Even critics of massive open online courses, better known as MOOCs, shouldn’t deny the value of the student data those courses generate. Teachers can only gather insights into how engaged students really are with the material and how well they’re understanding it if they’re using a platform designed specifically to capture that data. MOOCs do this very well, and now University of Michigan meteorology professor Perry Samson (who also co-founded Weather Underground) has developed software to let his peers in lecture halls do the same.
The platform is called LectureTools, and it has some obvious benefits around helping ensure students engage with a course more than is naturally possible in a room full of 250 people. While class is in session, LectureTools lets professors quiz students using a variety of different formats, lets students submit questions and note when a slide confuses them, and even lets professors teach the course remotely if need be. At any time of day, during an afternoon lecture or at 3:00 in the morning, students can access the slides and other course materials and type notes, draw diagrams and generally engage with the material as they wish.