Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Study Finds Classroom Noise Useful

Some teachers see conversations in the classroom as disruptions that need to stop. A professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, is using voice-recognition technology to understand if the noise could help teachers gain a better understanding of what’s going on during class.

“I think one of the things we’re noticing is that even if you are incorporating active learning, it’s very easy to focus on the students at the front of the classroom raising their hands, and this data can let teachers know whether they’ve got an equitable spread of participation across the classroom,” Amy Ogan, assistant professor of human-computer interaction at the CMU School of Computer Science, said in an article for eCampus News.

The technology provides instructors with a dashboard that displays classroom activities in different lights. Sensors analyze sounds in the room, not specific conversations. The colored lights give teachers insight into whether they should change or continue their teaching approach.

The technology suggests classroom literature for teachers on ways to better engage students who aren’t participating by sending messages to their phones between classes. Ogan and her colleagues are also working on ways to use cameras to distinguish patterns in the things students do while they are in the classroom.

“We’re working with a university right now with lots of lecturing,” she said. “When the system detects that students haven’t participated in a while, we flash a big red screen on the instructor’s laptop to notify them to incorporate some student interaction.”

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