This past weekend I took part in Startup Weekend EDU in Santa Clara, CA. It was an amazing experience! My phenomenal team, comprised of three developers and two educators, built a working prototype and conducted market research during the 54-hour event.
The issue we sought to address was student engagement. According to the Alliance for Education, “Research shows that a lack of student engagement is predictive of dropping out…” Many students would like to participate in class discussions, but aren’t given the opportunity, since a teacher can only call on one student at a time. Other students are uncomfortable speaking up in class. One of my 7th grade students told me: ”I don’t participate in some of my classes because I’m afraid I will say something wrong.”
I’ve been trying out various audience response systems in my classroom, using iPod Touches, to get simultaneous feedback from all of my students. An overwhelming majority of my students (93%) prefer responding in class via mobile device. Here is what they have to say about it:
“If you say something out loud, people will forget what you said, but if you post it to the teacher’s screen, people will see what you posted and can read it again later if they want to.”
“It’s quicker than waiting to get called on.”
“I like to see everyone else’s answers.”
“Students post things that they wouldn’t say out loud.”
“Others can comment on your answer.”
“Raising my hand is boring and a waste of my time.”
By the end of the weekend, the awesome developers on our team had built a student response system where students’ responses were displayed in real-time. The responses made a collaborative web. Here’s a screenshot from the students’ device:
Here’s the web that is projected on the teacher’s screen (each bubble is a students’ response):
The next step (which the developers didn’t have time to complete) is for students to be able to add ideas to the initial responses. It might look something like this:
I’m confident that teachers would use this tool. 97% of the teachers we polled said that they already use graphic organizers. 91% said that they would use a digital, collaborative graphic organizer creation tool with their classes. You can visit our webpage to add your e-mail to the BETA waiting list.
It was an exhilarating experience spending the weekend with so many motivated, passionate, and intelligent people. Liam from Class Dojo was a tremendous mentor to my team. He gave us some profound insights that were invaluable to us. He is a truly brilliant entrepreneur (You can read his latest interview here).
I’m excited about the all possibilities that were hatched this weekend, and I’ll be sure to post updates to my blog as this project develops.