As a current LectureTools customer, you have first-hand experience of how our digital tools help increase your students’ engagement and participation in the classroom on a daily basis.
Now that we’re part of the Echo360 family, you have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore new ways of using LectureTools and study its impacts, then share your findings with the global community through the Echo360 Active Learning Grants Program!
We’re delighted to announce that LectureTools customers are now eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant offered through this exclusive program.
One of the new categories is a special LectureTools grant, reserved exclusively for schools currently using our solution in their classrooms. Whether you want to study how you use LectureTools to flip the classroom, boost engagement or assess student participation and understanding through analytics – the choice is yours.
You can also apply for one of the other new categories making their debut in the 2013 program. For a complete list of grant categories, criteria and previous recipients, visit the website and start making plans for your proposal today!
We encourage all LectureTools customers to take advantage of this unique opportunity and submit their proposals by the deadline of Friday, June 28.
Awarding students participation points for in-class activities can help to incentivize attendance and, more importantly, engagement with course material. Though LectureTools has always provided participation data in the Assess tab, instructors have had to export these student metrics to Excel to calculate grades.
Now, instructors using Blackboard as their LMS can easily import LectureTools Assessment participation data into their Blackboard Gradebook. You and your students can sign in to LectureTools straight from Blackboard, creating a single sign-on for both LectureTools and Blackboard.
If you already have a course set up in LectureTools, linking it to Blackboard is as easy as launching LectureTools from your LMS course tools and selecting it from a dropdown menu. If you haven’t used LectureTools before, an account will be created using Blackboard’s sign-on, and you can create a linked course in seconds.
Then, sending participation data is as simple as selecting lecture columns to include and clicking the “Send total to LMS” button.
The LectureTools data then shows up as a single column in the Blackboard Grade Center. Like any other assignment or exam column in gradebook, you can add the LectureTools column with a percentage weight to easily factor it into your students’ final course grades.
For more information about how to configure and use the Blackboard integration, visit the LMS Integration topic in our support portal. Don't use Blackboard? Watch out for later announcements about your LMS!
Unleash Analytics to Improve Teaching and Increase Learning
In-class quizzes and student Q&A help keep students attentive and engaged while providing you with real-time student comprehension data during class. See how LectureTools can increase participation and deliver learning analytics before, during, and after class.
Photo: Ed Yourdon
From Coursera to edX, “MOOC” has become one of the top education buzzwords of 2013, with some of the most powerful brands in higher education like Stanford, MIT, and the University of Michigan offering courses for free. These Massive Open Online Courses have been growing in number over the past year, and with over 2.7 million “students” on Coursera alone, it is easy to see why MOOCs have become the topic de jour.
With courses being taught online for free from the Harvards, Stanfords, and MITs of the world, will there be a place for the physical college campus experience in the future?
MOOCs share some characteristics of disruptive technologies
Wired notes that MOOCs have certain traits that have traditionally been held by disruptive technologies. MOOCs are serving people who aren’t already enrolled in college, making content free and accessible to those who otherwise would miss out. Additionally, with materials online, students have some flexibility with their schedules that students who must be in a brick-and-mortar room at a specific time do not.
MOOCs also are now at the point where their quality is allowing them to be desirable to “upmarket” users as supporting technologies like bandwidth and online sharing have proliferated. While they are not yet sufficient to meet the needs of many college students, they are beginning to approach a more rigorous standard that will increasingly meet the needs of consumers.
Why MOOCs aren’t ready to replace “traditional” colleges just yet
On paper, MOOCs sound like the revolution in education that we have been waiting for. But it isn’t that simple. While the features of MOOCs – captured lectures, the ability to discuss material with fellow students, and practice assignments – parallel or are similar to the traditional classroom, MOOCs have yet to see the same success.
Most importantly, only a small fraction of students who enroll in MOOCs go on to complete the course. This phenomenon is so pronounced that it caused Richard McKenzie, a UC—Irvine professor, to leave his Coursera “Microeconomics for Managers” course because of his 37,000 students, “fewer than 2 percent have been actively engaged in discussions.”
Professor McKenzie viewed uninformed or superfluous responses from students in discussion forums as an impediment to the learning of the students serious about completing the course. In this arena, MOOCs may not meet the standards of the traditional university because students in many cases may not be coming from the same level of commitment as their college-enrolled counterparts. Without tuition to pay or an official transcript, many who register for MOOCs could be enrolling simply out of curiosity – the stakes are low. Unlike the full-time student in a university who could be wasting tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for not devoting their full attention to a course, a Coursera user can leave a course at any time with no real consequences.
Though some MOOCs are beginning to offer certifications for students who want to prove their work in online courses, even the co-founder of Coursera doesn’t think they will reach the value of a traditional degree from one of the MOOC-provider’s partner institutions.
Lessons from MOOCs that can be applied to higher education via blended learning
MOOCs aren’t ready to replace the classroom experience for the majority of students yet. But, there are a few qualities of MOOCs that can be used in a blended learning class (i.e. combining both face-to-face instruction and online elements) to improve student learning and satisfaction.
Among these are providing ways to students to ask questions and get answers digitally. Personal capture (PCAP) and lecture capture videos are also great resources for students to access when studying after class, even if they are on a physical campus. Ultimately, digital tools and practice problem sets can enhance student learning in any course setup because they increase the opportunities for students to engage with material, think critically, and learn in the way that is most effective for them
How Students Consume Complex Concepts with Blended Learning
Attend our free webinar -- Snacking on Substance: Active Learning Cuts Rich Course Content into Bite-Sized Chunk -- to learn how students at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine consume complex concepts with some help from lecture capture and a student engagement system.
For many college students, another semester is underway. With it comes the juggling act between academics, clubs and sports teams, a part-time job, and – yes, even a social life. Time is a precious commodity, and that’s why LectureTools is an active learning platform designed to help students study more efficiently and learn more.
Here are a few tips on how to study smarter with LectureTools:
1. Take notes. Review them anywhere, anytime.
When professors cover material in class, take notes with each slide. Having the slide deck provided within LectureTools means you can rely on the course materials for basic understanding and definitions, and focus on examples and in-depth insights when you take notes.
Since notes are stored in the cloud, you can review them from any computer or iPad with an internet connection. Going offline? Print out your notes attached to the slides, or save them as a PDF to save paper (and to save on your printing quota).
2. Ask questions now, not the night before the exam.
The night before the exam is the last time you want to realize something from your instructor’s slides just doesn’t make sense. Even if your professor is quick to reply to your emails, and besides, cramming is probably not going to help you as much as you’d like it to.
Pay attention during class. When you get confused, don’t be shy: submit your question with LectureTools. You’ll get a notification when your instructor or teaching assistant answer your question. And with their help, you’ll already understand the material when exam time rolls around.
3. Check the question stream for Q&A from your peers.
While we’re still on the topic of questions, don’t only worry about your own. LectureTools will anonymously show you questions submitted by your classmates that have been answered by the instructor or TA.
These provide a great way to double-check your understanding – if you find yourself knowing how to answer most of the questions then you are likely in good shape for the exam. If you don’t, revise your study plan accordingly.
4. Practice with the activities from lecture
Re-reading material isn’t a bad idea. But be sure to actually engage with material when you are studying for that test. Chances are, the activities (multiple choice, free response, or otherwise) that your instructor gave as practice during lecture will bear at least some resemblance to future quiz questions.
Make sure, at minimum, you know how to approach the problems already discussed in class and can apply what you learned to other problems.
5. Don’t forget about your bookmarked and confusing slides.
So you marked a slide as confusing, or bookmarked it in LectureTools during class. Great! This will help you down the road and save you precious time during exam week because you are the best judge of which concepts are causing trouble, and which slides are the most important.
When the time comes to review, filter your slides. Make sure slides that you had marked confusing are no longer a problem, and use the bookmarked slides as a starting point for your studies.
6. Stop keeping your course materials in more than one place
There was once a time when you had to keep track of your notes, quizzes, and slides – and a lot of people just threw them into their backpacks. But you can use LectureTools as a comprehensive place for everything you need to study.
Avoid the need to carry everything around by using the cloud. And don’t even worry about having things spread across different websites and files on your computer. Just keep everything in one organized, central environment.
7. Go mobile with LectureTools for iPad
If your laptop is weighing you down or your school has an iPad initiative, get LectureTools for iPad. The app enables you to take notes and access every feature of the LectureTools web app in the intuitive interface of iPad. Oh, and the best part is that the app is included for free with your subscription.
Hopefully these tips help you ace those exams!
Learn More About the LectureTools Active Learning Platform
Let us give you a tour of both the student and instructor sides of LectureTools. LectureTools has been shown by the UM CRLT to increase student engagement and attentiveness. If you give students an opportunity to participate, they will.
You already know the norm. Students trudge to class, passively sit and feign attention while the professor lectures. After class, they sit down to do their homework or review for exams and have no idea how to start solving problems.
Enter the flipped classroom. Students watch videos and do reading outside of class, and valuable class time is used to solve problems and apply concepts. The instructor and fellow students (i.e. peer instructors) are thus present when students need the most help, enabling more active, hands-on learning.
Photo credit: Stanford EdTech
It sounds daunting. But if you are just looking to get your feet wet, here are six pointers you can follow to flip your classroom and see how it works with your teaching style:
1. Plan a gradual change
If you aren’t sure whether you are ready to change every aspect of your teaching, or if you are trying to make improvements to your course with limited time to edit or create materials, think of smaller changes you might be able to implement first.
Which things can be changed this semester? If there are topics you cover that you could record a short lecture of or find an online resource, could they be substituted for what you have used in the past for lecture? Better yet, are there questions that will get your students thinking more in-depth about how to apply concepts that you haven’t had time to cover in class in the past? Think of engaging problems that can test students’ understanding, generate useful dialogue, and facilitate peer instruction during class.
2. Stick with technology you know
The flipped classroom inherently requires the use of technology, as students must access videos, readings, and practice material online. It might sound complicated, but chances are that you are already using some technologies that can help you flip your class.
We’ve already talked about using LectureTools to flip your classroom because it allows you to share slides, videos, and practice quizzes with your students. But you can always share instructional material with students with lecture capture tools like Echo360 or even your LMS.
3. Share the goals of the flipped classroom with your students
Chances are, your students have been trained over the years to expect nothing but lecturing. Especially at first, some will be resistant to the flipped classroom – after all, life was much easier when they could just sit back in lecture without being held responsible for paying attention or the needs to engage with the class.
Their participation during the in-class sessions is dependent on them doing the assigned reading, watching your videos, and trying practice problems outside of class. The goal of the flipped classroom is, in its most basic form, to provide a more active learning experience during the face-to-face class sessions. This means students have access to you and their peers when they are working through problems. Once they realize the benefits, most students should buy-in to your new teaching method – after all, if you give students the opportunity to participate, they will.
4. Keep an eye on data to structure your class sessions
Robert Talbert, professor of mathematics at Grand Valley State University, notes that the flipped classroom requires more agility:
"In a traditional classroom setup, you prepare a lecture, and that lecture does not change between making it and giving it. Whereas, with the flipped classroom, I'm not really sure what my students are going to need to know once I get there. It doesn't make sense for me to prepare a lecture that covers the entire set of material. They may be really good at all of it and can jump right into the problem solving, or maybe they're stuck on one point that we really need to drill into."
Providing online assessments for students outside of class, whether option or mandatory, should provide you with some data on what students are struggling with, and which concepts they are having no trouble understanding. Even moreso than with “traditional” lectures, watch students’ performance to make sure class time is distributed between concepts appropriately.
5. Have students complete midterm course evaluations
Most institutions provide course evaluations at the end of every semester. But, if you are trying this new approach, it is advantageous to solicit feedback from your students before it is too late and the semester ends.
If you usually give midterm course evaluations, compare the results to feedback from students in previous semesters. You might even consider moving up the evaluations earlier in the semester or even adding a second midterm evaluation to make sure you are on the right track.
6. Reflect and Prepare for the Next Semester
When you’ve finished your first flipped class, take the time to examine the results. Student course evaluations, grades, and even your own impressions will be invaluable to determining how successful your flipped class was and what to try next. Keep the components that seemed to be effective, and find ways to improve the things that didn’t. Try to think of technologies you are less familiar with that could improve the experience further.
Have advice for newcomers looking to flip their classroom? Leave your tips in the comments!
Learn more about how to implement a flipped classroom with LectureTools
LectureTools is a cloud-based active learning platform that enables your students to practice with interactive activities, see and take notes on your slides, watch video lessons, and ask questions digitally. We'd love to show you LectureTools and discuss how it could be used to flip your class!
Dr. Morton O'Kelly, an Ohio State geography professor, still remembers the days of lecturing with overhead projectors. This fall, however, he adopted LectureTools for his Geography of Transportation course. Times have changed.
Increasing student engagement with technology
"[I] certainly notice a lot more student engagement in the class than maybe in the old pencil and paper and overhead projector days when maybe one or two students would constantly answer," said Dr. O'Kelly. "This time we know for sure that 60% of students at all times are giving us feedback."
LectureTools has provided an active learning platform for Dr. O'Kelly's students. Now, all of them are following along with his lectures during class. More importantly, multiple students are participating every day.
By incorporating poll questions, Dr. O'Kelly is able to break up his lectures, assess student comprehension, and engage students with the material. Professors have always been able to ask questions or have students solve example problems to test students on their understanding. But, particularly in larger lectures, it has been impossible to take answers from more than a handful of students.
Without fear of making a mistake in front of the entire class, over half of Dr. O'Kelly's students are now providing answers to his poll questions -- a huge increase over the handful of students who used to dominate such discussions. Increased participation on poll questions provides a larger sample size for instructors to get a better sense for what students are struggling with in real-time.
Getting Teaching Assistants more involved with the class
In addition to providing feedback to instructors, LectureTools opens up communication between students and TAs.
"I feel a lot more involved in the class because I get to answer questions as we go along," said John Corvo, Dr. O'Kelly's teaching assistant.
Both instructors and their teaching assistants can answer questions students submit using LectureTools, making the question and answer anonymously visible to the entire class. Students no longer need to interrupt their professor or risk embarrassing themselves in front of their classmates to ask a question.
Because of this, students are more likely to take advantage of their TAs. It's the perfect balance between moving forward with lecture material and interacting with students on an individual level to clear up any confusion.
Read more at the OSU Digital Union.
Photo: Vandy CFT
Improve student engagement in your classroom
LectureTools provides an active learning platform for your students. Schedule a 30-minute live demo and learn how LectureTools could improve student engagement and increase participation in your class.
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LectureTools provides an active learning platform that makes it easier for professors to teach more interactively, engaging students with laptops during class. Matt Stearmer, an instructor at Ohio State, however, finds that LectureTools helps engage his students not only during, but also before and after class.
Here are the 3 ways Matt uses LectureTools to teach his Introduction to Sociological Theory class:
1. Provide content before class
Matt posts the material the class will be covering for the week on LectureTools in advance. This provides students with the foundation to better understand the textbook reading and have the definitions before the first class of the week.
Giving students exposure to the concepts for upcoming lectures allows Matt to teach beyond a surface understanding. Rather than introducing concepts in class, he is able to allot more time in class to discussions, specific examples, and details.
2. Use in-class activities to create times for telling
Matt uses the interactive activities in LectureTools as a way to create times for telling. Asking students a question allows them to practice applying concepts from class. Even if students miss the question, it provides an opportunity for them to see that they weren’t alone in their answer choice and learn why their answer was perhaps partially, but not fully, correct. Such questions are a great way to spark a class discussion.
3. Measure understanding with practice quizzes
Because students see changes made to published lectures, Matt also uses activity slides to put practice quizzes online on Friday. He then notifies his students that questions are online, and reveals the answers the next day. About half of his class tries these optional practice quizzes before answers are posted.
The results help Matt identify where students are struggling and help students get an idea of what material they will be responsible for on Matt’s in-class quizzes. Matt is able to use the quiz results and questions that his students submit to prepare his slides for the next week, ensuring that he includes material to help clear up any confusion.
Learn How to Improve Engagement in Your Classroom
Request a 30-minute live demo and learn how the active learning platform provided by LectureTools could help increase student engagement and attentiveness in your class.
An Active Learning Platform
In 2005 Dr. Perry Samson started LectureTools at the University of Michigan as a research project with one goal: to revolutionize the classroom and to engage students with their laptops and cellphones, regardless of class size.
LectureTools launched commercially in August 2011 and has since been adopted by professors at over 30 universities and colleges across the United States, Canada, and Asia. Today, we are excited to announce that we are joining forces with Echo360, whose lecture capture technology is in use at over 600 schools across the globe and backed by Steve Case's Revolution Growth.
LectureTools: An Active Learning Platform on Vimeo.
Echo360 provides not only resources, but also a like-minded vision and talented employees that will help us achieve our long-term goal of building an active learning platform that revolutionizes the way people teach and learn using technology in and out of the classroom. This is not the end of LectureTools, rather, a new beginning, and current accounts will not be affected. LectureTools will always exist and it will continue to improve as a stand alone product. It will also be developing an integrated solution with lecture capture and other active learning features.
We would like to extend a special thank you to our early adopters, who have given us amazing feedback and their continued support. We look forward to continuing our work with you and the Echo360 team.
To a new beginning,
The LectureTools team.
Samson is also a co-founder of the Weather Underground, which sold in the summer to the Weather Channel, with a group of former students. LectureTools also sprouted with a dedicated group of recently graduated U-M students including Jason Aubrey, Bret Squire and Sharanyan Ravi. Aubrey, co-founder of LectureTools, joins Echo360 as a product manager while Squire and Ravi join as developers.
We would also like to say thank you to a few key players in the LectureTools story – University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Michigan TechArb, University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer, The National Science Foundation, our advisor Jim Sterken, and the instructors and students who have helped us grow.
Make your class more interactive: click below and become the next addition to our team!
LectureTools: An engaging presentation tool to use in the classroom
Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, uses LectureTools in his introductory-level courses.
While searching for an alternative to clickers to use in his classes, Jim Barbour, chair of the economics department and associate professor of economics, stumbled upon LectureTools.
Run by a five-person team in Ann Arbor, Mich.,LectureTools is an engaging, web-based program that allows instructors to create interactive presentations.
“I was looking for something that was more robust,” Barbour said. “Think of [LectureTools] as a combination of clickers, Facebook and Twitter all rolled into one.”
By uploading preexisting PowerPoint presentations to LectureTools, instructors can enhance classroom materials by incorporating multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides. Students can access presentations on their own devices by logging in to the program.
“All of this is like a clicker on steroids,” Barbour said. “But now, you don’t have to keep track of the clickers, and you don’t have to charge them up.”
Instructors can enhace classroom materials by incorpoarting multiple-choice, short-answer or ordering questions, as well as images and videos onto slides.
LectureTools is free for instructors, Barbour said, while students must pay a flat $15 fee at the beginning of the semester.
LectureTools works best on laptops, tablets and smartphones, Barbour said, though students can still participate if he or she has a mobile phone with texting capabilities.
Barbour said out of the seventy-odd students he has had in his LectureTools-based classes, only one did not have a laptop, tablet, smartphone or phone with texting capabilities. Because of this, Barbour is lending his Kindle to the student.
“There are places [students can] checkout [laptops] from the school, so I’ve run into that once out of 74 students,” Barbour said. “It’s probably going to be a problem less and less as we go forward.”
Students can control the view of their individual screens, take notes on slides, mark slides as confusing, bookmark slides to review later and direct questions to instructors by typing inquiries into a comment box.
While logged in to LectureTools, students can control the view of their individual screens. Students can take notes on the slides, and because the program is web-based, students’ notes are saved online and can be accessed later.
Freshman Michelle Rich, a student in Barbour’s introductory-level economics class, said she likes the flexibility of LectureTools in that it allows her to control what slide is displayed on her screen. She said she likes the interactivity of the technology too, because it helps her to better learn the material.
“LectureTools is helpful, but I am still adapting to this new way of learning,” she said. “I really like how my professor asks us questions through LectureTools because it tests us while we’re learning.”
Students can mark presentation slides as confusing, and they can bookmark slides to review later. Further, students can direct questions to instructors by typing them into a comment box, and professors receive those inquiries instantly.
“It’s another way for me to communicate with the class, and that’s really what I’m interested in because at the core, we are storytelling creatures,” Barbour said. “This allows me to tailor the story as I go to match what the class seems to need. Any good instructor always does that.”
LectureTools records all student activity and converts the data into a report, which is sent to an instructor approximately 20 minutes after class is over.
Students in Barbour's introductory-level economics class collaborate on a short-answer question.
ctober 30, 2012. For full article click here.
To use LectureTools and start increasing engagement in YOUR classroom click here:
In the past, there were limitations to your ability to solve problems in the classroom. But, as computer app development becomes more accessible, it opens up a new avenue for solving education-related problems on your own, or at least partly so.
Perry Samson, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, recognized this new reality earlier than most. In 2005, he began building a tech-based solution to a frustration he had with classroom response systems, or clickers. He felt clickers weren’t engaging enough and only offered a snapshot of students’ understanding, rather than the full picture. Five years later, his solution became a commercial product, LectureTools, which allows instructors to create and share presentations and receive real-time feedback from students.
Now, Dr. Samson can say two things. First, if students are given more opportunities to participate in class, they will. And, second, the best education technology products are built by instructors and students themselves.
So, if you’re considering taking matters into your own hands, learn from Samson’s experience about how to approach the app-creation process.
5 Indispensable Tips for Creating an Education App
Know the literature. Have a broad understanding of the latest research on best practices in teaching and learning, because from this point you can do an audit of available (or potentially available) technology to help you apply those practices. In Samson’s case, this meant knowing that what works in education is giving students opportunities to discuss material and to ask questions among themselves and the instructor. LectureTools allows for that kind of communication. What began, then, with an understanding of the literature became an effective education technology tied specifically to best practices. “It’s about looking at what’s been learned in the education research,” Samson says, “and determining where we can use technology to embrace those learnings.”
Be tech savvy… to a point. Samson describes a model that he thinks works best for building an application: First, the person with the “big idea” should be able to build a prototype demonstrating its core capabilities. Then, that person should hand it over to a professional who can make the technology work. Having the grace to back away, as Samson refers to it, can be difficult not only because you’re separating yourself from something you created, but also because assembling the right team of professionals requires patience and diligence.
Devote yourself to early-stage development. Depending on your tech chops, the prototype could be either a drawing or an actual simple webpage. The webpage will yield more valuable feedback because your potential users will be able to try the app out, which allows you to record user interaction and redesign in response to what you learn. “You learn a lot in a hurry by having a fairly limited number of encounters,” Samson says. In fact, he calls the process of developing LectureTools “organic,” since many of its features were a result of instructors and students coming up with ideas to make the application more useful. He also encourages getting a wide range of feedback, because what works for you may not work for your colleagues in other disciplines.
Get students involved. One constant throughout the development of LectureTools, and its recently released iPad app, was student involvement in everything from building the prototype to offering suggestions for future iterations. Samson relied heavily on students from the university’s College of Engineering and School of Information. He recruited them through announcements targeting those who wanted to get involved in an entrepreneurial education-related project. “Students respond very strongly to that because it’s a way they can be involved in creating something that’s got social value,” he says. Every university has students who are interested in and skilled at coding, design and usability; leveraging that is key, especially since these students are also future users — and, involvement can provide them with portfolio pieces. Students are also great at spreading the word about your product. If a student asks her professor to consider using a particular product, the professor might be more likely to do so than if the same request came from other faculty or administration.
Explore your money options. You can build a one-trick app for a couple hundred dollars, or a more robust program for several thousand. Either way, there are opportunities for funding if you’re resourceful enough to find them. LectureTools has been awarded funds a couple of times by the National Science Foundation. (Click here to check out a NSF grant opportunity coming up in early December.) If you’re building a less involved app, websites like Instant App Wizard, uBuildApp, App Designer, and Apps Maker Store, as well as Apple’s iOS Development Center can guide you through the process for far cheaper than it costs to contract a programmer and designer.
Please share in the comments your thoughts on instructor-developed apps.
October 29, 2012