Classroom Response Systems in Literature Courses

Since the ConnectEd Summit at Abilene Christian University in the spring, I’ve been thinking about ways to use smart phones as “super-clickers” in class, leveraging what I know about teaching with clickers in the design of more general classroom response systems.  In a recent post on ProfHacker (my favorite new blog), Alex Jarvis describes a hypothetical system for literature courses in which students would use smart phones to interact with texts during class.  Alex calls his hypothetical system Enkidu, after the interpreter of dreams in the epic of Gilgamesh, and in the post, he lays out a few interesting possibilities for such a system.

As I’ve been thinking about more general classroom response systems, I’ve found it helpful to ponder this question: What if all the students in a class had smart phones and could engage in Web 2.0 activities on those phones during class? How might that be helpful to the learning process? Sure, I could have students tag photos on Flickr (for instance), but how might it be helpful to have them do so during class? I think a good answer to that question means you’ve got an app worth pursuing.

Back to Alex Jarvis’ Enkidu system.  What about the following scenario?  You ask your students to find quotations from a text that support a particular claim. Your students pull out their smart phones, start scanning through the electronic copy of the text, and highlight appropriate quotes. Those quotes are then sent to your computer, where you read them quickly as they come in to get a sense of where your students are going with this task.

After all the students have had a chance to find a quote or two, you project the list of quotes submitted by the students on your computer projector and lead a class discussion about the quotes, examining how each quote does or does not support the claim in question.

For added value, you could turn on a word cloud effect in which quotes selected by multiple students are presented in larger fonts. After class, the quotes could be tagged in a “master” version of the electronic text with the claim in question to help students study.

That sounds pretty useful to me. What do you, my readers, think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *