In this issue
Technology in the classroom
By Nelson Roque
As part of your graduate training perhaps you plan to (or already do) teach undergraduate courses. When the time comes, it is important to consider what kind of technology (if any?) you would like to use in order to enhance your learning environment, especially as it relates to the kind of assessment methods you plan to use. Some of the technology mentioned below comes at a fee, either to the instructor or the student, so it is important to consider the benefits from these resources, over and above paper and pencil examinations.
iClicker audience response system technology has existed for quite some time now using their proprietary physical remote. Recently, they have introduced (in beta) Reef Polling and Reef Quizzing, two new ways to assess students with either single questions, or full-length quizzes, using their mobile phones, tablets (via native iOS and Android applications) and laptops (via a web app). These quizzes are automatically scored, with feedback administered for incorrect answers and the ability for students to review class session questions as a study guide.
These quizzes could be helpful to not only gain an understanding of course material, but also for instructor feedback at the end of lectures. This could be as simple as embedding the question into your PowerPoint presentations.
Brain Cog is a way to automate quiz administration for your classroom. Instead of administering paper quizzes, with this online utility, you can create multiple-choice quizzes that are delivered to students via your own custom URL. Importing your students is as simple as uploading an Excel spreadsheet. Once logged in, students will be able to view any quizzes available to them, and once they complete the exam they will not only receive the grade, but feedback on incorrect answers. If you have any students that have not taken their quiz, BrainCog will automatically send them a reminder to take their quiz.
If you would prefer offline assessments, then perhaps ExamSoft is worth a look, especially if WiFi infrastructure loads are a concern in your classroom. With ExamSoft, you can create your exams in Microsoft Word and import them to be delivered to your students via email. Students then download their exam, and using either their mobile devices, (or a printed copy paired with a Scantron) they can take their exams. Once exams are completed, they are automatically scored and analyzed. Instructors are able to view analytic reports for individual students and questions, entire exams and for the whole class. These analytics could be helpful when first starting out as an instructor because they allow you to find potentially misunderstood course material, in addition to gauging interest in particular topics or material delivery methods.