J2.8 Beyond multiple-choice and clickers: using mobile devices for multi-dimensional feedback in the classroom

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 5:15 PM
Room 13AB (Austin Convention Center)
Ramalingam Saravanan, Texas A & M Univ., College Station, TX

Mobile devices are ubiquitous in the modern classroom. Rather than always treat them as potential distractions that must be switched off, one should perhaps explore ways in which these devices can be used to promote classroom interaction in a structured manner. This presentation will describe the early stages of developing and testing a mobile web app, Mindmeldr (info.mindmeldr.com), which was created in response to the limitations of single-purpose tools for instant assessment.

The goal of the Mindmeldr project is to seamlessly combine basic presentation capabilities with instant polling/texting using mobile devices. Every slide in a Mindmeldr presentation can have different levels of engagement with the audience. The audience feedback levels can range from no feedback, which would correspond to pure presentation, to polling (multiple-choice), comments, numeric/textual answers, word clouds, and even graphical feedback, such as marking a point or drawing a curve. Graphical feedback can be particularly useful in the teaching of atmospheric science, where maps and charts play a much bigger role than in many other fields.

Mindmeldr leverages the availability of smart phone, tablets, and laptops in today's classroom. Going beyond clickers, these smart devices can be used to provide more nuanced forms of feedback to the instructor, such as moderated comments and explaining the reasoning behind multiple-choice answer selections. Using a web app also enables leveraging the existing social networking infrastructure, such as using Twitter to aggregate text messages sent by the audience, and using Facebook/Google for authentication.

The presentation will discuss the technical and non-technical challenges encountered during the development of the web app and its use in actual classroom settings, such as internet accessibility, privacy issues etc. In its early version, the web app was used simultaneously with clickers in a hybrid setting, so that the students had a choice of using either tool. Student feedback on the relative merits of the two technologies will be presented. If time permits, an interactive “hands-on” demonstration of the mobile web app can also be arranged, as it requires no special equipment for the audience.

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