UMS Faculty Focus Blog

UMS Faculty Focus

The UMS Faculty Focus blog publishes articles on effective teaching strategies for technology-enhanced, classroom, online, blended, or flipped learning experiences.  Faculty e-Learning Grant recipients and other UMS faculty are welcome to contribute. Please contact the UC Faculty Development Center if you are interested in writing an article for UMS Faculty Focus at


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Technologically Enhanced Student Engagement

While much of my focus regarding polling device technology has surrounded summative and formative assessment I do want to take the opportunity to highlight that these types of technologies, both paid services and free, can create the optimal student engagement experience.  Pear Deck is just one of many technologies that can help enhance your classroom or online instruction and can aid in refocusing student’s attention on the subject matter at hand.

Anytime you can add interactions, both personal and technological, you elevate the classroom experience and begin to play upon student’s various learning styles.  Assessment of knowledge is just one way in which polling tools can be used within the classroom.  Some other strategies I have used include adding polls to classroom discussion as a way to begin conversation or to use as talking points to highlight topics that prove to be meaningful to students as you are focusing on areas which they have identified allowing for individual ownership of learning.  The same can be done at the end of a presentation to highlight key topics within the discussion and illicit feedback from your learners.

 I often recommend that students create a free Pear Deck account so that they may utilize the tool and add an interactive element to their own classroom presentations.  The wonderful thing about this tool is that it is a Google add-on and students within the University of Maine System are used to using Google Apps, so creating interactive Google Slides should come easily removing the barrier of having to learn new technologies which may deter from the actual learning experience.  Polling tools can also be a fun way for students to study within a group for an upcoming exam and it can be done either face-to-face or virtually allowing for study sessions which fit around busy individual schedules.  This is also a great way to get on-campus students connecting with commuter students, who often don’t stick around campus after their classes end for the day, for group work or study sessions. 

Finally, I like to use the tool as a way to end class sessions by asking students, “Where do we go from here?”  Are students keeping pace, are they where they need to be, do they require further instruction, or are we ready to move forward onto the next lesson?  It is also a great review tool to begin classes with especially in the case that you only teach once a week or want to review content covered over a particular length of time before a high stakes assessment.

I’d love to hear other idea of how you use polling technology within your classrooms and/or within the virtual learning environment.  Feel free to drop your comments below so we can learn from each other!

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