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August 5, 2014 — When University of Wyoming students in Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker’s Aural Rehabilitation class pull out their cell phones and send text messages, it doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. Rather, they are using their electronic devices to learn their course material.
“My students enjoy pulling out their phones to text their answers,” says Cooley Hidecker, an assistant professor in the UW College of Health Sciences Division of Communication Disorders. “This then lets me see and correct any misconceptions that the students demonstrate. We do this once a week or so, usually as a warm-up activity.”
After learning about polleverywhere at the UW Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning, Cooley Hidecker became excited about using the technology with senior students in her Aural Rehabilitation spring course. Polleverywhere allows teachers to engage their classes anywhere and in real time. An instructor can ask a question, and students’ answers are compiled through text and web messages.
Polleverywhere can be used to ask questions such as “What is your least favorite super villain?” to “What superpower do you wish to have?” Polleverywhere also can be used for “true or false” questions and clickable image polls.
Cooley Hidecker says she uses the technology only once a week or once every two weeks, usually to ask reading assignment questions or conduct quizzes. Her goal is to ascertain whether her students are doing their outside reading and understanding the material.
“I’m always looking for ways to engage my students,” she says. “I can see what they understand or don’t understand. It lets me know whether to explain or go into more detail.”
Cooley Hidecker’s technology arsenal also includes Canvas, also known as WyoCourses on campus. For her Aural Rehabilitation course, she used the open-source learning management system to set up her course syllabus, and post reading questions and PowerPoint presentations, and conduct live discussion boards.
“I used the discussion board while I was at a conference this past spring,” she says. “I used it to tell my students what to read and discuss online each day.”
With all of this technology, would students get the idea they wouldn’t have to physically show up for class?
“It’s always my goal to make it worthwhile for my students to come to class,” Cooley Hidecker says. “For basic knowledge, they can read the book. Why they need me is to know how to apply the clinical application. That’s why they should come to class. They’re going to be speech-language pathologists and audiologists who will use these skills and knowledge with their future clients.”
She admits that she sometimes receives pushback from her students, who just want her to lecture. But Cooley Hidecker pushes back, too.
“I know where I want to get my students,” she says. “I want to have them apply and evaluate the material, not just (learn through) rote memory.”