Lecturer taps into the text generation

August 31, 2007

Kevin Linch does not raise an eyebrow when his students get out their mobile phones and start texting in the middle of a lecture - it is usually because he has asked them to, writes Louise Radnofsky.

Dr Linch invited students at Leeds University to text answers to questions he asked in his history lectures last year on the Second Hundred Years' War, which ranged from "What is your nationality?" to "Why did Britain go to war with France?"

The responses appeared in a web-based inbox, which was displayed on a projector screen in the hall for the group to discuss.

"It was a way of getting them to engage with the lecture quite quickly in a fairly straightforward way," Dr Linch said.

He also noted that he was getting more responses than when he had asked students to raise their hands.

Most of his students had mobile phones with bulk text- messaging payment plans, and nobody objected to the cost of participating, he said.

Dr Linch, a teaching fellow who also has administrative responsibilities, said he had also asked for texted feedback on the usefulness of a welcome meeting, with students sending in marks out of ten and comments.

Leeds is currently trialling a texting system for marketing purposes, and the university can send out mass text messages at low cost.

This year, Dr Linch hopes to send messages to his students in between lectures, suggesting ideas to think about as well as posing "pop quiz" questions.

"It's another way of prompting them to think about things, perhaps in a different way," he said.

"It might be a bit gimmicky at the moment, but I don't think it necessarily will be in the future," he added.

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