The School of Medicine at Flinders University in Australia has a continental reach. It starts at the main campus in Darwin, and reaches students at sister campuses over 1880 miles apart. Connecting teachers, experts, doctors, and medical students scattered across such a broad distance is a big job.
Helen Wozniak works to bridge the gap, as both Senior Lecturer and Director of E-Learning. She isn’t an IT expert, but she does an excellent job of finding the right technologies and methods to keep all of Flinders’ med students on the same page, and engaged in an efficient learning process.
Multiple classrooms, simultaneous polls.
Often the doctors brought in to lecture med students are only available for a short time. Many of them are also unfamiliar with teaching, but they all are well-versed in PowerPoint. That was one of the major reasons Wozniak turned to Poll Everywhere to increase student engagement in all locations at once, and tailor instruction materials to the needs at hand.
Wozniak helps lecturers embed polls into their PowerPoint slides, so that she and other Flinders University educators can assess student comprehension in real time, in classrooms all over the country.
Targeted instruction and takeaway study guides.
Sometimes the polls are for a simple quiz on the material at hand, like a multiple choice poll on the most likely diagnosis for a fictional patient. Once, Wozniak polled students from four locations on what stage they had reached in a 6-step medical project. Then the lecturers were able to tailor their content to the specific steps in the process where most students found themselves.
Wozniak takes screen shots of the polls as results come in, and bundles them into the presentation notes, along with videos of the lecture. Altogether, it forms a lasting study guide for hundreds of students. “It allows face-to-face sessions to be used efficiently by focusing specifically on students’ current needs,” she says.
The ease of use for instructors and 90% participation rate of students synchronously polled using personal laptops and mobile devices attests to the conclusion that her methods are working.
How can you do this?
When planning the class, identify opportunities to collect feedback from students. The start and end of class/topics are a natural place to solicit feedback. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for the students to respond to the polls and the subsequent discussion.
Create the polls. Create Open Ended Polls for feedback on questions students have or topics they would like covered and Multiple Choice Polls to gauge knowledge of a topic.
Integrate the polls into the PowerPoint deck for the lecture. Display the results live as students vote.