Interaction in large classes

The Keele University Communicube for lecture based voting

I teach classes in the 15 to 30 range, and I often wonder how University teachers can encourage interaction in larger lecture theatre audiences. Richard Treves presented a review of his video podcasting project about Google Earth at the Moodle Moot 2006, and he added a degree of interactivity to his talk by issuing the audience with an A4 printout of four coloured rectangles to encourage voting on questions he had prepared in the PowerPoint.

Richard cited Keele University and their ‘CommuniCube’ as being the inspiration behind this simple but effective strategy – the foam cube does involve some cost in production but is accessible to blind students by providing braille legends. Richard used the A4 colour printout which we folded into 4. Displaying the appropriate coloured rectangle at each question allowed the presenter to estimate the views held by participants and to modify presentation accordingly.

Low tech monochrome voting card

Colour printing is a vexed issue in many colleges, so my version is even lower tech – just a monochrome A4 sheet with symbols. The symbols have line widths of 36pt or half an inch and I can see them at a glance from 60 feet away. I’ll see how it goes with smaller groups, it will create a bit of a giggle anyway, and I like the idea that everyone has to respond.

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