Remember the days of waiting for someone to answer the question? Remember the silence and the awkward shifting in the seats? Technology has taken us from zero to sixty with the helpful Open-Ended Response Systems. Thanks to programs like Google Moderator, Poll Everywhere, IdeaScale and Response Ware, students are able to use electronic devices to engage in classroom discussion through posting comments and questions. Raising hands is a thing of the past.
It's simple, really. A teacher can post a question or discussion topic to the application. Students are then free to open the application and respond via tablets, iPhones, iTouches, etc. Not only can students reply to questions, but they can ask their own questions and then vote as a class on the most important questions to be discussed. Depending on the application, students can use their name, or use an anonymous name tag. This encourages uninhibited student engagement. Shy students are given a chance to speak up and everyone is given a chance to voice opinions. Students can see the questions and responses being posted on a live feed on their electronic devices or on the main screen at the front of the classroom.
For teachers, assessing student comprehension has become easier. Teachers have the same advantage and are able to answer questions as they appear. After class, a teacher can review and look over responses that the students were able to make individually. The advantage of having some responses being anonymous is that students aren't afraid to answer truthfully. This allows teachers to take the assessment seriously and improve future lessons.
Students are able to take this outside of the classroom by continuing the discussions on blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, and other online sources. Images and other multimedia can be posted and discussed further than the classroom discussions. This not only encourages further exploration and understanding outside of the classroom, but students are able to really enjoy learning and discussing the new topics.
Many schools are also updating their technology labs with tablets and touch devices for students to explore new ways of learning. With the ever-growing market for smart phones and tablets, the capabilities with Open-Ended Response Systems are endless. This is a great way for students to discuss the latest chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, or review test material for Poetry and Grammar. Whether it is individual efforts or a team win, students are able to connect to the material in a more engaged and personal way that they can carry with them outside of the classroom. I think this is a great way for students to take English material (or any other subject!) to a personal level of interest. I look forward to using these great advances of technology in my classroom one day.
For more information on Open-Ended Response Systems: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7068.pdf
Until next time...
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth." ~John F. Kennedy