Home' Independence : Independence Vol 34 No 1 May 2009 Contents PRODUCT NEWS
42 Independence Volume 34 No. 1
‘Engage’ is a word quick to the lips of any
educator today. Unfortunately, it is assumed
that if students are attentive, they will learn.
The research is unequivocal: learning
outcomes do not follow automatically from
investment in high engagement technologies.
Improvements to student outcomes are driven
from more effective, consistent standards-
based instruction. Effective teachers create
a context sensitive to each student’s needs in
which assessment is continuous and formative.
Two classroom technologies have attracted
particular attention for their capacities to
enhance teachers’ potentials. Interactive
whiteboards provide the classroom with
a shared resource which, when effectively
integrated, personalises the lesson and
outcomes. Student response solutions have
taken a complementary path, focusing on
encouraging students to personally
experiment in the subject to achieve
a deeper understanding.
Over the past few years research has shown
extraordinary results from innovative
instruction practices, placing emphasis
on every student’s frequent participation.
Two distinct approaches are emerging:
• Choice based response solutions,
supporting continuous formative
• Text based solutions, stimulating higher
level thinking and collaboration.
Optivote: Enabling continuous formative
assessment in the classroom
With almost all responses being multi-choice
or numeric, answers can be viewed instantly,
enabling teachers to identify students
experiencing difficulties and implement
Furthermore, the use of anonymous voting
creates a level playing field, no longer leaving
the interactivity benefits to the top achievers.
Dr. Des Duthie (Nelson Boys High School,
New Zealand) has long been an advocate
of such practices. He emphasises supporting
a safe environment where students are
expected to anonymously venture their
responses to challenges posed by a teacher
in class, so that the group can learn through
‘I discovered (somewhat to my surprise), that
all students really, badly, want to get the
answer correct. Given a safe environment,
all students will take a risk.’ Des concludes:
‘If you don’t care for 30 per cent of your
students’ progress, then this system isn’t
something you’re going to try. This is a system
you will use because you care for every
Interactive Whiteboards Australia Pty Ltd has
introduced Optivote to Australia. Linking to
any PowerPoint lesson, Optivote ensures
continuous student participation, providing
instant feedback to guide the lesson.
At a fraction of the cost of other systems
Optivote is easily the least expensive path
to continuous formative assessment in the
WordWalls and Cleverclick texting
Texting response systems are designed to
support interactive learning through student
involvement, with less emphasise on
assessment. Teachers provide stimulating
questions or subjects, and students are invited
to text their own responses onto a shared
surface (often but not necessarily an inter-
active whiteboard). The mobile phone-style
response pad provides each student with
directional, text and number controls.
Because students can respond in their own
words, responses are unique and cannot be
automatically assessed. Rather than distracting
the teacher on instant assessment, WordWall’s
real value is in ensuring every student is
Continuous student participation: Dream or reality?
Effective teachers create a context sensitive
to each student’s needs in which assessment
is continuous and formative.
active, creating ownership and engaging
higher level thinking.
Increasingly, Australian educators are
recognising the role of student response
pad solutions in the classroom.
Response + Interaction
Rapid development in both response systems
and interactive whiteboards has seen them
positioned as stand-alone technology.
Although the position may be true in part,
its effect has been to limit the full capabilities
of each unit.
Having developed an interactive interface,
WordWall have taken a big step in combining
the interactive and engaging nature of
response systems and interactive white-
boards. When used in combination teachers
are able to keep the lesson student centric,
whilst also remaining in front of the class and
in complete control of the interface.
Enabling teachers to achieve the continuous
active participation of every student in the
class is now an opportunity, not a dream.
Pablo Garcia owns several businesses
providing solutions to the education
sector. Holding a Masters in aeronautics
and thermodynamics, he can hold his
own in most physics classrooms, but
these days Pablo spends his time
working with educators to devise
improved ways of achieving student
outcomes. Pablo has driven the
development of the 2Touch interactive
whiteboard, and is an enthusiastic
advocate for solutions and practices
which open students’ and educators’
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