Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Timing is Important in Comedy, But is no Fun for Some Students

Please keep in mind that some students (I am one of them) have difficulty with timed quizzes, especially ones featuring animations and music. As a student I try to avoid avoid doing these, or push buttons at random to get it over with quickly. If the class features a lot of them, I will leave. If the course has a lot, I will cancel my enrollment.

I just took part in a training session for using an online pooling tool. These are now commonly used to make live learning more interactive. The tool can be used in a face to face classroom, or via video. The student is presented with questions on their computer, laptop, or smart phone. These are typically multiple choice. This is presented as a way to make learning more fun, but can be stressful for some students.

One of my worst recent learning experiences was going into a classroom and being told to do a quick poll. Flashing animated stuff, accompanied by video game type music then started on the large screen, along with a large countdown timer. Everyone else picked up a gadget and started clicking buttons. Then the screen said "Times UP!". Before I could ask for help, it started all over again. After a few rounds of this agony, it ended. It took me several minutes to work out how to get the application on my screen. I felt I was ready, but then all the flashing and music started again. After a few such quizzes I managed to answer some questions, but it was not a fun experience.

The poll tool I was being trained on today had the advantage of not including music, and had much less distracting animations. But it was not without problems. At one point I was told about the countdown timer, but there was no countdown timer on my screen. So I just picked answers at random, fearing I would run out of time. It turned out the countdown time doesn't display on the quiz page, but on the presenter's screen in Zoom. However, I had minimized the Zoom window, so I could see the quiz.

At another point we were being told about how you could have students click on images to make a choice. On screen were a row of different color simile faces. Then dots appeared over one. It turned out this was a quiz question, being run live. It hadn't occurred to me it was a question. Apparently the dots indicated what everyone (but me) answered, but I still have no idea what the question was. 

If such polls are used for assessment this will increase the stress level for some students, and for some, exclude them from the course. But even where there is a general mark for "participation" it will be stressful for some students. I suggest such polls be used with caution.

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