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Clickers vs. LectureTools

Clickers vs. LectureTools

Best practices using LectureTools – How the University of Ottawa provides a campus-wide strategy

“I felt like a rock star and the students, they looked like rock stars, and I will never, ever forget this course!” – Colin Montpetit, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (English – French) university in the world. With more than 450 degree programs covering almost every field of human endeavor, the university has a strategic goal of strengthening every element of student connection. To that end, in 2013, U of Ottawa selected LectureTools as its campus-wide student engagement solution, which is now offered for free to all instructors and 30,000 students.

It was a win-win for students and instructors alike. Students were no longer required to purchase clicker systems or other niche devices, since they could access LectureTools through their own laptops, tablets and mobile phones. And instructors now had an easy-to-use active learning tool to improve student participation and engagement in class.

Marc Gareau, Director Multimedia Distribution Services at University of Ottawa and Colin Montpetit, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology shared their experiences in developing best practices using LectureTools campus-wide at our recent Active Learning Conference.  Here are just a few of the highlights of their presentation.

·         Today, there are more than 100 instructors at University of Ottawa using LectureTools. This is an almost tenfold increase over clicker systems, where on average, only 6-12 instructors employed clickers in their classroom.

In Colin Montpetit’s Introduction to Genetics course, he has used LectureTools to build community where students simultaneously are:

·         Engaged with the lecture content

·         Engaged with each other through peer-learning, and

·         Engaged with the professor

In Professor Montpetit’s view, LectureTools offered a number of advantages over traditional clicker systems. Those advantages included the ability to engage students and encourage participation in a variety of ways. Interactivity can be built into each lecture. Instructors can ask many kinds of questions to gauge student understanding including,

·         Multiple choice questions

·         Short answer questions

·         Ordered lists

·         Polls and surveys

·         Multimedia and image quizzes

Students are able to participate in these “low-stakes testing” activities anonymously. This further encourages participation. With an anonymous response, students do not have to fear “looking dumb” in class in front of their fellow students.

Monpetit’s results have been remarkable.

·         A nearly 60% learning gain using LectureTools versus clicker systems

·         Fewer failures

·         Top students performed better

·         Lower performing students also performed better

·         The gap between lower performing students and top students narrowed – lower performing students began to catch up with the top performers

Do you have thoughts on how you can increase student engagement in large lecture classes? Share your stories with us! Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #2014ALC. And don’t forget to follow Echo360 on Twitter!