Archipelago: Live Interaction Platform for Large Classes

Dr Soo Yuen Jien

What Used to Be

Traditional lecturing is a "one-way street", especially when the class size is large. The lecturer delivers the content in the best way he/she assume, but has no feasible way to gauge students' understanding on the fly.

Problems We Identified

Classroom interaction is prohibitively expensive for large class size. The time to setup, administer, collate interaction via traditional means take away valuable time. Furthermore, without a good gauge of students' grasp on the lecture topics, the lecturer tends to go into "autopilot" mode while teaching. Good teachers can only adjust their delivery based on after-class feedback (e.g., semester end student feedback, or student performance on tests/quizzes).

What We Did

We developed Archipelago, an online web based "crowd response system". Students, either individually or in group, can response to questions prepared by the lecturer swiftly though internet capable devices e.g., smartphones, tablet, laptop etc.

Archipelago provides a set of simple yet powerful question types to enable effective interaction. In addition, the platform is easy to use for students (no account / login required), while maintaining full tracking ability for the lecturer (students responses are captured in details).

How This Helped

Archipelago enables large classroom interaction. It has been deployed for courses with more than 300 students successfully. The lecturers feel that they are able to gain real-time understanding of students' learning progress, while near 85% of students feel that the platform increases classroom interaction. More importantly, more than 90% students feel that it is not intrusive and does not disrupt their lesson.