Lunchtime sessions on online teaching: live polling

Tuesday 15 September 2020

On Thursday, September 3rd, a new series of informal lunchtime sessions supporting online teaching kicked off here in St Andrews. The lunchtime sessions, primarily led by academic staff, and centrally supported by the Centre for Educational Enhancement and Development, will take place on the ‘Hive’ Team, in the ‘Live at the Hive’ channel, on most Thursdays from 1-2pm throughout this coming semester. Each session discusses a particular theme relevant to online teaching, and, if you are interested in coming along, just watch the University events calendar for announcements and for the theme of that particular week. The format of the sessions does not involve extended formal ‘training’. Rather, we start with a brief, 10-minute presentation, normally by a member of academic staff, on a useful aspect of the theme of the week (e.g. live polling). This is followed by a relaxed, informal, and constructive round table discussion (with lunch!) where colleagues share their knowledge and ask questions on the week’s theme.


The theme of the first lunchtime session was ‘Interaction in large online lectures: polling and quizzes’. Beforehand, new St Andrews Lecturer Dr. Ife Okafor-Yarwood from the School of Geography and Sustainable Development sent along some of her PowerPoint slides on Amartya Sen’s view of development. These were used during the 10-minute presentation part of the session to demonstrate how to construct a live poll asking students whether or not they agreed with Sen’s view. And it all worked smoothly! Afterwards, we had some great insights on using polling software to make lectures more interactive from Dr. Morven Shearer, Director of the Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies, and Lecturer (Education Focused) in the School of Medicine. Lecturer in Modern History, Dr. Montserrat Lopez Jerez, told us how she used polling software with Prezi; Dr Ilse Sturkenboom from the School of Art History asked some great questions with a view to using polls in her lectures on Iranian Islamic Art History; and School of Physics and Astronomy Director of Teaching, Dr. Bruce Sinclair, told us how he and colleagues are taking the plunge, and are moving from using a system of clickers for polling to using new software.  We finished with a very interesting discussion of how important it is to exercise great care and good judgment when selecting software for teaching, and to avoid any excessive monitoring of students online.

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