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Texting questions in class

  1. Jul 19, 2015 #1
    I had an interesting idea in a dream, and unlike most dream ideas it still made sense when I woke up. When I'm teaching a large lecture, I know there are students who are afraid to ask questions because it feels awkward being that one voice in a hundred. My idea is to provide some sort of interface (maybe a website, or twitter, or sms) to let students send me questions electronically during the lecture. I could respond to them during class itself, or if I don't get to them I could respond to them after class. This wouldn't be in place of raising hands, but an additional channel.
    What do you think?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2015 #2

    Bystander

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    If you aren't getting feedback firsthand from a "large" group, an extra channel is NOT going to help.
     
  4. Jul 19, 2015 #3

    QuantumCurt

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    If the students can't speak up with their question, then they can come to office hours to ask them. That's my take on it. This is essentially encouraging them to distract themselves during class.
     
  5. Jul 19, 2015 #4

    vela

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    I think it would be worth a shot. There are website already available which will allow you to easily do this, though I can't remember the names of any right now. Twitter might work. One drawback is students having their smartphones out is another distraction for them; on the other hand, if you find that many of your students find it impossible to not use their phones during class, it's a way to take advantage of that and focus their attention on the material.
     
  6. Jul 19, 2015 #5

    symbolipoint

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    I agree with Bystander and QuantumCurt. Class time is for presentation and discussion of the material being taught. Cell phone, smart phones, and any internet/web-based interaction tool are modern fashion which could be used more fittingly outside of class time.
     
  7. Jul 19, 2015 #6
    I suppose the answer depends strongly on the broader question of how one feels about laptops and cell phones in the classroom. Personally, I only worry about them if they disrupt other students. I know that if I walk into class some day and say, for instance, that I've just posted their exam grades online, then a good portion of them will have looked up their grades before the end of class.

    Recently I've written a little AJAX chat plugin for my class website so students can chat with me without signing up for any particular service. I intended it for after-class use, but if I mention in a low-key way that students can use it during class too, and keep the interface open, it would be interesting to see if it gets used.
     
  8. Jul 19, 2015 #7

    vela

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    Here's a site you might want to look into: https://www.polleverywhere.com. I seem to recall hearing about another site which might be a bit more geared to what you're looking for, but I can't remember what it was called.
     
  9. Jul 19, 2015 #8

    berkeman

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    I think it's a great idea. Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

    One other thing that may end up happening -- you could get quiet corrections to misspoken items in your lecture -- I know that back in the day there were plent of times that my lecturer made verbal "typos" in their lecture, and I was conflicted in whether to raise my hand to correct them. On one hand it's disruptive to correct these verbal typos, but on the other hand they can confuse many students if not corrected quickly. If you had a monitor easily visible where you were checking it as time allowed, that could provide an easy and non-disruptive way to fix verbal typos in a timely manner.

    I know that the PF Mentors are dealing with the Mobile Age quite a bit in how we handle for forums now, and staying ahead of the curve with good, practical ideas will likely be a key going forward. :smile:
     
  10. Jul 19, 2015 #9
    Fortunately, I do get a good number of students who are willing to talk to me during class, and I would hate to lose that. But I know that I'm not hearing from everyone, and there are going to be students who are too timid to speak up.
    I know firsthand the allure of the web and the potential for distraction, but I'm not sure how much this will add to the general background level of distraction, if you get my meaning. And I like to get students' questions as soon as they come up; I think that's one of the prime benefits of a live class over a book or a video. Instant feedback. And I would choose a system where, if I can't answer their questions in class, I can get back to them later on.
     
  11. Jul 19, 2015 #10

    Bystander

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    Depends on how adept/averse you are at/to multi-tasking, and how adaptable you feel. "Wallflower" participation? Training motivated people interactively anywhere from twice a day to once every couple weeks is NOT the same as teaching in a lecture hall so, this should be taken with a 50# livestock block --- zero --- if you have to hold their hands to lead them across life's streets, get used to it --- they aren't ever going to take chances of being noticed for good or ill.
     
  12. Jul 20, 2015 #11
    I disagree with your characterization of this as hand-holding, or the suggestion that students who can't speak up in class are unable to take risks in other ways, or to succeed in academia. But I don't think an argument over it would be very fruitful, so I'll leave it at that. :)
     
  13. Jul 20, 2015 #12
    I agree with others here that it would just distract students more. They get their phones out to ask a question, and oh look they have a text, and a Facebook notification...

    What one of my professors did which I think was good was to have an online chat session for an hour every couple of days in addition to office hours. That way he wouldn't even have to know who the student was that was asking the question, and the student would feel more comfortable than going to office hours.
     
  14. Jul 21, 2015 #13

    Andy Resnick

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    Late to the discussion- I'm intrigued by the idea, but unclear how it would actually work. I imagine a substantial fraction of the questions would consist of little more than "Ugh! I'm so confused!" (assuming you don't have a steady stream of random unhelpful comments like "why do we need to know this?" or a twitter-like feed of rudeness).

    I (and my colleagues) also struggle with getting students to be engaged in class. There are lots of strategies ('classroom participation" as part of the grade, directly asking students questions, clickers, in-class group work, etc. etc), but the problem remains stubbornly resistant to solution. The online chat idea is good, if you are able to schedule the time.
     
  15. Aug 23, 2015 #14
    This is part of a much bigger issue, how does a one-to-many broadcaster such as a teacher/lecturer get feedback via the many-to-one channel. Many, many methods have been tried, and success is variable. In terms of passive students, who may actually harbour good questions, anonymity helps. This also has drawbacks for the teacher.

    My own favourite effect of this mechanism is the Enron Scandal Documentary, where Ken Lay accepts and then proceeds to read anonymous questions from his audience:

    [EDIT: I am unable to paste in the time point. It's at 1 hour 33 mins and 10 seconds into the video]
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  16. Aug 23, 2015 #15

    ZapperZ

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    Unless the student is adapted at multitasking, the time spent while texting you a question will be time when he/she will not be paying attention to what you are saying in class.

    I'm all for exploring new technologies at improving education, but letting students text you during class is not something I see as being a solution. If a student is too shy or do not want to ask you in class, there's always office hours, and there's always the ability to write to you an e-mail AFTER class.

    Zz.
     
  17. Aug 24, 2015 #16

    OCR

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    I cant even play it !?

    Blocked.JPG
     
  18. Aug 24, 2015 #17
    i like the idea - maybe tweet questions.

    I saw a report a while ago about a school that separated boys and girls in science class (below age 16 the girls are much better than the boys at science);

    after the separation, the boys scores went up; and the thinking was, that when with the girls they didn't want to lose face by either looking like a swot or an idiot, and the result was to keep quiet and not understand....

    so, yes, good idea; but as others point out implementing it so as not to make it a distraction is another thing...it will be interesting.

    The internet and mobile communications is changing, and will continue to change, the way we teach and the way we learn. As books disappear, replaced by tablets, allowing much more interaction, maybe your idea will become commonplace.
     
  19. Sep 3, 2015 #18
    OCR: well, on YouTube some things get taken off. Maybe a text description will do?

    Soon-to-be convict Ken Lay is boss of Enron before its implosion, and despite current bad news, gives a very upbeat presentation of the future of the company to a large assembly of his employees. Afterwards, he then reads out an anonymous question written on a piece paper handed up to him. It says: "Are you on crack? We don't believe you" (I'm paraphrasing).
     
  20. Sep 9, 2015 #19

    ZapperZ

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  21. Sep 9, 2015 #20

    Andy Resnick

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    But think of all the new jobs that are being created:

    https://www.higheredjobs.com/details.cfm?Jobcode=175944126&aID=565&print=yes [Broken]

    j/k
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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