Whether you are the instructor of record or facilitating small group labs or discussions as a teaching assistant, engaging students in inclusive, collaborative learning can be challenging. This blog post explores three collaborative learning tools available to Associate Instructors that help actively engage learners and build a community among students no matter how big or small the class size.
If you are looking for a way to connect meaningfully with students regardless of your class size or modality, Top Hat is a fantastic tool to use. This learning technology, which you can integrate directly into your Canvas course, makes it a breeze to seamlessly integrate quizzes, discussions, and polling into any lecture. Students can engage via their mobile devices, making check-ins quick and accessible.
What makes Top Hat particularly useful? Top Hat provides an easy way to solicit real time data about how well your students understand course content, what questions they may have, and what concepts/skills may need more attention. Implementing this feature in your lectures provides an opportunity for frequent check-ins with students, meaning you can assess your class’s strengths and weaknesses during any given lecture.
As an online collaborative annotation tool, Hypothes.is is an excellent resource to encourage students to practice reading actively. For students, this tool provides a way to engage with peers, develop strong annotation and note-taking habits, and read deeply and actively (as opposed to passively skimming information). For instructors, Hypothes.is provides an opportunity to ensure students complete reading assignments, while simultaneously offering an easy and efficient way to assess what terms/concepts students have mastered and/or what areas need more review.
What distinguishes Hypothes.is from other collaboration tools such as Canvas Discussions? Hypothes.is allows students and instructors to annotate passages privately or publicly. This helps students keep their notes on a text in one easily accessible place thereby building stronger study habits. In addition, students interact directly with the text, annotating passages they find confusing and/or particularly important as they read. Moreover, the public annotation feature offers a way for students to quickly respond to their peers and see how their understanding of a text is similar to or different from the group.
Tip: Order Hypothes.is for your course through the IU eTexts Initiative. On your order form, use the ISBN HYPOTHESIS000. You can also Connect Hypothes.is assignments to your Canvas course to easily grade annotation assignments through Speedgrader.
Whether you are using a flipped classroom model or simply hoping for ways to better engage students in lectures and course content, PlayPosit is a valuable application for creating interactive asynchronous lectures. This video tool allows you to utilize polls, quizzes, and discussions in order to better engage students and assess learner comprehension of your course content.
With PlayPosit, you can record or upload a video by creating a “bulb.” Each bulb allows instructors to build in meaningful ways for students to interact directly with the video content. Students can timestamp notes and/or respond to notes made by their peers, and instructors can offer quizzes/polls at varying points in the video that help ensure students are getting what they need from each lesson (and as a checkpoint to make sure students understand one concept before moving onto the next). This tool is particularly useful for teaching concepts with which students have varying degrees of knowledge/familiarity because it allows students to pause and rewind if there are concepts with which they struggle.
Have a class that includes speeches or presentations? Students can create their own bulbs and receive time stamped feedback from you and/or their classmates. And, just like the tools discussed above, you can connect students with PlayPosit directly through your course Canvas page.