The flipped-classroom model, which has students do their classwork at home, works best when students come prepared. Eric Mazur, a Harvard university physics professor, has created a social tool to help that happen.
Perusall is a social learning platform that allows students to interact with others working on an assignment, pose questions, and receive email notifications when their question is answered so they can come to class ready to talk about the subject.
The platform also includes an assessment tool for instructors based on the quality of the responses posted, how often students comment, and whether those comments are posted before the next class. To keep extra work for teachers to a minimum, the app uses an automated assessment engine to analyze the postings.
In classroom tests of Perusall, Mazur found that 70% of his students read every assignment during the semester and 95% missed no more than a chapter or two. He is also working with publishers to make textbooks available through the platform, which can be integrated with most learning management systems.
“Education is not just about transferring information,” Mazur said in an article for eSchool News. “It’s not about getting students to learn what we know. I want my students to stand on my shoulders to solve the problems I cannot solve. To do that, active participation and social interaction are a must.”