tips for using Quizlet in college classroom

Tips from the Pros: Promoting Active Learning with Quizlet

How best to engage students and provide opportunities for active learning is a question we find ourselves thinking about and discussing often with colleagues. Quizlet is a user-friendly, technology-based quizzing system that works well to engage students in both face-to-face and online learning environments. Instructors can use it to create their own study set or browse through and use existing study sets. Study sets consist of groups of questions presenting content that students have reviewed. The content is presented as terms, definitions, pictures, diagrams, and labels, making the program flexible and effective for many disciplines. For example, an anatomy professor could insert pictures or diagrams of the skeletal system, and students may be charged with either labeling or identifying the correct term.

Quizlet has many functions both inside and outside of the classroom. One common use of Quizlet is its flashcard function, which is useful to review course content. In order to engage in the flashcard function, students click on a study set and then click on the flashcard icon. Next, one at a time, a definition is revealed and the student types in a term. The program indicates if the answer is correct and how many terms the student has answered correctly. In addition to flashcards, students can engage in a matching game. For the matching game, students click on a study set and then click on the matching game icon. Next, all the terms and definitions are on the screen in a scattered pattern and the student clicks on a term and drags it to the correct definition. The Gravity game is another popular activity using a video game format where students test their knowledge by answering questions before asteroids hit the ground.

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Tools for adding animation to your course.

Simple Animation for Your Courses

Animation is an engaging format for delivering online content. We see it used in TED-Ed presentations, educational documentaries, and elsewhere. It is also much easier to make than many people think. Simple and free, or inexpensive, online systems allow anyone to make animated videos in a variety of formats. The creator chooses from a menu of characters, actions, and backgrounds; adds a narration audio track; and then chooses how the elements will move around a scene. These systems only take a few minutes to learn, and while they will not win you an Oscar, they are perfectly fine for online teaching.

One use of animation is to publicize a course on the faculty member’s webpage. I made one announcing a faculty development course that used two characters talking in a bar about challenges they face in teaching, with one announcing my course as a solution. Yes, it sounds hokey, but it’s an attention grabber that sets the tone of my training as interesting and innovative. We do little to inform students about courses or try to interest them before they sign up. Normally, they just get a brief description in a course catalog or perhaps a syllabus. An animated video will capture students’ attention and get them motivated to take the course. Animated videos can also be used in an online course to introduce a week’s content, what students should do, and what students will get out of each activity. They can also be used to deliver content itself if the instructor prefers not to use other video formats. Take a look at this example of an animation used to deliver a lesson on animal ethics: https://youtu.be/3HAMk_ZYO7g.

Another option is to have students make animations as assessments. I have had students make animations that teach a topic. This is far more engaging to the student than a traditional paper, and students will respond with surprising amounts of creativity. Plus, the videos can be added to the course content itself to educate future students.

Here are some easy to use animation systems for making your own videos.

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college student watching videos on laptop.

Creating Accessible Video for the Online Classroom

Videos are being integrated more and more into the online classroom. However, they can create barriers for learners with hearing problems. If a student asks for an ADA accommodation for a video, you will be scrambling at the last minute to create a text supplement. That’s why it’s good practice to create a text supplement at the same time that you create a video.

Many faculty use separate transcripts to add text for hearing-impaired students. But this makes it challenging for a deaf or hard-of-hearing student to absorb the visual and auditory information simultaneously, as they need to shift back and forth between the images and text. The better way to create accessible video is with captions that appear within the video itself, allowing learners to read the text with the images. While captioning takes time, the steps are not difficult to master, and there are a variety of options for adding captions to online videos.

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Easy Content Creation with Whiteboards

A number of video types work well in an online environment, each with its own strengths that make it appropriate for teaching certain types of content. One of the most powerful types is whiteboard videos.

Whiteboards are basically blank canvases on the computer onto which you can write, draw, or place different sorts of content. The ability to draw is particularly helpful for instructors teaching quantitative courses, as instructors can write out equations freehand, rather than going through the laborious process of typing them onto a computer. But drawing can be used in other subjects as well. An art instructor can teach how to identify a particular painting style by placing images of different paintings on the whiteboard and circling their defining features while recording the lesson. Whiteboards also work for assessments. Students can demonstrate their understanding of a physics principle by recording themselves solving equations on a whiteboard while describing the steps. This allows the instructor to see whether an error in the student’s thinking has led them astray.

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Using Padlet to Encourage Student Collaboration

Online faculty generally default to their learning management system’s discussion form to facilitate student collaboration or sharing. But Padlet provides an alternate format that can be much better for many purposes. The LMS forum is designed for linear, text-based discussions around a pre-established theme. This is good if a faculty member wants to corral discussion and keep it on track, but it is not so good for facilitating a more free-form, creative discussion that branches out into many areas. Padlet also provides a much more visually appealing, and thus inviting, system for facilitating content sharing among students.

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Mind Mapping Can Improve Papers

I mainly teach undergraduate writing and research methods classes and wanted to share my experiences with mind mapping, also referred to as concept mapping. I’ve found that using it can significantly improve student papers. It’s an excellent innovation that requires student writers to visualize how they would like to approach a writing assignment before they start writing. It encourages them to identify their central idea and graphically illustrate how the main and supporting points advance the paper’s thesis or central idea. This approach comes in handy in laying out a structure for the paper before students start writing. When they plan their “route” first, they end up with papers that coherently make their way to a conclusion.

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