How long do you think it takes a student to make a significant judgment on your credibility as a professor/speaker? Take a look at this picture below. This was my opening slide for Medical Pathology course I teach to first year DPT students. How does it make you feel? What do you think of me from a credibility standpoint? If you were a student sitting in my classroom about to begin a 50-minute lecture, what would your attitude be like?
What if I used the below picture to represent what I was about to talk about instead?
According to web design research it only takes viewer 3.42 seconds to make a significant judgment of the credibility of the webpage they are viewing based on aesthetics alone. As soon as we deploy our presentation slides, or the moment, they see our handout, students judge them. They judge them for credibility and for importance factor. Looking good is often interpreted as being good – and being credible.
Using technology in the classroom is one of many ways we can communicate to our students our passion and credibility for the topic. By spending the time to spruce up our presentation slides, play fun review quizzes, or poll the audience for feedback we are communicating to our audience that we care. This topic is important, and you should care about this too.
We can also use technology and good design to play to our audience’s attention span. In Brain Rules, biologist John Medina, explains that most audience members begin to tune out after about 10 minutes of listening. No matter how much care and credibility you have used in your design, you still only get 10 minutes. The brain gets bored easily and needs varied stimulation to stay tuned in. After 10 minutes of lecturing, you can re-engage your audience by showing a video, giving a demonstration, telling a story, or poll the audience. There are several technology platforms out there that can be used and incorporated in your daily lectures to re-engage your audience. Here are my top five favorite technology platforms I use in the classroom and the pros and cons of using each to re-enagage your audience.
This is the place to become the graphic designer you always wanted to be. Canva allows you to create all sorts of different projects – presentation slides, cards, flyers, posters, social media posts, etc – from templates that graphic designers have already created. Pros - The templates include elegant fonts, beautiful color combinations and preset arrangement of various elements. Canva also can be a blank slate for whatever design you have in mind. Check it out for the next presentation you are making and wow your audience. Cons - there is a bit of a learning curve and some small cost involved if you want to upgrade to paid version.
This is an excellent online quiz platform where you can either use preset quizzes or create your own. Pros - They have everything from pop culture quizzes to math quizzes and everything in between. Kahoot! Also makes it easy to create your own quizzes. I find this a really fun way to review previous discussed content or to check in on the student’s reading. Your students will need either a phone or computer to participate as they log in to the game via any web browser. The game can be competitive and gives points for correct answers. I like to hand out a pack of M&M’s to the winner each time. Cons - It does open your students up to distractions from their phone or computer, so you have to monitor this closely.
This is a fun way to break up the cognitive backlog that longer lectures build up. Pros - Poll everywhere allows you to create polls, multiple choice questions, word clouds, and open-ended questions that integrate directly into your slides. There are other polling type platforms out there, but they require you to stop your presentation and then open a browser. With Poll Everywhere, you can incorporate it directly into a PowerPoint, KeyNote, Google Slides, etc and never skip a beat. I like to use this every 10 minutes or so to break up the content and to get a gage on the audience’s understanding of what they have heard so far. Cons - Customizing is difficult at times as the editing platform is not user friendly. Usability between PC and Mac's is different and creates a bit of a learning curve.
Have you been wanting to try flipping your classroom, but haven’t found the right way to do it yet? This is a great software for getting your content setup for that flip. Pros - Panapto is an online video presenting software that allows you to present a presentation and record your face/audio as well. You don’t have to know a lot about editing software to be able to record, edit and upload your Panapto lectures as it is user friendly. I like to use this to get lecture content out to students in small chunks and then utilize that content in a multi-sensory way when in the classroom. Cons - You run the risk of being monotone and boring when you are only lecturing to your computer. This takes practice to be as enthusiastic and passionate as if you have a whole audience.
This is a new platform that utilizes the fun concepts from Snapchat and Instagram that your students know all about, but in a learning environment. Pros - In essence this platform allows you to record a video question and then your students can respond with their own video as well as respond to each other, all with adding some filters, sunglasses, hats, etc to add a fun factor. This platform allows you to assess prior knowledge, check understanding and allow for self-reflection all with students interacting in a way that is fun and different. Cons - I haven’t used this platform on a regular basis yet, but see its usability in many of my classes to spark discussion points and to review out of class reading that seems so tough to get students to actually complete. This again could be a bit of a distraction point for your students, but used outside of the classroom may reduce this con.
What platforms do you like to use?