Recap: ELDT Show and Tell, Apr 18, Technology for large group teaching

The Show and Tell on Technology for Large Group Teaching was well attended by various departments.

Formative assessment and feedback in lectures – Mentimeter

Keywords: active learning, electronic voting systems, Mentimeter, Responseware, engagement, feedback, large lectures

mentimeter logoDr Sally Quinn from the Department of Psychology began the session by showing us how she used Mentimeter as an engagement and feedback tool in her lectures. Mentimeter is a third-party tool that can be used for polling students or gathering open-text answers from them. Sally chose this over the University’s supported polling tool, Responseware, because she found it easy to use and set up and it fit in with what she wanted to achieve. She also found it looked more appealing on the mobile phone (students access menti.com to enter the poll).

Apart from keeping the students engaged and actively thinking throughout the lecture, Sally found that the anonymity was highly valued by students. They also valued being able to ask questions without disrupting her throughout the lecture. Mentimeter has a segmentation feature that can help the lecturer to see relationships between the data from various questions. The open-question feature allows the lecturer to review these and mark them as answered at intervals throughout the lecture.

Key learning points:

  • If starting to use such a tool for the first time, seek advice on the type of questions you’re asking. How might a 20-year-old respond to your question? Consider contacting other experienced colleagues or ELDT for feedback on your question design.
  • Ask the students to work in pairs to overcome any access issues.
  • Images may not be sufficiently large if uploaded to Mentimeter. Consider alternative ways of presenting these if necessary.
  • Responseware is the better option if
    • you want to monitor each student’s participation or score over time,
    • you want to store the responses as part of the lecture PowerPoint.
  • Mentimeter is a third party tool (consider privacy and data protection) and there is a cost involved if you need functionality beyond the free version.

To view these and other learning points, access the recording of Dr Sally Quinn’s presentation (19 min) (UoY login required).

Mentimeter screenshot - coloured bar charts showing responses from audience

Although using polling tools in lectures can eat into valuable lecture time, the returns on learning can be significant. Using the Think-Pair-Share or Peer Instruction techniques can further enhance the learning opportunities. If you are interested in learning to use polling tools at the University, please do get in touch with the ELDT department.


Group work, e-marking and feedback

Keywords: group work, e-marking, Google docs, VLE, collaborative tools, employability, digital capabilities

Dr Alex Gillett presenting at ELDT Show and Tell

Dr Alex Gillett from The York Management School provided insight into ways of marking and providing feedback to increasingly large cohorts of learners. Group work provides opportunities for students from different backgrounds and experiences to learn from one another as well as modelling the group work and team skills required for the business world.

Alex consulted with ELDT from the planning stages and over time to continually improve the design of the activities. Each group had to prepare a 5000-word business proposal and a 15-minute presentation. Included in the proposal were the terms of reference agreed by the students for how they were going to work together using collaborative tools. They were encouraged to use Google tools, supplemented by VLE tools if students were away from the University and had no access to Google. Using Google Docs allowed the students to experience working on a document collaboratively. The use of online spaces helped to supplement the face to face group working activities. Avoiding the use of the students’ regular social media spaces was key to making things work without distraction, although some groups chose to stick with their preferred online spaces.

The turnaround time for formative feedback on their assignment drafts assignment was around two weeks. Although Alex had other tutors to help with the marking, the use of e-marking and a good rubric meant that assignments could be quickly marked up with specific feedback and each group could see what they might have to do to improve using the generic performance statements on the rubric. Team marking using the VLE tools allowed standardisation across markers and efficiency that would otherwise not be possible.

Key learning points:

  • Consult with ELDT early on in the best tools to use and how to design and manage group working online.
  • Formative marking without grades helped to engage students with the qualitative statements.
  • Provide a clear disclaimer to students that
    • formative feedback is not necessarily an indication of the final mark.
    • the turnaround time is not necessarily going to be that quick for the summative assignment.

One additional advantage to e-marking was that students no longer struggled with tutors’ handwriting!

To view the session in more detail and find out more about lessons learned, access the recording of Dr Alex Gillett’s presentation (29 min) (UoY login required) and slides used in the presentation.


What next

Review our advice on the York TEL handbook if you’re inspired to try out group working with collaborative tools, e-marking or the use of rubrics.

Case studies that may also be useful can be found on our WordPress York TEL handbook page.

If you have any questions about anything that was covered in the Show and Tell, please don’t hesitate to contact the E-Learning Development Team (vle-support@york.ac.uk), Dr Sally Quinn (sally.quinn@york.ac.uk) or Dr Alex Gillettt (alex.gillett@york.ac.uk).

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