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Energy Training Today
A Blog by Enerdynamics

Student Response Systems Foster Interactive Learning

by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Facilitator

As we've discussed in earlier blog posts, today’s professional learner craves interactivity and is unwilling to sit and listen to non-stop lecture. But interactivity takes time, and managers are increasingly reluctant to have learners (their employees) take time out of the office for training. Courses that used to run for two or more days are now being squeezed into one day, or even half a day. Facilitators and instructors fear that unfettered discussion and exercises will take up too much time for them get through necessary material. One way to effectively manage the two conflicting needs is through use of student response systems.

Student response systems — also called clickers, classroom response systems, personal response systems, or audience response systems  — allow the facilitator to include frequent questions throughout the seminar. A system allows each student or groups of students to respond to a question using a specific device (provided by the facilitator or also can be the students' smartphones, tablets or laptops). Enerdynamics' seminars use a system with a device called an iClicker that looks like this:

Aggregated results are anonymously posted on the classroom screen. This provides multiple benefits:

Students are continually asked to think about and engage with the material
Frequent questions help keep students’ minds from wandering off – just as they start to lose focus, the lecture is broken up and their minds get a break
By only giving out one clicker for every two or three students, students get the opportunity to interact with each other in working to answer questions
Questions can be designed to encourage students to think beyond the material by asking “what if” or “what is the meaning of this” questions
Key points can be reinforced through discussion following posting of the results
Quiet or shy students get a chance to interact without having to speak up in front of classmates
The facilitator gets immediate feedback to see whether the students are understanding the material, and if not, can go back to key points

In our seminars, we use multiple types of questions. Some are simply designed for students to recall what they have already learned:

Source: Poll from Enerdynamics’ Gas and Electric Business Understanding seminar

Others require to the students to take what they have learned and apply it:

Source: Poll from Enerdynamics’ Fundamentals of Distributed Energy Resources seminar

And others are designed to have the students develop an opinion about a topic where there is no one correct answer. These questions are especially ripe for initiating a focused discussion among students (for the time-challenged facilitator, we suggest using this just before a break):

Once facilitators become familiar with using the student response/polling system, they often find multiple additional ways to quickly elicit learning in their students. A more comprehensive list of question types can be found in a piece by the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.  

Student response systems allow students to utilize various methods of providing responses including proprietary clickers provided by the facilitator, apps on mobile phones, or software on laptops. Many companies now offer systems, and options can be found with a quick web search. Based on the experiences of our facilitators and feedback from our clients, student response systems are one of the best tools now available to facilitate interactive learning.  

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Interested in learning more about Enerdynamics’ facilitated live seminars such as Gas and Electric Business Understanding, Fundamentals of Distributed Energy Resources, or The Future of the Utility? Visit our website at Enerdynamics.com or reach out to us at 866-765-5432 ext. 700 or info@enerdynamics.com.



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