems encourages them to think critically.

“They're a lot more open to taking risk,” said Coleman-Burns. “What we want them to do is learn.”


Addressing Student Comprehension and Questions During Lecture

Dr. Lynn Carpenter, who taught about 100 students in an introductory biology course this spring, and Balazovich both found value in LectureTools' student inquiry tool. Graduate student instructors were able to answer their students' questions while Carpenter and Balazovich went on teaching their lectures.

Another featured designed to allow students to report comprehension issues during class is the ability to flag a slide as “confusing.”

“If 10% say it's confusing, I'll go back and attack the problem in another way,” said Balazovich. “So I don't have a deli line outside my office with questions.”

Despite Balazovich's use of real-time feedback, he noted, “I don't teach any differently except I'm cognizant of confusing slides. It's the students who are learning differently.”

Having access to students responses and feedback during lecture makes the task of agile teaching easier for instructors in large classes.

“I loved the idea that I could get immediate feedback from my students during lecture,” said Inglehart.


Looking Forward to Future Courses and LectureTools Features

As the spring beta period comes to a close, the instructors found that most of their beta issues had been fixed by the development team. The meeting concluded with discussion about what comes next, both for the instructors and for LectureTools.

LectureTools Assessment Preview

Kiran Jagadeesh, Lead Software Engineer, also gave the beta instructors a brief sneak preview of the “Assessment” feature, which is expected to be live later this summer.

As the LectureTools team continues to look forward, so do the instructors who plan on using LectureTools in their fall courses later this year.

“Next time I'm going to expand on some of the interactive features and questions,” said Carpenter.

Learn More About the Instructor Interface Behind LectureTools

LectureTools Instructor Dashboard

Request a live demo today and learn more about how to create interactive slideshows and how to present engaging lectures using LectureTools.

Schedule a Live Demo

Topics: LectureTools News, interactive classroom technology, lecturetools beta, Teaching with Technology, Student-Instructor Interaction, Engaging Students in the Classroom

3 Ways to Use LMS Integration to Teach Interactive Lectures

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Mon, May 16, 2011 @ 14:05 PM

LectureTools was only one of many presenters at the 2011 Enriching Scholarship conference. The University of Michigan’s USE Lab also hosted a panel presentation: “Exemplary Teaching: Using CTools to Enhance Interactive Teaching.” During this session, four U-M faculty members discussed how they use interactive classroom technologies through CTools, U-M's version of Sakai, to improve student learning.

Using technology in a large political science lecture

One of the speakers was Dr. Mika LaVaque-Manty, a political science professor who is known for innovative uses of interactive classroom technologies.

View his talk below, or watch it on YouTube:

LaVaque-Manty centered his talk on the idea that you can "use [CTools] as a shell for a lot of things," meaning that he not only uses tools available through CTools, but also external tools integrated with CTools.

LaVaque-Manty highlighted three of the ways he uses CTools to teach interactively in a 250-student introductory political theory lecture.

3 Ways to Use LMS Integration to Teach Interactive Lectures

1. Facilitate interaction and peer instruction with a chat room

CTools Chat RoomThe first tool LaVaque-Manty discussed (3:30min-6:35min) was the CTools Chat Room, which is both a real-time and an archived chat application.

Students are able to ask substantive questions, which can then be answered by a graduate student instructor. The chat room feature is built into CTools and requires almost no configuration.

LaVaque-Manty also talked about holding “Chat Office Hours” through the chat room feature. He found that students were unlikely to ask questions during this designated time, but would ask questions throughout the day. He would address these questions when he was able to log on, but often, other students would jump in and answer their peers’ questions.

Effective use of the chat room demonstrated students’ skills at navigating familiar technologies. LaVaque-Manty, however, cautioned about the “myth of the tech savvy student,” which emphasizes the importance of simplicity and ease-of-use for technology in the classroom.


2. Integrate reading quizzes with LMS

One challenge in college courses is to ensure students complete assigned reading. For LaVaque-Manty’s political theory lecture, students are required to complete reading prior to each lecture, or approximately 26 times per semester.

To address this challenge, LaVaque-Manty has added a “Reading Questions” tool to his course’s CTools site (6:35min-10:15min). This function is an application of the UM.Lessons assessment tool, which links to the class roster and can be configured to use student uniqnames and Kerberos passwords.

Students are required to answer a few quick, substantive questions about the assigned readings prior to class. LaVaque-Manty also asks students how difficult they found the reading, enabling him to assess comprehension issues.

Prior to class LaVaque-Manty is able to quickly review the results in an online report and can adjust his lecture accordingly.


3. Use LectureTools to increase instructor-student interaction

LaVaque-Manty finished his talk by detailing how he utilizes LectureTools in his large lecture courses (10:15min-14:20min). Using LTI integration, LaVaque-Manty has added a gateway to LectureTools in his course’s CTools site.

Students are able to take notes associated with LaVaque-Manty’s slides and can report comprehension issues with material on a given slide. LaVaque-Manty can track comprehension during lecture in real time.

The student inquiry tool allows students to ask instructors questions. During class, LaVaque-Manty uses an iPad to monitor the question stream while his graduate student instructors answer the inquiries.

LaVaque-Manty said he believes that traditional student response systems “don’t work for humanities.” Thus, he utilizes the “smart” clicker function of LectureTools because of its various question types.

image map resultsAs an example, he showed results of an opinion poll posed as an image map question. Students were presented with a timeline marked with key years in the history of the United States and asked “When did the United States become democratic in your opinion?” The results revealed a wide variety of opinions about when the US became democratic and even whether democracy has been reached. Such questions can create opportunities for class discussions, even in large lectures.

LaVaque-Manty has found that with LectureTools, “students are interacting with me much more than they were before in a 250-student class.” He also noted that students are reporting greater satisfaction and he believes there is “clear evidence that students are learning.”


View the rest of the talks from the “Exemplary Teaching: Using CTools to Enhance Interactive Teaching” session on the U-M USE Lab’s YouTube Playlist and learn how other instructors are using technology in the classroom to facilitate interactive lectures and engage their students.

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, Teaching with Technology, Engaging Students in the Classroom, instructor interaction, student engagement strategies, Enriching Scholarship Conference, LMS Integration

LectureTools Presents at U-M Enriching Scholarship Conference

Posted by Christopher Machielse on Sat, May 7, 2011 @ 00:05 AM

enriching scholarship confeSeveral dozen University of Michigan instructors convened in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library to hear Dr. Perry Samson present at the “Using LectureTools to Improve Student Engagement in Large Classes” session yesterday as part of the Enriching Scholarship 2011 conference. The University of Michigan Teaching and Technology Collaborative holds these annual conferences on-campus in Ann Arbor to connect instructional faculty with resources and technologies that can be used for teaching, learning, and research.


Using LectureTools as a presentation tool

Dr. Perry Samson led the LectureTools session by presenting with LectureTools. Registered attendees were given student accounts and logged into the LectureTools Beta to engage with the presentation and to explore some of the features of the web application. The faculty at Enriching Scholarship were the first public group to use LectureTools.

The presentation began with a brief overview of Dr. Samson’s inspiration for creating LectureTools: blank looks in his 220-student lecture and a need that went beyond what traditional student response systems could offer. For the rest of the presentation, Dr. Samson highlighted the features of LectureTools, explained how both instructors and students can interact with the software, and talked about strategies to increase student engagement.


Engaging “students” with the student response system

Dr. Samson presents at Enriching Scholarship

LectureTools offers a powerful, web-based alternative to clickers. Dr. Samson used a free response activity to ask attendees what strategies they had used in large courses to engage students. Many reported they had used think-pair-share or small breakout group discussions. Attendees were also asked a multiple choice question about how often they used clickers over the last year. The majority reported never using clickers for large lectures. Ordered list and image map activities were also presented the faculty.


Fostering an interactive presentation

At the beginning of the session, Dr. Samson encouraged everyone to tweet using the Enriching Scholarship conference’s hashtag, #umttc. Some attendees took the opportunity to tweet about their favorite features, questions about LectureTools, or ask for help.

Most, however, used LectureTools’ student inquiry feature to ask questions they had about the application’s capabilities. This feature enables students to ask a question anonymously during lecture. Teaching assistants or the course instructor can filter through and answer the questions as they see fit. Answered questions are visible to the entire class, allowing students to learn via peer instruction. During the Enriching Scholarship session, another member of the LectureTools team acted as a TA to answer questions while Dr. Samson continued presenting.


Authenticity resulting from user feedback

After the presentation, audience members were encouraged to ask questions and provide their input. Several suggested minor changes to the interface or new features they would find useful. Dr. Samson remarked that one of thing that makes LectureTools unique is its “authenticity” – a product of its collaborative roots.

LectureTools is the result of input from research, faculty, and students. Input from the Enriching Scholarship attendees will be considered by the LectureTools development team, just as input from future students and instructors will continue to shape the product in the future.



University of Michigan Faculty: Did you miss the Enriching Scholarship session? Register online for hands-on training with LectureTools. A LectureTools Academic Consultant will visit your classroom and work with you personally to make your large class seem small with LectureTools.

Topics: classroom engagement strategies, emerging technologies in education, interactive classroom technology, enhance student engagement, lecturetools beta, Engaging Students in the Classroom, student engagement strategies, Enriching Scholarship Conference