Why Should I use an Audience Response System in my Classroom?
Audience response systems like Mentimeter are a great way to engage your students to achieve better results through more efficient learning. By using Mentimeter as a tool to make your teaching more interactive, both you and your students will benefit.
Audience response systems give the teacher a fun and innovative way of turning class knowledge or opinion into data, and you also create an opportunity for students to express their opinion anonymously. Often, a lecturer might explain something very complex, ask if everyone understands, and with only one student answering yes, the teacher continues the lecture with the rest not understanding fully.
What is Mentimeter?
Mentimeter is an audience response system that gives you the opportunity to get instant feedback from your students. Mentimeter is easy to set up and very easy to use. Some of Mentimeter’s functions are:
- Multiple choice
- Open ended questions
- Dual axis
How can you use Mentimeter in your classroom?
Formative assessment serves to monitor the aggregated understanding of your class. It is used to let you as a lecturer understand if the class has grasped a concept, and if you can move on.
The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning on an aggregate level, this being used to let students find their owns strengths compared to the class as well as to give the lecturer an understanding if the class as a whole has grasped the concept.
Two examples of question themes for formative assessment are:
- Control questions, e.g. “Who was the president of United States of America (USA) in 1962?”
- Open ended question, e.g. “What was the reason for the start of the Korean war?”
While teaching, it's always important to see if the students understand along the way. Mentimeter is a great tool to use to verify if the whole class is following the lecture. Asking openly if the class has understood, students might not want to raise their hand and declare that they don't understand. Since Mentimeter is anonymous, everyone can solve the problem on their own or in small groups before submitting their answer. You will then be able to see for yourself if the class is following the lecture.
Exit pass with Mentimeter
The basic idea behind an exit pass is that after a lesson, the students are asked to answer certain questions regarding that class, to let the teacher assess if the students have understood the contents. Previously, this has been done via post-its or on paper, but in today’s modern world with digital aids, this tool is brought to a new level.
With Mentimeter you can ask open-ended questions such as: “Name three things you learned today”, “Name three questions you still have” , “If today's lesson was a movie, what would it have been named?”, and, “The thing I’m going to share with my parents tonight are?”
Within the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College, we have used hand held clicker devices since 2008. We have 300 clickers available for academic staff to borrow. However, it was a challenge to easily embed the use of clickers within the faculty’s teaching due to the campus size and number of academics (approx 350). This meant only a small subset of our 5000 students (approx) got to experience this interactive technology.
With the recent growth in smartphone devices the opportunity existed to move away from handheld clicker technology. All it required was an internet connection, either Wi-Fi or cellular. Using any mobile device with internet connectivity (mobile, tablet or laptop), the student could join a session in a lecture and vote. As vclicker is accessed via the provider’s website and not an app it made it accessible by a wider set of devices. We saw the benefits of this method to be that it enabled easy access to the service from anywhere. We saw that any new tool had to provide :
- Limited administrative burden on academics and Learning Technologists.
- Low cost
- No central coordination is required to access the clickers
- No additional costs such as costs for receivers, batteries, bags and ultimately the storage space.
We started trialing Mentimeter in October 2013. We initially targeted our existing clicker users as we felt their experience with this type of tool would provide an effective comparison. We purchased some ‘Premium’ licenses with Mentimeter as we felt the additional features would be beneficial for teaching.
We tested it with approx 480 students, across six departments. All academic users quickly learned how to use Mentimeter themselves and extended its use independently. For those staff that used it, they preferred it. The tool required limited or no support from the Learning Technology team. This demonstrated how easy it was to use and that it could be used on a much larger scale than the hand held clickers.
The main concern raised regarded how staff could include any students that may not have an internet enabled device. We feel that this concern has significantly lessened in the last 2 years with most students now owning a smart phone.
We started using Mentimeter in earnest in October 2014. We very quickly grew from 10 staff to 50 staff users in one year. It has proved a popular tool with staff and students.
Final tips on how to use Mentimeter
A last tip on how to use Mentimeter: outside the class room brings a set of questions to answer together with your co-workers to evaluate the internal work culture. This is a set of questions developed by a partner of Mentimeter specialized in creating a good work culture. By using Mentimeter, everyone answers anonymously, creating a comfortable environment for discussion.
Try it for Free (Limited Time Offer)
Mentimeter invites teachers and lecturers to try Mentimeter Educational for free for the remainder of March. If you register for an account at Mentimeter, and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the email you’ve registered, you will get full access to the Educational features until March 31, 2015.