We are in an exciting era of educational technology. Universities are starting huge new campaigns to increase engagement and use innovation for the greater good of academia. A veritable hurricane of buzzwords. One can assume that a certain percentage of all this is just hopping on the trending train but, it does seem that most organizations are embracing the growing use of web/data enabled devices as opposed to shaming their students for even thinking about their phones during class. This is good. We encourage all the teachers we meet to embrace phones and computers in their classes, after all, this train has left the station and we might as well try to turn these technologies into positive aspects of our classes. At the same time, we see a response to this demand from some fantastic companies like Top Hat, Poll Everywhere, Piazza and many others. It is, however, important to remember that just declaring these intentions does not make the execution of these grand goals logical, efficient or effective. Let’s delve deeper, shall we?
Student response systems are needed to test and prove that (a) our teachers are effective and (b) that our educational institutions are effective. Many people would say, ‘Hey, hold on Danny. We use those for engagement!’ This may be true as a single modality but, at the end of the day, student response systems are an insurance policy for institutions. They are proving, by the fancy looking metrics they provide, that their teachers are effective and worth the resources that they put towards them. Research universities have to prove their research is having an effect in order to secure their next year’s grants. Private schools must prove that they provide an substantial value proposition (the degree is worth the cost) in order to keep getting students and more funding to continue. Both can be easily done through vast amounts of metadata but, they must have a large amount of their teachers using student response systems to make this work. This is fantastic in the way that these systems can also increase efficiency but most of them are strongly quantitative. Students are going to school to receive an education and learn. Why is it then that we have our teachers focused on asking the students questions versus allowing students to easily ask the questions they want to know the answers to? I understand that there needs to be a certain amount of prodding done (teachers starting the conversation) but, at some point, if effective learning is to be sustainable, the reigns of curiosity need to be handed over to the students.
We, here at 2Shoes, are focused on student input instead of response. This is partially due to the fact that there are many companies already doing a fantastic job at student response but also because we believe that the ones learning should be the ones asking the questions. And it should be easy and comfortable! How can teachers be efficient and effective if they don’t know if their students are confused or don’t understand certain subjects? Staring at poll response graphs will only do so much to understand our students. We need to be proactive in allowing, and encouraging, our students to ask as many questions, and get the most out of their education, as possible. By doing so, we can make the whole system more efficient and effective at delivering a high quality education every time.
2Shoes does not hold all the chips. We are not claiming to be an all inclusive educational system that has every tool known to man. What we are doing is providing a critical piece to the educational puzzle that is currently missing. By doing so, we hope to make the experience of all parties involved fruitful.
Hear and Forget
See and Remember
Do and Understand