In this second edition of our monthly #5MinuteReflection, we will be looking at why and how you can make sessions interactive. #1MinuteCPD has covered a range of tools that enable interactive sessions and we thought it would be useful to pull these together into one handy article!
An interactive session is one where the students actively participate. Before we look at the tools you can use to help make this happen, let us take a minute to think about the benefits of this approach. Research has shown that student response systems offer good opportunities for feedback and are a great way to engage students in sessions (Voelkel & Bennett, 2014). The paper also highlights that the systems are easy to use, both for students and instructors, which is certainly something we would agree with.
A study by Henderson et al. (2018) looked at the impact of interactive sessions on student evaluation and found that many instructors experienced an increase. They explored the reasons for this and found that students think that these type of sessions are enjoyable and help them learn better. They also found that students like to use technology – music to our ears!
Our top tools for interactivity:
Quizlet – This was one of the first additions to my interactive session toolkit. The tool is focussed on a set of ‘flashcards’, which can then be used to create a variety of activities. Quizlet Live is a particularly useful tool when students are working in a group. #59 & #487
Twitter – Using Social Media with your students in the lecture theatre can be a great way to engage them. Consider asking students to tweet with a specific hashtag or participate in a Twitter poll. Combine with Hootfeed to present the Tweets in class. #79 & #484
Ombea – If you are new to using quiz tools in your sessions, Ombea is just what you need! Whilst it isn’t quite as sophisticated as some of the other tools on this list, it integrates into PowerPoint making it easy to navigate within sessions. #331, #335, #339, #343, #347, #351 & #363.
Nearpod – Rather than simply asking students to answer a quiz question, Nearpod allows instructors to share and control lessons, with a range of interactive activities, across all of the students devices. #81, #113, #121 & #133.
Mentimeter – Mentimeter is a nice tool that looks great and is easy to set up. One of my favourite activities is to ask students to contribute an emoji to a word cloud – it gives a nice visualisation of the feelings of the group. If you want to work within PowerPoint, Mentimeter is available as an add-in, which works really well. #346
Quizizz – Quizizz has a wide range of quizzes that have been created by teachers, making finding the perfect one easy. Students can work through the questions at their own pace allowing them time to think their ideas through. #70
Socrative – Socrative is a nice tool that allows you to create multiple choice and freehand questions for students. Socrative produces some great analytics, which can help inform your teaching and the students understand their areas of strength and weaknesses. #65
Padlet – Using a Padlet wall can be a really easy way to enable students to contribute to a session. It remains one of our favourite tools, despite the recent restrictions added to the free version #34, #53, #71, #129, #137, #185, #468, #470, #473 & #474.
Post it notes – sometimes the best solution is the least technological! Why not trying asking students to vote using a post-it note in order to create an instant graph.
To keep this article within 5 minutes, we haven’t been able to include all the possible tools, but we hope we have inspired you with our favourites! Is there something that you think should have made our list? Let us know in the comment section!
Henderson, C., Khan, R., & Dancy, M. (2018). Will my student evaluations decrease if I adopt an active learning instructional strategy?. American Journal of Physics, 86(12), 934-942.
Voelkel, S., & Bennett, D. (2014). New uses for a familiar technology: introducing mobile phone polling in large classes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51(1), 46-58.