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Initial Discription

Extending the Classroom: Collaborative Lecturing Project Wiki

This team consists of: Nathan Campbell, Lisa Doan, Kirill Kireyev, Malte Winkler

Below is our space to Upload Project Info As our Project continues throughout the semester:

Collaborative Classroom Software
Nathan Campbell, Lisa Doan, Kirill Kireyev, Malte Winkler
Design Learning Collaboration, Spring 2006

Our project aims to create a more effective and collaborative learning environment compared to the conventional classroom lecture paradigm.

By conventional lecture paradigm we refer to a setup which is typical of most university classrooms. It consists of three main components:
• “Instructor”
• “Students”
• “Projector” - a centralized screen or blackboard, visible by all students, which displays lecture slides and/or explanations sketched by the instructor

This conventional model, albeit very widespread, has several important limitations:
1. Synchronization. Students only see the slide being shown on the projector, without the ability to flip back or forward.
2. Linearity. The conventional lecture unfolds in one direction imposed by the instructor and does not easily allow students to explore related materials/hypermedia, as they are restricted to the information shown on the projector.
3. Feedback. The instructor is not able to easily gauge how quickly and in which direction the lecture should proceed, based on how many students find the material complicated or trivial, interesting or boring. This is relevant both in the short term (conducing the particular lecture in the present moment) and long term (improving the lecture for subsequent presentations, e.g for next year).
4. Student questions. Asking a question in lecture requires interrupting the lecturer. Some students may be hesitant to interrupt or ask too many questions. Furthermore, it’s difficult for a student to judge how relevant or important their question is, and whether any of the classmates share the interest in the same question.
5. Polling. It’s difficult for the instructor to efficiently poll the class. A typical “show of hands” approach has two limitations. First, it can only be used to answer yes/no questions (and even for such, disallows the possibility of expressing “I don’t understand the question” or “I have no opinion”). Secondly, it has to be answered immediately, i.e. right after it’s asked, not allowing students to pause and reflect as the lecture continues.
6. Class interaction. Often, it is useful for the instructor to pose to the students a question which they should discuss. To accomplish this in a conventional lecture settings, students must discuss the question orally, which often creates a lot of noise and makes it difficult for all opinions to be heard.
7. Notetaking. Students have to take notes in a medium (e.g. notepad) separate from the lecture material. This is often redundant, since it often involves copying the information written on the lecture slides. In cases when it’s not redundant, it may be difficult to subsequently correlate notes with the lecture slides they refer to. Furthermore, questions or comments expressed by students or by the instructor in lecture are not automatically persisted, unless each student explicitly records it in their notes. Another problem is that there’s no easy way for a student to mark points in lecture that he/she is confused about and easily retrieve all of them for later study.
8. Distance learning. The approach does not easily accommodate remote (telecommuting) students, or students which are not able to attend the lecture at a given time.
9. Chat. The conventional setting does not accommodate ad-hoc questions or comments which students may direct towards one another, without interrupting the lecture.

To solve these problems, we present a new computer-based lecture environment. Our approach relies on the fact that each student, as well as the instructor, will have a portable computer (laptop) with them in the lecture. This is not an unrealistic assumption, especially in the modern university setting.

Throughout the lecture, all participants will have our program running on their computers. The applications will all be connected via a network. The instructor and the students will see slightly different versions on their screen. Here we focus on the components of the students’ environment. It will have the following features:
• Projector window. This is where the lecture slides will appear. However it will also have:
o Navigation buttons (e.g. “forward”, “back”, “current”) will allow the student to navigate the slides at their own volition
• Multimedia window. This is where supplemental hypermedia will be presented.
• Chat window. This is where students can make any public questions or comments without interrupting the lecture. Students may also send private messages to one another.
• Feedback buttons. These buttons will be used for feedback communicated to the teacher:
o Question button – a student can press this button and type a question which will notify the teacher. Student has the option of making the question private i.e. not visible to other students. By default, all questions are visible to all students and they have the options to:
 Stress a question – students which share the question and/or find it relevant may click on it to raise its importance
 Answer a question – if another student has the answer, he/she may attempt to field the question (the instructor of course sees all dialogue related to the question).
o Confused button – signifies not a specific question but a general state of confusion, prompting the teacher to slow down or re-explain
o Expression buttons – allow the student to leave general feedback about the current slide, e.g.
 Interesting
 Boring
 Trivial
 Confusing
• Polling – at any point the teacher may pose a question to the class. The students’ answers may or may not be private (at the discretion of the instructor). The question may either be free-form or multiple choice, such as:
o Agree/Disagree
o Choice A/Choice B/Choice C
• Notes - students may leave notes directly “on” the slides they’re relevant to (such as “post-it” notes in Adobe Acrobat). Unless specifically disabled by the student, the notes are visible to the teacher, allowing him/her to intervene if the notes represent an error in understanding.
• Confusion points – A student is able to quickly mark slides that are confusing and require subsequent attention. Subsequently, he/she is able to quickly find the list of all the confusing points.

All of the activity (including the audio of the lecture) will be “recorded” by the program, allowing the student to return to the lecture later (e.g. reviewing before the test or if the student was absent from lecture) and replay all (or parts) of the lecture.

Project Proposal.doc

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