Monday 9 September 2013

Making lectures and lessons more interactive with mQlicker

As the traditional lecture has come increasingly under fire for being completely out of touch with modern teaching and learning methods, there has been a move by many teachers, conference presenters and lecturers to make their teaching techniques more modern and interactive. One of the key technologies for enabling this has been a range of audience response systems that provide real time responses to polls, questions and surveys while the speakers is actually presenting.

It’s great that many teachers are taking this step, but some of these response systems like mQlicker can deliver much more than a simple audience response, in fact you can use them to initiate debates, brainstorm ideas or even develop complete units of elearning which can help you to ‘flip’ your classroom and create motivating blended learning materials which encourage and keep track of student engagement.

mQlicker has a number of ways of encouraging interaction and displaying results. To see a live demo of how mQlicker look at:

Be sure to tab through the different questions types, enter data and use the settings tab to change the way the data displays. I particularly like the word cloud type data display for text and numerical entries.

To set up your mQlicker interactions you need to register and log in on the mQlicker site. This is free to do.

Once you have done this you see the admin user interface. This is much simpler to use than it looks at first glance and the initial field shows you the 6 step instructions for how to create your poll or questionnaire.

Once you have created your questionnaire and launched it, participants just need to go to: enter a numerical code and then input their response.

Here are 3 short video tutorial which show you how to do that.

How to create an mQlicker questionnaire 1

How to create an mQlicker questionnaire 2

How to create an mQlicker questionnaire 3

Why I like mQlicker

  • For a start mQlicker is cross platform compatible so as well as working an app on all the major mobile platforms it will also run in the browser on both mobile and desktop.
  • It has a range of ways of displaying participants responses which you can choose from. I particularly like the one which shows responses to text input as a word cloud.
  • I really like that you only need to set up one fixed URL for responses and that respondents just enter a short digital code. This makes it pretty simple to get people to the right place at an event and they don’t have complex URLs to copy down or registration codes to handle.
  • mQlicker is pretty simple and straight forward just to get started with, but it also comes with a complete manual that you can download to start digging into the more complex capabilities.
  • You can embed mQlicker chart results into a presentation (PPT) and make it dynamic so that your presentation slide updates automatically when people vote.
  • It’s easy to reuse questions or questionnaires with multiple classes as it collects questions together in a question bank.
  • There are premium services if you want something that looks customized for your company or event.
Some tips for getting the best from audience response
  • Don’t limit participation to the room. Why not send out surveys and polls for response through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook or through a back channel chatroom, then you can get a much wider variety of opinion and get the people in the room to respond to that.
  • You can use the tool to brainstorm, especially with the word cloud data display. This would be great for brainstorming vocabulary based around topics, or words which collocate with ... etc.
  • You can set up before and after votes for in class discussions, to see how many people can be persuaded to change their minds.
  • You can create complete flipped interactive learning, by creating questionnaires with a video embedded into a slide at the beginning and then a variety of questions to get students exploring the video content. Then when you come to class students are prepared and you have some response data to get them working with and thinking and talking about in class. Using videos for flipped learning in this way when you are tracking the responses,  puts more pressure on students to actually do the work and watch the video as they know their responses are being tracked by the teacher.
  • You can create questions based around images, so be sure to take advantage of this feature to help stimulate response from the students.
  • You can allow students / participants to be anonymous, so this is a great tool for doing action research and to collect genuinely honest feedback on your teaching methods or content.
  • You can use it to make your classroom more democratic, by setting up votes to find out which parts of the book or course students most want to study or what kinds of activities they want to do next.
  • It’s great that mQlicker can enable open text input, so make the most of this feature. Participants are often frustrated wit questionnaires or polls that don’t really provide the answers that they want to give. Creating open text questions gives the respondent much more ability to express what they feel. This can though be more difficult for you to analyze statistically
  • And last but not least you can use it for assessment and set micro tests as you class progresses. This can assure you that participants are following and understanding your message.

mQlicker is a great free tool for making your classroom, lecture or conference presentation more interactive. It would be great to see more tools like this being used at conferences and in classrooms, but of course you do need to make sure that your venue or classroom has good connectivity and get people into the habit of coming along ready with devices to participate, but as mobile and tablet penetration grows in the education sector and educational authorities realize that we have to stop banning these devices from classrooms and start exploiting them more fully.

I hope you find mQlicker useful

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Nik Peachey

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