December 9th, 2014 Meeting Recap

On December 9th we had our third and final user group meeting of the semester.  Heather Askildsen  and Megan Burke from ITS presented Poll Everywhere, an exciting online interactive audience response system, while Jermain Smith from the School of Education showed us the “gamification” of learning by providing examples of two companies on the cutting edge of this new approach.

PollEverywhereLogo

Heather and Megan demonstrated some premium features of Poll Everywhere and discussed how it could be implemented in an educational setting.  For those unfamiliar with the tool, Poll Everywhere is a web-based application that allows presenters to create polls and have their audience respond with a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.  The company offers a limited free version of this software, with the ability to purchase a subscription for some premium features.  Heather and Megan played a short video, which provides a good overview of the tool.  They provided several suggestions for the various ways in which instructors might be able to utilize this tool in the classroom.  Finally, their presentation concluded with a chance for attendees to participate in a live test.

Some of the ways Heather and Megan felt that Poll Everywhere would be helpful in the classroom include:

  • Taking Attendance – Professors have the option of creating a free response poll in which all posts are time stamped, so instructors know who got to class and when.
  • Checking for Student Understanding – Professors can make multiple choice polls and gauge how many students feel they understand the concept.  If some students are struggling to understand, then professors can use that feedback to focus the lecture better.
  • Encouraging Students – Professors have controls with the software of what they want to display to the class.  If they think a student posts something exceptional, they can call it out.  If a student sends something that is inappropriate, they have the option to block that content.

For more information on Poll Everywhere and to play around with the free version, you can head on over to their official site and try it out for yourself.  If anyone uses this tool, it would be nice to hear your thoughts and comments on this service.  If you have found innovative ways to use it in the classroom, feel free to share those too.

Jermain, Director of Technology for the School of Education, presented two companies that are combining modern technology and games to improve educational experiences for students.  The first company he introduced us to was Wavicle through an introductory video.  This company offers game based learning solutions and can help educators build game based courses that engage students in new ways.  The second company he presented was TeachLivE, which was developed in conjunction with the University of Central Florida.  This technology has already been implemented within the Avatar Labs for the School of Education at Pace.  This resource can be used to help train student teachers in speaking with students and classroom management skills.  Essentially, prospective instructors speak to an animated classroom and the students react and perform in real time.  Jermain played a video of a student teacher interacting with these avatars to help illustrate how his department was using this software.

A big thank you to Heather, Megan, and Jermain for taking the time to educate us in these exciting new technologies.

Wishing everyone a  peaceful and  relaxing break.  We will be having our first meeting of the Spring Semester, sometime in February.  Please stay tuned to the blog for the date and times for our spring meetings.  As always, feel free to comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts.