Can Universities Use Data to Fix What Ails the Lecture?

In a large lecture hall at the University of Michigan, Professor John Barker relies on LectureTools, a data collection software that tells professors how students are reacting to lectures. Unlike online colleges that track student learning down to clicks and mouse hover times, traditional colleges still depend on grades, student evaluations, and old-fashioned methods to determine whether they are effective at teaching their expertise.

With LectureTools, students can take notes on the margins of slides, respond to questions built into the lecture, and even click an “I’m confused” button. With each interaction with LectureTools, students are compiling data that helps professors make sense of what’s going on in the heads of the students.

Though data-driven instruction in beneficial to improving teaching practices and the learning experience, applications like LectureTools are still only resources. The reality is that teaching is not a top priority for most research university professors.

Deans, departments, and professors are largely left on their own, and many prefer to devote their time and brainpower to winning research grants and publishing articles rather than to reworking their teaching methods with new, unfamiliar technologies.

For full story, see the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne Chan

Yvonne is a writer for Edtech Times who is most interested in technology's role in culture. When she is not combing the web for the latest in educational technology, she is reading classic literature or watching the game on TV. You may know her from Gradeable,, Emerson College, Busa Wine & Spirits, UMass Dartmouth, or Burlington High School.