Recently we followed up with Dr Michael Rehm from University of Auckland’s Business School, on how he uses student response systems such as Xorro Q in his courses.
According to Michael, the student response system has totally changed education. Traditionally, engagement in a classroom has relied on techniques such as breaking the class into groups and having discussions. The problem of how to achieve the active participation of every student is either ignored, or addressed through some “forced” method such as picking a student at random to answer a question. Michael feels this “lottery” approach is uncomfortable for everyone, and counter-productive to making class time enjoyable and risk-free for learners.
A student response system such as Xorro-Q helps achieve the active participation of every single person in the class. Using student response systems properly ensures that participants enjoy a rewarding, risk free participative experience. In these circumstances, students’ feedback on use of student response systems is excellent.
Because student response systems achieve instant delivery and instant assessment of students’ readiness, they disrupt the previous content-heavy teaching paradigm, replacing it with a leaner, higher value student-responsive approach. Educators can ask questions instantly and spontaneously, and can automatically assess responses to these. This assessment can be stored and included in an overall course assessment. Alternatively, students may be rewarded for participation (as opposed to “correctness” of responses) through a portion of their grades. Either way, the student response system makes this instant and effortless.
Although many educators are wary of using student response systems for assessment, this too needs realistic review in today’s context. Historically, setting and grading assessments is an onerous task for educators, while sitting them presents a fearsome hurdle for learners. By using student response systems, frequent low-stakes assessments become an easily integrated (and even enjoyable!) part of the learning experience
Since students are digital natives, they are already very comfortable bringing and using their own devices in class. This makes it easy to implement student response systems, in comparison to previous years when distributing and using clickers presented logistical and financial challenges.
Michael has been using student response systems in undergraduate courses since 2012. He has converted his teaching to an online blended learning model, with all lectures accessible online. These supporting materials are highly interactive, including embedded quizzes and links to supplementary materials on Youtube, etc. Students are expected to go through these materials in their own time. This leaves the face to face tutorial sessions to focus on student-led needs and extensions. These tutorials can also be attended by online participants, and are enabled by a real-time student response system.
The tutorials begin with quizzes to determine the group’s requirements. Michael uses the student response system to deliver these quizzes to all participants. Delivery is instant, as is assessment. The areas requiring tutorial focus are easily identified. Michael has been using Xorro Q and TopHat for this purpose.
Michael observes that Xorro-Q makes quizzes more fun by exploiting competition among students. Michael’s careful use of Xorro-Q’s “Not Yet Answered” panel can display the names of students not answering questions, and in this way deliver a gentle reminder that participation is an essential and expected part of learning in Michael’s courses.
Although Michael finds Student Response systems very beneficial for the students, there remains a significant challenge. The benefit for learning is proven, however educators need to be motivated to make use of the new opportunity to add more value in face-to-face teaching. Being responsive and adaptable requires re-learning how to interact valuably with large groups in live sessions. This in turn stretches the time and resources available to educators and faculty administrators.