Teaching and Learning with ‘Lecture Tools’ [App Review]

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The first thing I noticed about Lecture Tools when testing this app is just how new this student response system is. Developmental support for the app is actually ongoing. Users don’t have to worry about new versions of iOS rendering the software obsolete. That’s caused problems with other student response services in the past, but Lecture Tools should be at least somewhat immune to these problems. In fact, the newest version of the software was already updated to work with mobile devices running iOS 6.

Lecture Tools lets students follow along with slides and videos that course instructors present in class. They can take notes and their notes will be automatically synchronized with the Lecture Tools site. Instructors who are really into this method of teaching can even leave questions for their students to answer or provide activities for them to do. The program will synchronize with the site whenever students do any work with the program.

Lecture Tools’ lineage is rather impressive. University of Michigan staff developed the program, and it’s currently distributed under license from that prestigious institution. Independent studies have actually shown that Lecture Tools increases student involvement in activity.

Large classrooms can especially cause problems for students. Many people don’t feel like they can connect with their instructors. These students might find a program like this easier to work with. Computer programs are a great way to visualize learning goals. They can also remind students of how much work is left to be done.

Some universities have developed their own apps as study aids, but this can be a huge waste of time. Application development can also be extremely expensive. Lecture Tools can more than likely fill the needs of most professors. Since it’s built on preexisting software, no one needs to go around developing his or her own programs. That also means less time will be wasted on teaching students to work with software.

Best of all, Lecture Tools also works with browser software on desktops and laptops. This means that some students could use the iOS app while others continue to use standalone machines. In fact, many people will probably want to use both the mobile and desktop versions of the software. Homework can be done at home, and students can then easily check it from their pockets. That makes class participation that much easier, and it might even get otherwise lackluster students to turn in their work on time.

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