P1-02: The Interactive Lecture

By Philipp Burckhardt, Christopher R. Genovese, & Rebecca Nugent (Carnegie Mellon University)


Given the contemporary enthusiasm that is inspired by group work, to some, the university lecture might seem like a remnant from the past. While tools such as audience response systems are increasingly adopted to provide more in-class interactions, their functionality is often limited to multiple-choice questions in an effort to support student discussion. It is crucial to equip instructors and students with a larger, more flexible toolset that increases the scope of their actions and interactions during lecture. At Carnegie Mellon University Statistics & Data Science, we have equipped lecturers with tools more commonly used in computer labs, e.g. data exploration tools, statistical widgets, and the like. Starting with a PDF document of their slides, lecturers can easily embed such interactive components, but also make annotations by writing or drawing on slides, asking multiple-choice or other questions to students and analyze and visually display the results in real-time. Students can also use the same interactive slides during lecture and can provide feedback on individual slides or ask questions in real-time. For example, an instructor might poll students about the murkiest point in the current lecture, cluster their free-text answers, and review the most common issues. The audience has access to the final annotated document, but instructors may also add additional material or fix errors in the annotations; these changes all propagate online. Since the underlying technical framework allows the recording of the lecture, it may also be viewed online or used later on in a flipped-classroom environment. In this poster, we will share how adopting such technology has changed our lecture slides and share suggestions that are broadly applicable to anyone who would like to introduce more audience interactions into their lectures or who is interested in moving to a flipped-classroom setting, irrespective of the usage of any particular technology.