Week 3 – Student Response Systems, Google Drive and Wikis


By the end of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain potential uses for student response systems
  • Identify pros and cons of various student response systems
  • Collaborate using a Google Doc
  • Explain potential uses for wikis in higher education


1. Student Response Systems

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page
  • Watch the conversation with Trisha Dowling on Tuesday, January 27th at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time (details about asking Trisha questions are provided in this section)

2. Google Drive

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page

3. Wikis

  • Visit and read / watch the materials on the module page
  • Post to the discussion form (on Canvas) your ideas for using student response systems, Google Drive and wikis.


1. Student Response Systems

In this section we’re looking at student response systems. Some examples of popular student response systems are Learning CatalyticsTurning Technologies, and Poll Everywhere–these are all systems that have a cost involved. A couple of free options using standard devices (smartphones, tablets, and laptops) that are with exploring are Kahoot! and Socrative. Some of these systems only allow for multiple choice and true/false questions, but they systems are evolving and expanding to allow for many more types of questions (word cloud, sketch, point to on an image, etc.).

There are a few primary reasons to utilize student response systems:

  • to engage all of your students in class activity at the same time (especially in a large class);
  • to provide opportunities for students to check their understanding; and
  • for the instructor to be able to immediately measure student understanding–not just the few students that speak up.

For further introduction to student response systems and the pros and cons of different types (hardware and software), please view the video below from one of colleagues here at the University of Saskatchewan, Tyson Brown.

A Really Quick Guide to Student Response Systems

This week for our Google Hangout, we’ll be having a conversation about student response systems with Dr. Trisha Dowling from the University of Saskatchewan. Trisha has been using student response systems while teaching her classes in a lecture theatre for a few years. She has explored a few different systems, and is currently using Learning Catalytics. A discussion forum has been set up where you can post your questions for Trisha, but you can also tweet questions using the course hashtag #ilt_usask. We will make sure that Trisha sees your questions so that she can respond during the live Google Hangout.

The Google Hangout is January 26 at noon (EST). A link to the session will be posted within one hour before the live broadcast. If you are unable to join us for the live broadcast a recording of the session will be available at that same link.

Further Exploration (Optional Video Presentations)

Here are two great presentations (45 minutes and 1 hour) that explore the pedagogy of using student response systems. If this is a topic that you are interested in trying, then watching these videos are worth your time.

  • TurningPoint: Where Pedagogy Meets Practice – This playlist explores using TurningPoint clickers, which are primarily multiple choice questions. If you are using a system with limited question types, then this gives you a great overview of how to use this effectively.
  • Eric Mazur: Catalyzing Learning Using Learning Catalytics – In this presentation, Dr. Eric Mazur from Harvard University explores the different question types options of Learning Catalytics. He has been developing the Peer Instruction teaching method for 25 years and in 2011 he founded the Learning Catalytics system as a way to enhance this effective teaching method.


Have you ever had the feeling that your students have questions, but are unwilling to ask them in front of their peers? One method to combat this is to use a backchannel tool in your classroom. These are online tools that allow students to ask questions or make comments throughout class, without having to speak in front of the group. If you want, you can use a tool that allows the commenters to be anonymous. Backchannel tools may also be used to continue the conversation outside of face-to-face class time.

TodaysMeet is a really simple and common tool for creating a backchannel in your classroom. It is completely free and takes less than a minute to set up. All you have to do is create a room and then provide students with the link to the room. Students will then be able to submit questions and comments. The submissions show up on a list similar to a Twitter feed. As the instructor, you can view this list and answer the questions.


Another common tool that is used for backchannels is Twitter. This is extremely common at conferences, but is becoming increasingly popular in classrooms. Essentially, all you need to do is ask your students to submit questions and comments via Twitter by adding a specific hashtag to their tweets. This hashtag should be something unique to your class, e.g. #ilt_usask or #psych120sk. To view the comments you search the hashtag on Twitter.

Backchannel tools can also be helpful as part of a debriefing activity. For example, you may have students working in groups and then ask a representative from each group to submit a brief summary of their discussion/answer. This allows you to hear from every group without needing to take the time to have them vocalize their response.


2. Google Drive

Google Drive is a service that offers a variety of features. One of the features is that it works as a cloud-based file storage service, similar to other services such as Dropbox, Skydrive, and Box.com. The other feature of Google Drive is access to their suite of apps, which is similar to Microsoft Office. Google Drive allows to you to create documents (similar to Word), slideshows (similar to PowerPoint), spreadsheets (similar to Excel), forms (surveys/questionnaires), plus a variety of other files.

Google Drive logo

The biggest draw for me in using Google Drive is the ability to easily collaborate on files. You can even work together with many other at the same time–if you’re collaborating on a document it will update right before your eyes as your colleagues make additions or changes. It is a really neat experience the first time you see it! You can also easily share your document with a small group or with the entire world with just a few clicks on a mouse. The advantage to this is that every time you update the file, the published version updates, as well.

Using Google Drive with your students in your classroom has a lot of advantages. Here are just a few of them:

  • Students cannot forget their work at home or not have the right version of the file (“it’s on my group member’s computer”)
  • Students can work in a group without having to get together physically
  • Students can share their files with you when they’re created and you can view the progression of their work

Competitors are beginning to catch up to Google Drive, but Google is not waiting to be overtaken as they are constantly adding new features and apps.

Below are a series of tutorial videos from AnsonAlex.com that provides training on using Google Drive. If you’re new to Google Drive, watch the Quick Start video and then choose the remaining videos in the playlist (upper left corner of the YouTube video) that fit your interests in using Google Drive. Note that the interface of Google Drive updates often, but the core functionality remains the same.

Google Drive Tutorial Series 2014

Google Drive logo is a trademark of Google. Use of this logo is not authorized by, sponsored by, or associated with Google.


3. Wikis

This week we’re looking at wikis (see the readings below) including what they are and how you might make use of them in your teaching. Wikis can be useful for collaboration or just as a central repository for information. While you’ve already learned about using Google Docs for this, wikis can often support more than simply text, allowing users to embed images and other media as well.

There are a variety of public wikis available for accessing information that others have posted, but you can also create wikis for use in your classroom. One of the options for creating a wiki is Wikispaces (there is a specific version for teachers called Wikispaces Classroom). Here is a tutorial video that shows how  to edit wikipages, add files, add images, embed content and create new pages on Wikispaces Classroom.

Wikispaces Classroom – Tutorial 3


Discussion Post (on Canvas)

For this discussion, reflect on the three tools presented this week: student response systems (including backchannels), Google Drive, and wikis. Post a reflection of no more than 250 words. Some questions you may wish to answer in your reflection include:

  • Do you have previous experience with any of these tools?
  • If yes, what were your impressions with their effectiveness?
  • How might you use one of these tools in your teaching?
  • Are there benefits in learning how to use these technologies (e.g, Google Drive, wikis) for students’ lives outside of school?
  • Should Wikipedia be used as a reliable source of information for students (and teachers)?

Respond to the posts of other participants in the course. Try to keep your responses under 200 words.