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Building Future Leaders and Thinkers with TurningPoint Mobile

Inspiring today's learners to become tomorrow's leaders with the help of mobile response technology.

CHALLENGE
 
Aspiring to be one of the most successful faculties of its kind, the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester Iin Manchester, England houses around 18,000 students and 1,000 academic staff, attracting graduates from over 100 countries globally. Through ‘active learning’ pedagogical approaches and the latest technologies, the faculty prides itself on its challenging academic environment, helping students translate theory into practice, to become future leaders and thinkers. This journey now sees a move towards university-wide roll out of TurningPoint Mobile, building upon the faculty’s 10+ years using Turning Technologies'  student response clickers
 
SOLUTION
 
Mobile response technology has been piloted by Philip Styles, Learning Technologist and the Humanities eLearning Team across the faculty as the latest solution to support knowledge checking, initiate of discussion and debate, gather of opinion and initiate social enhancements and learning reinforcement. 
 
“Following university investment in TurningPoint clickers back in 2007, we could see the huge pedagogical benefits and enhanced learning outcomes that polling technology brings to the learning experience," stated Philip. "When we discovered TurningPoint provided mobile responding capabilities, we ran a very successful combined pilot with the clickers which now sees us moving towards institution-wide implementation of the technology.” 
 
Debate and Discussion
 
As a beacon for the humanities in the UK, Philip and his colleagues must ensure that students grow into confident thinkers and develop the skills required to meet the faculty’s commitment to continually address the social, economic and political challenges of our time. “Interaction in face-to-face teaching is vital for student engagement and it is our firm belief that knowledge cannot be built by listening alone," said Philip. "Mobile responding is an integral part of our teaching toolkit, particularly when engaging students in discussion surrounding a contentious issue; this could be something coming out of the news, or new government legislation. Research shows us that conflict or controversy during classroom discussion can promote cognitive gains in complex reasoning, integrated thinking, and decision-making. Mobile responding enables staff to run a live poll to gather opinion and helps get students thinking and talking.” 
 
Ownership of Learning
 
Mobile responding is being used by staff to help students grasp an understanding of the studying time and effort required to secure the grade they want. Philip says: “I would say many of our students have little concept of the correlation between hours spent studying and the grade they’ll end with. We use mobile responding to open debate and get students thinking about the link. If their goal is a First, what levels of effort and workload correspond with that and how does their current commitment to working hard in their studies fit into that picture? As graphs of class responses flash up on their mobile devices and discussion commences, students begin to experience that dawning realization – if I want to get a 1st I’ll need to put in X hours to achieve it”. He continues: “We’d never achieve this cognition or such invigorated discussion if we simply stood at the front of the lecture hall and told everyone they’re not putting in enough time. This way, students come to their own conclusions and feel empowered to change.”
 
Confidence
 
Recognizing that student confidence is an important factor in educational success, staff use mobile responding to check student confidence levels across a multitude of areas. Philip says: “We do this to help each student place themselves on a landscape of confidence and ability. For example, we might have confident students that get a question wrong, and under confident students that get it right. This data provides an added layer of reflection for both lecturer and student.”
 
CONCLUSION
 
As Philip and the wider team within the faculty and university move towards institutional roll-out, what thoughts does he have to share? Firstly, he discusses a key consideration that led to the partnership with Turning Technologies: “Integration with Microsoft PowerPoint is a huge plus,” he said. “The majority of our academics have and will likely always use PowerPoint as their go-to tool, so we needed a solution that enhanced their use and did not require training of an entirely different system.” 
 
Philip is keen to stress that in order to get staff on board, you must be able to demonstrate the natural fit between any technology and pedagogy: “You cannot force lecturers to use a new technology, it must be rooted in pedagogy and relatable to their specific discipline,” he stated. “At Manchester, we work with academics spanning a wide spectrum of ages, attitudes towards elearning and technical expertise. One of the most powerful tools we have is peer recommendation. If you have a small group of advocates who get on board early, work with them to encourage use from wider teams. In most contexts, even in the private sector, there are barriers between subject specialists and IT teams. Peer engagement is absolutely key to adoption of new technologies.” 
 
Philip and his team have plans to expand upon their bespoke training sessions to support new groups of staff learning how to embed mobile responding. He has this final piece of advice: “Group training works best if trainees work together within the same subject/discipline. Bringing together larger groups spanning different subjects has not been so effective at our institution. Staff are more likely to engage and discuss issues if you can put the technology in the context of their specific subject.”