Monday 14 January 2019

Creating Student Engagement with Acadly

There's a common quote that is often attributed to Woody Allen with various percentages, but basically, it goes like this, "Succeeding in life is 80% about showing up".

Although we might debate what the percentage needed to succeed, in eduction not showing up to class is one of the quickest ways to ensure failure.

But with many school and university classrooms getting larger, how do we ensure that students are turning up, being engaged and how do we know if they are learning?

The simple answer to all these questions is Acadly.

Acadly is a simple application that helps professors record attendance at the tap of a button, deliver engaging lectures and track what and how students are learning. Acadly does this by a simple combination of web-based platform and mobile apps for either iOS or Android.

To get started the teacher needs to set up their class schedule using Acadly's web-based application or mobile app and add their students' details. Then when students download the free app and register they will automatically be enrolled in the teacher's class. Then when they attend the class the teacher can tap a single button on their app and using mesh technology an attendance beacon will bounce around the students' mobile devices and track who is present. This all happens within seconds.

Other in-class features of the app include live polls and quizzes, student-led Q&A quizzes and the delivery of a range of digital materials and files as well as rewarding verbal or spoken student participation. In fact, Acadly enables you to run your classes completely paperless through your students' mobile devices if you choose.

The great thing about running the materials and interaction through the app is that it enables the teacher to track student scores and their engagement with the materials. Students can also access their own data so they also know how well they are doing and what they have missed from previous classes.

Teachers can also set homework through the app and add links to recommended reading text and videos.

Acadly also has a chat feature which you can use as a backchannel, so if there are extra links or materials you’d like to share with your students during the class you can simply pass them through the chat and students can open them on their mobile device. You can also type mathematical equations, if necessary, using a built-in LaTeX editor. And what better way to ensure that students aren't busy being distracted by Facebook than by keeping their phones busy working with course materials?

The other great thing about Acadly is that it is free for higher education professors and students, so it's easy to get started immediately with a fully featured version and there is no advertising. The company does have a business model though and they offer paid subscriptions to universities and help them integrate Acadly into their existing IT infrastructure, so attendance and learning data can be tracked across the whole of the institution. Acadly is already in use across California State University, CUNY, IIT Bombay and many more.

I think this is a really great tool and with a great approach to balancing enabling individual teachers and supporting its business through university subscriptions. I hope they soon start rolling this model out to other types of schools. I'm sure the attendance feature would have some huge benefits for schools and universities that need to track overseas student attendance for visa purposes, like those in the UK.

I hope you find Acadly useful.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at:

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Nik Peachey