A new free application designed for the classroom is allowing students to chime in via smartphone if they are feeling clueless.
The app, TeacherTap, was created by Mark Liffiton, Illinois Wesleyan University assistant professor of computer science.
After a teacher has explained a concept, students have the ability to click one of three choices: “got it,” “unsure” or “lost me.” Then, both teacher and student can see the results of the entire class.
TeacherTap also gives students the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback throughout the class.
In theory, this application will allow instructors to adapt their lesson plans accordingly and in doing so, make the classroom a more efficient place.
However, professors and students at ISU seem to disagree about the need for the application.
“There may be some situations at the college level when this application might be useful, but it seemed very elementary to me … [I think it is better suited] for use in junior high or high school,” Maria A. Moore, assistant professor in the School of Communication at Illinois State University, said.
Moore explained ISU already has similar methods to achieving the same goal, most obviously the clicker.
“If a professor desired to get real-time data from students in a classroom, the clicker technology is already there and allows for more control over the kind of data collected beyond the limits of ‘got it’ ‘unsure’ or ‘lost me’,” Moore said.
Moore said another downfall in this idea is that some students may not own the appropriate technology to use this application.
“Another problem [is] my classroom policy only allows for the use of technology to take notes. This eliminates most use of cell phones or smartphones, leaving only laptops open,” she added.
Moore said she is frequently concerned with student comprehension in her classrooms, but she asks about comprehension before moving on to the next topic and gets feedback by blank stares or questions asked.
“I think this app is a great idea because I know personally I am afraid to ask questions in classes, so this would be a great way for the teacher to know I am lost,” Lexi Wasiloski, junior psychology major, said.
Wasiloski said sometimes being in large lecture halls can be too intimidating to ask a question.
“I see this working well in my bigger classes of 50 or more people; however, it may be useful for smaller classes as well,” Wasiloski added.
Moore said that with the clicker technology already in place, the new application seems redundant for any size class.
The idea that this application could stop professors from not only moving too quickly, but also too slowly is apparent.
Moore explained that the solution for the problem this application is trying to solve is already here — clickers.