How I gave pretty low-tech feedback in a +100 class using text-messages

(For the dutch readers, I posted this already a long time ago here)

Because I tweeted it in short this morning, I want to tell in this post the whole approach how I used text-messages to give feedback in lectures for groups with a size +100. The idea is in fact pretty simple.

After every half hour I projected the following message ‘Work in groups of 3. Try to summarize the past 30 minutes in 1 text-message (160 digits) and text it to <my number>”.

After class I collected all the text-messages and imported them into my computer. I made 3 categories:

  • cat 1: correct and to the point
  • cat 2: correct but besides the question
  • cat 3: wrong (+ correction from my part)

This all was put in a document and I uploaded it on the digital platform (you know that thing teachers use but only a couple of students visit to copy to content onto Facebook). It took my +/- 1 hour per lesson for a class of 2.5 hours with 120 students.

Why did I work with groups of 3? First of all, because I didn’t want to have too many messages, but also to make sure that there wouldn’t be problems as ‘I don’t have a cell phone on me’, ‘I don’t have any money left prepaid ‘,…

I didn’t use twitter because I learned from our students that it is still a minority thing, and in Belgium the students do have smartphones, but mobile internet is less common at that time (actually, it is still only 1 in 3 who has mobile internet).

Bad thing was that I couldn’t give the feedback rightaway, but I still could gave feedback as I saw some misconceptions and helped my students to know what’s important and what less. At the same time my students ‘crowdsourced’ a summary of the class.

I also used another question in other classes, namely try to make up a test-question about the past half hour. Again the answers through text-messages were put in the same 3 categories.

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