Bruce Hay, a biology teacher at the California Institute of Technology, has recently come up with a way to integrate more participation into his classroom and, as a result, seen an increase in the average grades of his students.
He started using an app called SKIES (Su-Kam Intelligent Education Systems) that allows students to create an interconnected web of knowledge about a topic that a professor is teaching. Hay states that “if you don’t have participation, then you’re not getting any feedback on what students are learning…It’s just a half an hour monologue without really knowing that you’re getting through to anyone.” He also explains that it is important that the students become more interactive instead of a passive audience.
Anyone can use the app – university students and professors, or K-12 students and teachers. The material that students can post on SKIES can range from text, pictures, drawings, audio clips, links or videos. This also lets students learn from each other rather than just the teacher being the sole source of knowledge in the class.
While Hay is lecturing in his classroom, you will be able to see yellow bubbles pop up on the powerpoint he is presenting behind him. Those bubbles are the questions and comments that students are leaving on the app. Students are also able to thumbs up or thumbs down slides; green slides will have a thumbs up, while red slides have a thumbs down. Hay will be able to see which slides students were able to grasp versus which might have been confusing. Some instructors worry, however, that students who post things onto the app during a live lecture will become distracted. Some professors then ask that the students post only after the lecture, as students already seem to be multitasking enough during class.
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