About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7089-7097
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0547

Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ENGAGING STUDENTS IN LARGE CLASSROOMS: TURNING CLASSICAL LECTURES INTO DIALOGUES USING DIGITAL PEDAGOGY. EXAMPLES, BENEFITS AND PITFALLS

M. Sarvary1, K. Gifford2

1Cornell University (UNITED STATES)
2Science Cabaret (UNITED STATES)
Active learning methods have broken out of small lab rooms and into large lecture courses. Instructors who wish to avoid being the “sage on the stage” and instead would rather flip the classroom by turning lectures into dialogues need to adopt methods that engage large groups of students. This is easier being said than done, and therefore there are many active learning and large classroom ideas available in blogs and papers dedicated to teaching, but very few concrete examples describing the application of these techniques.
Our paper provides two concrete examples of how digital pedagogy is used to engage students in a 400+ student introductory biology course at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, USA. These “hot” scientific topics are ideal to turn the table and have students teach students in a peer-instruction format: a forum on climate change and a debate on the ethics of genetic engineering. Students engage via questions and comments, and these immediate assessments of students’ understanding on a difficult or ethically sensitive scientific topic can help instructors alter teaching on the spot. For example, in the climate change forum 81% of students felt that climate change is not stoppable and not reversible, while only 19% found it possible to reverse the effects. Many of them committed to “use less energy” or “bike to school” after the forum. In a recent debate about CRISPR/CAS-9 only 12% of the students thought a parent should be able to choose the unborn child’s physical traits, but in the same time 82% felt that scientists should pursue research that is ethically controversial. Many students expressed that CRISPR “has great potential, but needs to be regulated”. In order to have a conversation with such large audiences, instructors need user-friendly digital technologies. We have been experimenting with digital pedagogy in classrooms and at science communication events for nearly a decade. In the past 4 years our audiences have participated using a versatile system from Polleverywhere. Digital tools like this have transformed a traditionally passive lecture experience into dynamic dialogues. Students can either send text-messages during lecture, or use web-based applications on their laptops, cellphones, or tablets to communicate with the instructor. Interestingly, there was a 5-fold decrease of SMS (texting) based responses in the past 3 years, a strong evidence of increased adoption of more interactive web-based technologies in the classroom.
During our lectures we have dialogues with the students, assess their knowledge, ask multiple-choice questions, create word-clouds and have them write long comments to identify challenges. The opportunities are endless, as participants can click on a map or biological pathway to choose the correct answer, brainstorm about an idea, rank concepts, or ask questions.
We are at the forefront of digital pedagogy and educational technology use, and that inevitably includes the use of students' electronic devices in the classroom. Students using web-based applications to communicate with the instructor easily get distracted by other online media such as their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feed. This is a global challenge for those who use digital pedagogy, and it is our duty to facilitate active learning exercises that win classrooms back from online distractions. In this paper we discuss several examples not only how it can be done, but how it can be done well.
@InProceedings{SARVARY2016ENG,
author = {Sarvary, M. and Gifford, K.},
title = {ENGAGING STUDENTS IN LARGE CLASSROOMS: TURNING CLASSICAL LECTURES INTO DIALOGUES USING DIGITAL PEDAGOGY. EXAMPLES, BENEFITS AND PITFALLS},
series = {8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN16 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-8860-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2016.0547},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.0547},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {7089-7097}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Sarvary AU - K. Gifford
TI - ENGAGING STUDENTS IN LARGE CLASSROOMS: TURNING CLASSICAL LECTURES INTO DIALOGUES USING DIGITAL PEDAGOGY. EXAMPLES, BENEFITS AND PITFALLS
SN - 978-84-608-8860-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0547
PY - 2016
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2016
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN16 Proceedings
SP - 7089
EP - 7097
ER -
M. Sarvary, K. Gifford (2016) ENGAGING STUDENTS IN LARGE CLASSROOMS: TURNING CLASSICAL LECTURES INTO DIALOGUES USING DIGITAL PEDAGOGY. EXAMPLES, BENEFITS AND PITFALLS, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 7089-7097.
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