Developing deeper student engagement in class and online

Context: Large undergraduate modules in Psychology. Module leader: Ian Wells.

Texting in class:  Students send a question via text message to the number provided (cheap PAYG phone acquired for this purpose) and Ian  relays their question to class and answers it. He can get up to 30 texts over 3 hours, some of which are duplicates. It means the students avoid embarrassing themselves with a dumb question – or a clever one for that matter. Although in theory it incurs a cost for the student it doesn’t really because of text bundles.

N.B. This is an alternative (but not substitute) for physical clickers which he has found to be too  much of a distraction. However he is interested in virtual polling but not doing it yet.

Twitter: Ian embeds a twitter feed on his module using the @py1105 handle. This works better than  a hashtag as students haven’t really engaged in tweeting but do follow him. He uses twitter to get quick snippets of news out e.g. new web link, posts from his blog.

Youtube clips: Ian does short introductions to his modules and  short clips further in to build  and maintain his relationship with large cohorts. He carries out the whole process on his iphone.

Ian’s blog – although intended to engage with an external audience, this also increases student engagement indirectly as they see the rationale for a lot of the theoretical stuff they’re studying. All posts appear via the twitter feed on modules. He thinks academics should be challenged to blog more.

See a presentation by Ian to the M25 Learning Technology Group in summer 2013.

Contact: Ian Wells


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