uMichigan professor’s software aims to improve traditional lectures

August 13, 2014

Some faculty at the University of Michigan have implemented a program called LectureTools, which collects data on students’ reactions to lecture material. The software is meant to solve a particular problem: while digital education initiatives are capable of collecting all manner of metrics about student participation, it is far more difficult to quantify students’ engagement in a more traditional classroom. LectureTools developer Perry Samson, a professor at uMichigan, says that “universities are doing students a disservice, because in order to make ends meet, we have these large intro courses that are just terrible environments for learning.” With LectureTools, he hopes faculty and institutions will be able to find meaningful data that can drive improvement. With the software, students can indicate confusion, respond to questions, and take marginal notes. Future versions might nudge the professor to respond mid-lecture if it detects that students are disengaged. Samson hopes to ease professors’ lives, but success still requires that students use the software, and that faculty are willing to act on the data it provides. The Chronicle of Higher Education