Best Practice

Add Interactivity to the Classroom

The what?

It’s hard to be a lecturer these days. The competing demands of workload, worklife, homelife, personal life and so on.  And that’s before we even get into the lecture theatre.

Once in there, the real work starts. Massive lecture halls filled with students who may be part listening, not listening, on Facebook, Snapchat, or even the old-fashioned lo-fi distraction of gazing out the window.

While by no means a silver bullet, there are now a number of tools which lecturers can avail of in order to both embrace the use of many devices in the class as a means of keeping students engaged. One of these tools is Socrative.

Socrative is a mobile version of Clickers. Never heard of Clickers? You can learn more about them in this short video.

 

The why?

Essentially, what Clickers and Socrative both do are create interactive moments within the class. If you are familiar with various Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs), you will also know that getting feedback from your students at various points throughout a class or lecture helps you gain insight into how they are understanding or able to apply the information. Socrative does this in a way that allows you to get the feedback immediately, meaning you can deliver ‘just in time’ revision or consolidation of information as fits the students’ needs at that time.

 

The how?

You can sign up for a free Socrative account online which will give access to 50 devices in the ‘room’ at one time. There are also a number of ‘how to’ guides on the site which help you set up your account and the rooms and give ideas about its uses.

For this blog post, I am going to focus on the top 3 uses I have found for Socrative, purely on my own experience.

1. Quiz questions

Create multiple choice or short-answer questions based on content. The results can be ‘live beamed’ so the rest of the class can see results. Teachable moments are then created based on how correct the answers are – e.g. 50% of the class chose A and 50% chose B – how do the students who chose A justify their answers to B? And so on.

2. Generating student feedback

We all know how much students hate giving feedback and how hopeless the rest of us tend to be when asked to complete a survey. With Socrative you can put questions to the students in terms of feedback of the content, teaching methods and so on. You can disable names so that the feedback in anonymous. Results are then collated for you in exportable format such as an excel spreadsheet and voila, you have your end of semester evaluations!

3. Ongoing assessment/tracking of performance

Invariably the students who should be asking for help don’t. With Socrative you can track progress of students based on their answers to quiz questions by exporting the data around how students have responded to the questions posed in class. If you want to be really savvy you can then use it to inform peer-learning strategies in the class, teaming students who are rating well with the content with those who aren’t doing so well.

 

The reality?

Pros: Easy to use, generated data for use in terms of course design, evaluation, feedback, keeping tabs on student progress

Cons: Wifi/connectivity, not everyone in the class might have access to a device. Also it can be unreliable with heavy use e.g. more than 50 students logged in at once. Also questions around how many students can log in at the one time – this varies depending on who you speak to.

In summary, I strongly recommend trying out Socrative in class, perhaps starting out with smaller groups until you get the hang of it.

Link to my prezi: https://prezi.com/atar_zs0pvyn/socrative/

By Briony Supple

Twitter: @babybee333