Adding interactivity into online classes

Adding interactivity into online classes
students in a virtual environment through engaging activities.UCLA
Use case
Higher education

I had taught fully online classes before and the chat worked fine, but I liked the immediacy of Poll Everywhere. Since we went fully virtual I felt the need to find an engagement tool and this worked out very nicely.

George Abe, Lecturer at UCLA Anderson School of Management, gets to know his students in a virtual environment through engaging activities. “With the help of Poll Everywhere, the students were surprisingly satisfied. Even when we go back to in-person classes, I’ll be continuing to use the tool.”

Transitioning to distance learning

Transitioning to distance learning George teaches three classes at the Anderson School of Management and has years of experience in distance learning. “In a hybrid environment, the synchronous elements were six hours long for executive MBAs, so they came in on weekends for full-day sessions. With an online class that’s six hours long, you need something interactive to break it up.”

While looking for potential solutions, George discovered Poll Everywhere through the campus IT department. Now, he incorporates interactive questions during each session of his tech entrepreneurship course. “Since we use Poll Everywhere for every class, I like to add a little bit of history about the company too. I know it started in the middle of the recession, so my first question is about how strong companies get started in times like those. That always leads to good discussion at the start of class.”

After creating his Poll Everywhere account, George started simple and ramped up over time. “For my first activity with Poll Everywhere, I broke the students up into groups and presented a business proposition. Then, I asked them a simple yes or no question with a multiple choice activity. Little by little, I started increasing the number of questions to make sure they were on board. Eventually, I ran a ninety minute session with twelve activities.”

George’s approach was to include an engaging question regularly throughout the class session. “I present an interactive question every half hour to gauge knowledge, get student opinions, or check in. They’re usually specific and directed toward the course content.”

After a quarter of fully remote learning, George was pleasantly surprised to see great feedback from students.

The ratings were quite good, even after we redesigned the course to a virtual format. I’m very happy with the student response and reaction so far.

Building an interactive curriculum

Now that Poll Everywhere has become a regular addition to his classes, George started incorporating it in new ways at the start of the fall quarter. “At the beginning of my classes, I now ask a series of live multiple choice and open-ended questions back to back so I can get to know the students and give them a feel for content. I ask questions like ‘Do you know what a term sheet is?’ to see what students know coming into the class, or ‘What do you want me to cover in this class?’ so they can prioritize the different topics.”

As he gets more experienced with the tool, George is looking forward to incorporating new activity types into his curriculum. His next venture will be into using Surveys for graded assessments so he can assign grades and gauge comprehension.

Poll Everywhere gives students a chance to modulate the emphasis on the content and gives me insight into how much background knowledge they have so I know which topics to spend more time on. It's been useful in setting expectations, both on my part and theirs.

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