Kahoot for teaching A-level sociology

Kahoot is an online quizzing platform which allows teachers to create multiple choice quizzes which can be played in-class by students, who access the quiz on a mobile device.

Students need to go to Kahoot.it and need a pin (unique to each quiz, and only available once the teacher makes the quiz live) to enter…

There are a few different ‘game’ options (there’s a matching/ ordering version) for example, but here I’m focusing just on the ‘classic’ Kahoot….

How Kahoot works…

NB – I recommend you go check it out for yourself, nothing like practice to get your head around it! (If, of course, you think it’s worth the time investment…)

Questions are projected up like this

Before the screen below just the question appears, for a set amount of time (I like to set this at 10 seconds) – this is thinking time!

And students see the coloured options on their phones like this..

They simply tap the option they think is correct.

Students get points for correct answers and for how quickly they answered, and their ranked at the end of each question in a leader board, and yes of course, there’s an overall winner after all the questions have been answered…

I like to set up a Kahoot with 15-20 questions, which is ENOUGH! Although I’ve seen some with dozens of questions.

You might also like to read the following two posts to see how Kahoot compares to…

What I like about Kahoot

  • Christmas in coming, and I don’t know about you, but if it’s a toss up between starting ‘experiments in research methods’ or playing Kahoot on that slack last day of term… well let’s just say Milgram can wait until January!
  • It’s possibly the most fun you’ll have in class in all year…
  • The background  ‘data entry’ side of Kahoot is very easy to use – it’s basically the same as for Quizlet, and, as with Quizlet, you can duplicate, modify and repurpose other people’s work.

What I don’t like about Kahoot…

  • Oh how the children lold all term, yet oh how they wailed when they came to their exams and realised they had no clue WTF analysis was.
  • Unlike Quizlet, you don’t end up with nice Flashcards which the students can use to review knowledge, and the quizzes aren’t available offline afterwards. IMO Quizlet is far better a time investment for A level sociology teachers.
  • It actually has quite a discouraging effect on those in the bottom half of the leader board!
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Socrative for Teaching and Learning A-Level Sociology

Socrative is a real-time feedback learning-tool which allows teachers to quickly produce multiple choice, true/ false or open ended questions in order to assess student understanding.

Personally I think Socrative is the most useful online learning tool available to teachers and students studying A-level subjects, much more useful than Quizlet, for example, although it still has its limitations.

How to use Socrative

NB – You might like to just go sign up and try it out, unless you’re a total luddite (in which case go sit down with your tech-bod at school) you’ll find Socrative so easy to use…..

Teachers sign up for a ‘teacher account’ and can creating quizzes in advance of the lesson, or use the quick quiz option to ask one question at a time in class. Teachers will also need to create an online ‘room’ where students can join to take part in the quiz – you’ll need to call the room something simple live ‘Dave’s Sociology Room’. (Actually ideally something shorter than that – Maybe DSOC1, for example).

Once the teacher has started a quiz, students can access the quiz room by any browser, via the Socrative homepage or by the Socrative app if installed on phones/ tablets, and by entering the teacher’s ‘Room Name’ (which will be up on the screen once the quiz is live).

The teacher has the option to make progression through questions either 1 then all pause, or self-paced, and you can put in right or wrong answers, and add in explanation for why a particular answer is correct.

I’m not sure what the upper limit of entrants is, but Socrative has handled more than 20 in my class easily. The beauty of Socrative is that once students have completed all the questions, you get an overview of what questions they got right or wrong – here’s an example from a recent ‘education policies‘ recap I did at the beginning of one lesson the week after we’d taught social policies (in fairness to my teaching, questions 4 and 8 were designed to be tough! Also note that for question 9 I hadn’t set a ‘correct answer’ so it hasn’t colour coded).

socrative.jpg
clearly questions 4 and 8 need reviewing

 

And you can dig deeper into responses for each question too, simply by clicking on the question links above…. please note that in order to get a correct answer, students had to identify all three of the polices, and only those three!

Socrative questions

Incidentally, another great use for Socrative in sociology is simply to type in the same questions used in ‘opinion surveys’ to get an immediate feel for how students’s values correspond to that of the nation… here’s a sample of today’s students showing that they’re anti-immigration, but probably not quite as intolerant as their grandparents….

immigration survey

In the background of Socrative

Once you’ve signed up as a teacher, you get presented with the options below.. I won’t explain how it’s done, it’s so easy to use!

socrative review

Uses of Socrative for teaching A level sociology:

  • As with Quizlet, it’s great for recapping basic knowledge… however, an advantage over quizlet is that it allows you to enter much more challenging multiple choice questions, with answers close together to make students think.
  • You can tap into analysis and evaluation skills, simply by alternating multi choice knowledge questions with open ended questions asking students to simply justify their answers.
  • You can use the open ended question function to get students to write Point Explain Elaborate Evaluate essays collaboratively, live online.
  • With the quick question function, you can get students to select the best answer!
  • You get immediate feedback about what students need to review.
  • Socrative stores the reports for you, even with the free version.
  • You can collect a lot of data about formative learning here, especially if you can figure out a way of combining it with previous attendance, effort etc…

The Limitations:

  • For the free version, it only works when it’s live, you have to actually run it! The quizzes aren’t there all the time for constant review as they are with Quizlet.
  • Whose got time to actually use the data collected?

P.S. If you want to use the above education policies quiz – here’s the code…

SOC-31071794

 

Using Quizlet for Teaching A-level Sociology

Quizlet is basically an online flashcard and quiz generator – you simply set up a discrete ‘study set’, for example, ‘the Functionalist Perspective on Education’ and create a range of flashcards with brief definitions of key concepts or an overview of the key ideas of theorists, or even ‘stock evaluations’.

In the background of Quizlet… it’s so easy to use…

Sociology quiz

 

Quizlet saves your Flashcards and creates a number of different test formats – the three most useful of which are ‘learn’, ‘match’ and ‘test’, at least IMO for reviewing basic knowledge of A-level sociology.

teaching sociology online
Quizlet’s range of test options

It’s extremely useful for reviewing AO1 (knowledge) and ‘stock’ AO3 – evaluations – basically any kind of knowledge that you might usually review using a sentence sort or matching type activity – content such as…

  • basic definitions of key sociological concepts – such as this ‘research methods, the basics‘ quizlet
  • the key ideas of the sociological perspectives – Functionalism, Marxism etc – for example this ‘Functionalist perspective on education‘ quizlet
  • reinforcing categories of knowledge for some A-level sociology content -e.g. what’s an in-school factor, what’s an out-of school factor, what’s a pull factor, and what’s a push factor…. you might (you might not!) like this ‘rinse and repeat Functionalism/ Marxism‘ test I put together.
  • key facts and stats (assuming the answers are very discrete – basic stats on education, crime and the family for example.
  • The strengths and limitations of research method.
  • key names – the basics of who said what, who researched what.
  • basic ‘stock evaluations’ one perspective makes of another.

What Quizlet is useful for (for A-level sociology)

  • There are lots of concepts which students need to know, a combination of flashcards, testing and matching games are quite useful for keeping this ticking over.
  • It’s also useful for getting students to spell certain words correctly, some of the testing formats demand this!
  • It gives feedback on what students keep getting wrong.
  • NB – Unlike Socrative and Kahoot, Quizlet tests are always around, always ‘on’ if you like, students have access to the information at all times, the other two are only playable ‘live’.
  • There is an excellent ‘live’ version of Quizlet which randomly allocates students to teams – I won’t explain how this works here, but it’s quite a nice way to break up a lesson!
  • If you sign up for the pro-version, you can create classes and monitor students work – although I imagine professionals already have enough data to deal with!
  • You can also nab other people’s Quizlets… copy them and edit them so they fit you’re own particular whimsy…

What are the limitations of Quizlet?

  • I cannot see how you can use it to develop analytical skills. I suppose you could with the use of careful and cunning questioning, but I can’t see the point, you may as well just do this aspect of teaching face to face.
  • Also, the same goes for deep evaluation skills, you can’t really tap into this.
  • Basically, you can’t develop ‘chains of reasoning’ on Quizlet, or do anything developmental and discursive.

In conclusion – how to use Quizlet effectively for teaching A level sociology? 

Recognize its limitations – good for basic knowledge reviewing, memorizing in a rinse and repeat style, useful for breaking up lessons occasionally, but you can’t develop effective analytical or deep evaluative skills with it!

NB – You also have to make sure that one side of the flash card is short, ideally just one word, rather than complex and long-winded questions. That way most of the test functions work much more effectively.

Problems with the increasing involvement of technology companies in education

There are four main problems of the increasing role of large technology companies in education, all of which stem from the incompatibility of the values of Silicon Valley Digital Capitalism and Public Education:

  1. The algorithmic approach to education cannot take into account the social and moral complexities of real world education.
  2. The idea of ‘learning through failure’ is incompatible with supporting every child to develop
  3. The focus on individualized entrepreneurialism may be incompatible with ideals of social cohesion, justice and equality of opportunity.
  4. The influence of technology companies in public education undermines the democratic process.

Technology companies education.png

Challenging the Benefits of Commercial Education

Large technology companies and their enthusiasts have made grand claims about both the problems of traditional public education and the potential benefits of disrupting business as usual through digital innovations such as MOOCs.

However, many of the technological disruptions of the last decade have simply failed to deliver positive results – in short, they have promised much but delivered far less.

The tech companies may well blame public education officials for failing to embrace their technologies (and/ or ideologies), however Neil Selwyn argues that tit is more a case of technology companies failing to ‘get’ public education, and the enormous complexities which surround the realities of educating people.

Below I summarize four ways in which the culture of technology firms are incompatible with the culture of public education, as identified by Selwyn (2016)

The problem of viewing education as a ‘computational project’

Innovations such as Coursera, Thiel Fellowships etc. tend to see education as a discrete computational project, that is a set of variables which can be manipulated and programmed so as to avoid any bugs or inefficiencies.

The problem with this ‘reductive approach’ is that education rarely contains variables that can be adjusted or manipulated to achieve optimal cause and effect – in reality, the social complexities of the real-world contexts in which learning takes place cannot easily be included in algorithmic models designed to make learning ‘more efficient’.

Similarly, it is questionable whether a computer can be programmed effectively to answer moral questions about the content of what a student, or students should be learning more generally.

The problem of ‘learning through failure’ 

In the Silicon Valley world of hi-tech start-ups, it is expected that the vast majority will fail, but the handful that survive will go on to be game-changers.

However, this ‘fail fast, fail often’ approach does not necessarily translate well into education, as the start-ups will be gambling with the futures of individual students, schools, or even districts… As Bill Gates reflected on his Foundations forays into education reform… ‘it would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we probably won’t know for a decade’.

This approach clearly does not fit in well with the ‘supporting every learner to succeed’ model advanced by the social democratic ideals of education.

The Problem of Focusing Too much on Individualised Learning 

Silicon Valley idealism is also rooted in a libertarian belief in the values of personal freedoms and the individualization of action, with a skepticism towards ‘experts’ working within traditional institutions (such as education) which are generally seen as inefficient.

Innovations such as the MOOC or Flipped classrooms are examples of educational transformations which have emerged out of this individualist philosophy. Such disruptive technologies can, at one level, be seen as tackling inefficiency in the provision of existing educational provision.

However, such disruptions might undermine a number of the traditional social democratic values inherent in public education, such as those of promoting community cohesion, communal responsibility and the public good, rather than just emphasizing individual gain.

Such innovations may also undermine the ideal of equality of opportunity. Some research suggests that MOOCs for example are primarily accessed by people from privileged backgrounds, who already have degrees (source forthcoming).

Big technology companies might undermine the democratic process

When the executives of companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have something to say about education, education ministers tend to listen. This has led some commentators such as Joel Spring to suggest that such companies operate as ‘shadow education ministries’ – the problem here is that large tech companies are playing a role in shaping our education systems, they profit from it, and yet they have no accountability!

Conclusion

It’s unlikely that technology companies are going to stop trying to disrupt education, and it’s unlikely that our increasingly neoliberal public managers are going to stop them. However, it’s also unlikely that the public are just going to give up on the ideals of social democratic education that easily, and so at some point stakeholders in education are going to have to figure out a way of reconciling the approaches to education advanced by Silicon Valley digital technology firms and those which persist in our public education systems.

Source 

Nick Selwn (2016) Is Technology Good for Education?

How Technology Companies Manipulate our Behaviour

Design features such as likes, swipes, notifications and autoplays make being on-line more addictive, less autonomous, and cause pyschological and social harm, at least according to this recent Guardian Article by Paul Lewis: Our minds can be hijacked: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia‘.

Are we all digital technology zombies?

Below I summarize this article and add in a few comments.

Technology companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google have incorporated a range of design features into their mobile devices, operating systems and social media applications that make them addictive, which results in us spending longer online than we really want to, clicking on links we never intended to and making us more distracted, less rational and more impulsive than ever.

Former Google employee Tristan Harris says that all of our minds are “jacked into the system” and “all our minds can be hijacked. We are not as free as we think we are”. Harris believes that tech companies deliberately set out to make their products addictive, as they are oriented to respond to the incentives of an advertising economy and thus experiment with techniques which are most likely to grab people’s attention.

As an example, Harris points out that the Facebook icon which notifies users of new activity and ‘likes’ was originally blue, but no one used it, then they switched it to red, and everyone used it, because red is a trigger colour, which is why it is used as an alarm signal. Now the red icon is everywhere, and every time smartphone users glance at their phones, dozens or hundreds of times a day, they are confronted with small red dots, pleading to be tapped.

red notification icon
The Red Notification Icon – Inducing the anxiety of variable rewards?

The most seductive design, according to Harris, exploits the psychological susceptibility that makes gambling so compulsive – variable rewards. Each time you swipe down you don’t know what’s coming next, either an avalanche of likes, or nothing, and the action even mirrors that of the slot machine: a human action to ‘pull down’, and a pause before a variable result. The pull-down to refresh was originally designed in 2009, and has since become one of the most widely emulated features in apps – even though refreshing can now be done automatically, the pull-down function remains, because if users aren’t involved in the process, then the experience is less addictive.

social media swipe addiction
Swipe to refresh and lock-in your addiction

Justin Rosenstein designed the like feature for Facebook in 2007 – to create a means to send ‘little bits of positivity at the click of a button’, creating what he now calls ‘bright dings of pseudo-pleasure’. ‘Likes’ were  wildly successful, and hence they spread to a range of other social media platforms, and now it is the short-term pleasure of this social affirmation that is one of the features which drives people to touch, swipe or tap their phone more than 2500 times a day on average.

Facebook Like
Facebook like – dings of pseudo-pleasure?

Tech companies can exploit such information to keep people hooked: manipulating, for example, when people receive ‘likes’ for their posts, ensuring that they arrive when an individual is most likely to feel vulnerable, or in need of approval, or just bored, and such information can be sold to the highest bidder.

James Williams, a former Google employee who built the metrics system for the company’s global search advertising business, but has now turned critic of the industry, describes the tech industry as one which has the ‘largest and most centralised form of attentional control in human history’ – he had an epiphany moment one day while working at google when he glanced at one of Google’s multi-coloured dashboards showing how much of people’s attention the company had commandeered for advertisers. He says that he realised ‘this is literally a million people that we’ve persuaded to do this thing that they weren’t going to do otherwise.’

Some of the Negatives Effects of Being Online

Firstly, technology may be contributing to so-called ‘continuous partial attention’ – In the attention economy (driven by the needs of advertisers) – everyone is distracted most of the time – which actually prevents us from getting things done, the complete opposite of what technology was intended to do!

Secondly, the attention economy thrives on a ‘sensationalise, bate and entertain’ logic and as a result the media is now is now more than ever biased in favour of that which is sensationalist and entertaining. People like Donald Trump do well in this environment because they are good at grabbing attention with their simplistic,  emotional and extremist views –  that which is rational is less likely to get attention than that which is impulsive.

Finally, and related to the above point, this may be changing how we view politics – we see it in increasingly polarised terms – because the only thing which grabs our attention at a similar level of Donald Trump is a similarly extreme reaction, in the form of Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn for example.

What are the solutions to avoid getting addicted in the attention economy?

Some of the big names who created the technologies of the attention economy are actually ducking out of it themselves – having turned off their social media updates, or even uninstalled most of the apps from their hardware.

Find out More

If you’re interested in Tristan Harris’ initiative to make digital technologies less addictive – you might like to check out his Time Well Spent Website, and his TED talk below…

Related A-Level Sociology Debates

As I see it this material fits in to at least two places on the A-level sociology syllabus:

  • This material seems to be coming from the structuralist side of sociology – that society shapes (or at least frames) social action. See this post: ‘Sociological perspectives: the basics‘ for an overview of structure versus action approaches in sociology.
  • There’s also some clear relevance to the increasing power of Transnational Corporations: this material certainly suggests that transnational technology companies wield enormous power to shape people’s actions.
  • If you study the media option for A level paper 2, no doubt it’s even more relevant!

 

 

Problems with Educational Technology

 

Neil Selwyn is critical of the technologically driven de-schooling agenda advanced by the likes of Sugata Mitra (who did the hole in the wall experiment).

His criticisms are based partly on his research into MOOCs, or Massive Open-ended Online Courses put courses online, have discussion on line and online tests….. the most attractive feature is that it is flexible, you learn at your own pace and when and it’s not place based.

started in in Canada in 2008 to 9, and have since taken Higher Education by storm – today massive companies. It took Higher Education by storm – massive companies, MIT Harvard, making profit. Of course the Open University, their Future Learn PLatform..

Sceptical about the idea that MOOCs and Holes in the Wall will lead to a de-schooling of society, or possibly a re-schooling, where we keep the four walls of the school but change everything within – from pedagogy to curricula.

He argues that this is a dangerous road to be going down because there are people who are not in a position to be able. They tend to favour the ‘already learners’ and the well-resourced. For example, HE MOOC courses, tend to attract those who already have degrees, and the drop out rate for such courses is huge.

We are also importing an silicon valley libertarian hyper-individualised agenda to all of this – that anyone can do anything and open ended technologies can help us to learn and do whatever we want.

However, a problem with this individualistic ideology is that it undermines that capacity for the school to ‘force’ people to learn empowering knowledge -the traditional schools is a great place to say to children ‘you need to learn maths’ or ‘you need to learn physics’, for example.

Selywn cites the educational philosopher Gert desta to add a layer of analysis to his argument: schools are sites where subjectification, socialisation and qualification take place – sites where we learn who we are (subjectification), how we should get along with people (socialisation) and what we can do in terms of not just knowledge but also skills (qualification) – these are all fundamental to our very identities and our capacity to achieve our goals in life, and Selwyn wants to chime a note of caution over increasing the role of globalised ed-tech companies in shaping these three self-forming processes – we need to think about the values and interests of these tech companies.

There is no such thing as non ideological education or non ideological technology – technology has politics and values

Liberia is an example of a country which has outsourced its elementary and primary education to Bridge International Academies.

One potential problem with this kind of outsourcing is that it replaces the power of the state to frame their education curricula and gives more power to globalised technology companies to do so

Neil Selwyn is a Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia.