One of the biggest changes that can take place with the integration of technology into the classroom is that there are so many more options for feedback from students and for students. Using various tools, we can create more opportunities for students to ask questions and for the teacher to be able to provide the much needed feedback as part of the learning process.
There are many reasons why it helps to have another option for students to ask questions during and after a class. There are a large number of students out there that do not want to or have issues asking questions during class in front of other students. Whether they have a speech, hearing or confidence issue, it can be very difficult for many students to ask questions in front of other students. There are also a number of students who may want to have more time before asking a question, they are not able to or wanting to ask questions quickly. Giving these students a way to either work on the questions they have or to avoid issues with other students can create a much better learning environment for them.
I remember having a few students who would almost never ask questions, even when you would approach them individually during class but yet once we had options to do that using the devices in the classroom, they surprised me with the questions they would ask. They would now have the chance to ask questions and get the feedback that they needed without having to worry about any of the other issues involved. No matter what, this is something that any teacher can implement and see some sort of benefit from. The key is to pick a method that works best for both the teacher and the students. It makes no sense to pick a method where the teacher will not check it frequently or where the students can not use it easily or will not use it. Sometimes it helps to try out the easier methods first and then try other methods as students get comfortable with this way of asking questions.
Creating a simple Google Form is an easy way to see what questions your students have. A Google Form is easy to create and then share out with students. You can have students provide their names, do it anonymously or if you are a GAFE school you can have it automatically collect their usernames. The questions can be simple or more complex depending on the content. The key to a Google Form is making sure you check it frequently so that you know when there are questions being asked. This is one drawback to a Google Form, there is no quick way to get alerts when a student fills it out so you will have to make sure you are vigilant.
Padlet is a great tool to use as it is easy and has a visually appealing interface. Padlet is like a digital bulletin board where you can set it up so anyone can add a post to it and you can be the moderator to make sure the questions are appropriate and you can easily organize the questions into different topics. A Padlet can be quickly created and shared out and it can even be embedded onto a site. Students can add their name if they want or they can keep it anonymous depending on the classroom expectations. You can create the board for each class, unit or even have one board that is continuously being used.
Today’s Meet is a great backchannel tool to use during conferences but it has a place in class also. You can create a forum room very quickly and students can join it just as easily. Share out the link with the students and they can join it for the class or you can even have it run longer than a day. Each room can be exported so that you have a log of all of the questions and interactions for later reflection or for use in the classroom. Again, students can be anonymous or they can use their real name, all depending on the classroom expectations. Allowing students to be anonymous can allow them to ask questions without the fear of ridicule or judgement by other students but it can be equally as effective to have students use their real name so that you know exactly who has questions you need to address in class. Also using real names can keep some students from abusing the tool or making it less effective by posting questions not related to the topics or which are not appropriate for class.
Geddit is a new tool that I have not fully explored yet but it appears to have a lot of advantages over the other options but it also requires more setup to get started. It is a free tool that you can use to gauge how well students are understanding the content in the classroom and gives them a chance to ask questions to get valuable feedback. You can post a question to the students who will not only answer the question but also indicate how well they think they understood the class topic for the day. This will work on any of the main devices in the classroom and can go beyond just asking questions by having students be conscious of their own understanding. While I see this as having the most potential of any tool discussed, it will require the most time before hand to make sure it is effective in the classroom.