Political Science Educator: volume 26, issue 2
Niva Golan-Nadir, the University at Albany, State University of New York, and Reichman University
During the teaching disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic, academicians became more familiar with online techniques, apps, and software for virtual teaching. Scholarly pedagogical engagements with the pandemic have pointed to several web-based apps that support online teaching (Brennan 2020; De Oliveira Dias 2020; Stafford 2020; Stefanile 2020), especially using Padlet (Al Momani and Abu Musa 2022; Jong and Tan 2021; Sætra 2021; Zainuddin, et al., 2020) and Mentimeter (Gokbulut 2020; Mayhew et al. 2020; Rudolph 2018). In this essay, I reflect on my experience using Padlet, Mentimeter, and YouTube videos in my in-person Comparative Politics and Research Methodology courses for undergraduate students at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy at Reichman University.
In political science, analyzing current events with theories and concepts from the course materials seems like the most effective tool for engaging with students in class. Teachers can facilitate this discussion through an online web-based discussion board on computers and mobile devices (though you might do so with other learning management systems like Blackboard). Padlet is colorful, intuitive, and easy-to-use web-based discussion board; and allows students to see their responses on the projector screen in class. It provides for anonymous student participation, eliminating shyness and the inconvenience of answering verbally in front of their fellow students.
Indeed, based on anonymous evaluations, I learned that the students enjoy these activities. Since receiving such positive feedback during streaming synchronous Zoom and hybrid classes, I decided to use these tools for my in-person teaching as well.
When using the Padlet discussion board, the class requires a certain structure that allows facilitates for an orderly pedagogical process in introducing course concepts and theories (as I describe below). First, lecturers must provide the students with constructed knowledge that includes the core of the material (that I recommend using PowerPoint presentations for). Second, lecturers should present live examples using current events through media reports found on YouTube that allows students to apply theory with “real-life politics.”
Covid-19, Zoom and hybrid teaching added an important third element–making students engaged in class using active participation features such as the Padlet discussion board App. During this phase, students analyzed a case study that was an example of the course’s theoretical material. The students then access a link with a QR code that directs them to post their reply on Padlet, for which they need no account. This makes the replies visible to the entire class to facilitate a class discussion. These anonymous student posts allow the lecturer to comment on the anonymous replies from students generally cautious or reluctant to present their answers.
Padlet contains several pedagogical advantages. When students add content to the discussion board, they become more active in learning. In this process, they translate information into knowledge that they have created and own. Creating the board also encourages teamwork and promotes collaboration between the students. A Padlet discussion board can operate in a single class, multiple classes, or across the entire semester. The boards visually organize information taught in the course and provide an alternate method for processing the information.
Finally, before the concluding stage of the class, I used Mentimeter to evaluate student understanding of the course material. As the lecturer presents concluding questions on the relevant materials, Mentimeter shows the reply rates in percentages. The lecturer then points to the right answer and explains it. Both students and lecturers benefit from the survey. The students test their understanding and the lecturers get a better sense of which material to repeat.
Figure 1 – Pedagogical process using web-based apps
Various types of courses may benefit from using apps in the classroom, but it offers particular merit for research methodology courses. Research methodology proves to be an especially challenging course for undergraduates, and Apps provides a valuable resource. Students learn about research design, data collection tools, and data analysis techniques that confuse students and abstract from their areas of interest.
Following a lecture on core concepts accompanied by a PowerPoint, I use a class exercise on data collection tools and analysis techniques on a current political topic that draws upon a YouTube video. Subsequently, I break students into pairs or small groups to post responses to course material on Padlet, and then use the app to project the responses to the class. This provides for a colorful and easy presentation of responses. I finish the class by reviewing the replies and highlighting common errors. This process provides for orderly learning–that with time students adjust and eagerly anticipate.
In conclusion, using methods of direct engagement (like Padlet, Mentimeter, and YouTube) ultimately keeps the class interesting, engaging, and appealing for students. These tools allow students a platform to express their own perspectives and personal experiences on class topics. Adjusting to such pedagogical methods in class can reinforce teaching techniques and allow students an easier transition to online teaching, if future circumstances shutter in-person classes.
Al Momani, Jehad Ali, and Mofeed Ahmad Abu Musa. 2022. “A Comparative Study of the Effectiveness of Using Padlet in Distance Learning: Viewpoint of Postgraduate Students.” Journal of Education and e-Learning Research 9(2): 95-102.
Brennan, Jonathan. 2020. Engaging Learners through Zoom: Strategies for Virtual Teaching across Disciplines. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
de Oliveria Dias, Murillo, R. D. O. A. Lopes, and Andre Correia Teles. 2020. “Will Virtual Replace Classroom Teaching? Lessons from Virtual Classes via Zoom in the Times of COVID-19.” Journal of Advances in Education and Philosophy 4(5): 208-213.
Gokbulut, Bayram. 2020. “The Effect of Mentimeter and Kahoot Applications on University Students’ E-learning.” World Journal on Educational Technology: Current Issues 12(2): 107-116.
Jong, Bonaventure, and Kim Hua Tan. 2021. “Using Padlet as a Technological Tool for Assessment of Students’ Writing Skills in Online Classroom Settings.” International Journal of Education and Practice 9(2): 411-423.
Mayhew, Emma, et al. 2020. “The Impact of Audience Response Platform Mentimeter on the Student and Staff Learning Experience.” Research in Learning Technology 28: 2397-2413.
Rudolph, Jürgen. 2018. “A Brief Review of Mentimeter–A Student Response System.” Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching (1): 35-37.
Sætra, Henrik Skaug. 2021. “Using Padlet to Enable Online Collaborative Mediation and Scaffolding in a Statistics Course.” Education Sciences 11(5): 219-229.
Stafford, Vanessa. 2020. “EdTech review: Teaching through Zoom–What We’ve Learned as New Online Educators.” Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching 3(2): 150-153.
Stefanile, Adam. 2020. “The Transition from Classroom to Zoom and How it Has Changed Education.” Journal of Social Science Research 16: 33-40.
Zainuddin, Norziha Megat Mohd, et al. 2020. “Enhancing Classroom Engagement through Padlet as a Learning Tool: A Case Study.” International Journal of Innovative Computing 10(1): 49-57.
Niva Golan-Nadir is a Research Associate at the Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, the University at Albany and at the Institute for Liberty and Responsibility, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy at Reichman University, where she heads the excellency program.
Published since 2005, The Political Science Educator is the newsletter of the Political Science Education Section of the American Political Science Association. All issues of the The Political Science Educator can be viewed on APSA Connects Civic Education page.
Editors: Colin Brown (Northeastern University), Matt Evans (Northwest Arkansas Community College)
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