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.
At Duke University. 95% of its students bring computers to campus, with 95% of those being laptops. Laptops are changing the ways students learn in class, as well as the way (and the places) students study.
Many students and professors alike agree that laptops can serve as distractions during class. So much so, in fact, that about a third of the sociology department faculty at Duke has banned laptops from their classrooms.
And not only are students who spend class surfing the web, emailing, and uploading photos to Facebook distracted, but these activities can also be distracting to other students sitting beside or behind them. But is banning laptops the solution to the problem?
Engaging laptops to improve student attentiveness
A laissez faire approach to laptops in the classroom will often lead to distraction. Lecturing at students is a technique that has been used for hundreds of years – its effectiveness can perhaps best be represented by the age-old image of students sleeping in class.
But despite their potential to distract, instructors who change their style of teaching to reflect the new ways students are thinking and engaging with the world outside of the classroom are more successful at getting students to stay away from social networking sites and getting them to pay attention in class.
"I often ask people to look things up, confirm a date, find an image, etc.," said Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs at Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.
Such strategies may require some planning before class, but can go a long way in making students more engaged in class. This is in no small part because having students interact with the class breaks up the monotony. Michael Munger, professor of political science and economics at Duke explains:
"The problem is not the distraction offered by the laptop," Munger said. "It’s the need of the human mind to have things broken up into pieces where concentration is possible, for focused attention is interesting and enjoyable. If the students weren’t looking at their laptop, they would be dozing or doodling."
If you ignore laptops, students will pay more attention to the Internet than they do to your course material. But, if you ban laptops, students can still easily find ways to distract themselves, like texting, doodling, or simply staring off into space. Next time you plan out a lecture, think about how you might be able to use the devices students are bringing to class for the powers of learning.
What role does the professor have in the benefits (or disadvantages) of laptops in the classroom?
Simply put, if students are asked to learn passively, i.e. through hours of dull lecturing, laptops in the classroom can only serve to distract. A handful of students will use them for note-taking, but many will be unable to resist the siren song of the latest emails and tweets.
Even taking laptops out of the equation means students will simply doodle on their notes, “secretly” text their friends, or simply stare off into space.
According to Munger, bluntly, "the fact is that laptops don’t waste students’ time; professors do."
Professors who engage devices in the classroom can get their students to pay more attention in class. More importantly, they can get students to engage and interact with the material. This will encourage students to research and think critically about the material, something that cannot be achieved if students are simply passively listening to lecture.
Thus, it not only matters what material is covered, but also how that material is covered. And in that capacity, laptops offer an excellent opportunity to challenge the status quo of lectures by interacting more with students, and asking them to interact with materials.
"Laptops can help achieve learning outcomes or they can distract from learning outcomes," Baker said. "The professor is in the best position to evaluate the use of laptops in his or her classroom."
Before dismissing the value of laptops in your classroom, think about how you might be able to engage laptops to improve learning outcomes. Simply giving some thought to how you might be able to encourage beneficial use of technology in your classroom can be a huge first step towards improving engagement, attentiveness, and learning outcomes.
Making the Switch: How 4 Professors at Michigan Embraced Laptops and Made Class Interactive
Download our free ebook to learn how professors at the University of Michigan are using LectureTools, an interactive presentation tool, to provide an in-class learning platform for student laptops.
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Photo credit: Sean MacEntee
When thinking of iPads in education, typically the first thought that comes to mind is an iPad for every student. But, iPads and their Android-based counterparts have plenty to offer the college classroom in the hands of instructors, too.
The tech savvy professor can finally teach without the need to spend the first ten minutes of class locating a working dry erase marker or achieving the seemingly impossible feat of configuring an overhead projector to project both large enough for students in the back to see, as well as in focus.
In many cases, the iPad enables you to interact more with large groups of students and facilitates more engaging means of instruction. Here are 5 ways to use the iPad as an instructor in higher education:
1. Control your laptop remotely
Some of the primary criticisms of the iPad are that it does not offer the same level of functionality as a laptop running either Windows or OSX. The iPad does not allow you to multitask, nor does it offer an SD card slot or a USB port.
But, while teaching your class, you can control your laptop wirelessly using an iPad. This means you have access to the same applications that you do on your Mac or PC, and by controlling a laptop that is connected to the classroom projector, you can thus navigate and project your class PowerPoint slides using your iPad.
2. Present interactive activities to your students
Admittedly there isn’t too much advantage to simply using a remote desktop app like Splashtop or LogMeIn if all you are doing is advancing PowerPoint slides – remotes for this already exist, and they are substantially cheaper (and smaller) than iPads.
Take the opportunity to stop lecturing at your students and start engaging them. Present interactive activities, like free response questions, using your tablet, so that your students can engage with the material you are presenting to them. They’ll pay more attention, too.
3. Open a backchannel and reply to questions
One of the worst things about teaching a large lecture course is that oftentimes it is difficult to know if students understand anything you say. Additionally, students can be too intimidated to raise hands in front of their peers, or simply don’t have a chance to ask a question without interrupting.
There are many methods to open a backchannel for your classroom using your iPad, some more elegant than others. Browse forums or a chat room built into your LMS with your iPad while continuing to present lecture slides using the podium PC and a presentation remote. Or, adopt a more seamless interactive presentation tool.
4. Draw or annotate your slides
It’s tough to draw diagrams or graphs using a mouse. Use your electronic slate to draw on your slides using your finger or, better yet, a stylus.
When remotely controlling your PC using your tablet, you should have no trouble drawing graphs or sketching out important points. No more need to bring a package of wet erase markers and a box of overhead transparencies!
5. Catch off-task students by roaming the aisles
At times it can be tough to engage students when you stand guard next to the lectern for the entire class session to access a mouse and keyboard. But, when you have a remote connection configured using your iPad, you can easily walk up and down the aisles of the lecture hall.
This will inevitably wake up students who thought the distance between you and the seating area represented an impenetrable fortress of safe space for an early-morning nap, and lets you see which students are actually typing comments on their friends’ Facebook albums instead of notes on your course.
Free eBook: Lecturing with an iPad
Students are far less likely to stray when you are able to roam the aisles. Download our free eBook and learn how to use your iPad to untether yourself from the podium and start teaching more interactively.
Yesterday, Apple made a series of education announcements at the Guggenheim Museum. Perhaps the largest news of the day was the unveiling of the iBooks 2 eTextbook format, designed to harness the 1.5 million iPads currently used for education (and to make it even more appealing to get more iPads into the hands of students).
There are plenty of companies vying for eTextbook dollars, but none with as much weight and digital delivery infrastructure already in place as Apple. Here’s why iBooks 2 are a wave capable of making a huge splash in higher education:
1. iBooks are significantly cheaper than physical textbooks
While the catalog is currently limited, Apple has a price cap of $14.99 on books selling in its store. Despite not having the ability to resell an eTextbook, the difference in price between iBooks and traditional paper copies is large enough to draw in more students who are looking to save on books, particularly those who either already own an iPad, or those who attend institutions with iPad initiatives.
2. Anyone can create and distribute materials through iTunes
Along with the iBooks 2 format, Apple also revealed the iBook Author application. Anyone can import existing Keynote or Word files, and it is simple to drag and drop multimedia into your iBook. For instructors who offer a great deal of material in either a coursepack or in a custom textbook, the iBook Author application will allow them to publish their book to the iTunes Store in no time, with the ability to price materials from $14.99 and under.
3. Designed for the iPad, iBooks are more engaging and interactive
Most eTextbooks to date are identical to their physical counterparts, the only difference being that the former is accessible only through laptops or other mobile devices. iBooks by nature are intended to be optimized experiences for the iPad. This means that beyond standard fare – text and still photos – videos, interactive quizzes, and other elements can supplement static material.
4. No need to worry about writing in your book
When students read an iBook, they are able to add “sticky notes” to particular pages with notes for later. They can also highlight important passages using an array of different virtual “ink” colors. This could have the effect of getting more students to “mark up” their class reading, since there is no need to worry about ink bleeding through pages, or reduced resale value from taking notes in the book.
5. A single location for all course materials
With web browsing, office suites, and a full range of apps already available for the iPad, the addition of proper textbooks provides a single location for students’ study materials. There is need to tote around multiple books, notebooks, and highlighters when everyone is contained within a single device. To this effect, Apple has updated iTunes U to also allow instructors to deliver syllabi, assignments, and information like office hours through a dedicated app.
Improve In-Class Engagement and Attentiveness Using Students’ iPads
While iBooks and iTunes U provide great platforms for after class, did you know that by engaging iPads during class, students can become more attentive and engaged? Using the LectureTools iPad App, students can take notes associated with lecture slides, respond to interactive activities, and relay comprehension difficulties to you in real-time.
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