Gauging the Pulse in your classroom with Microsoft Pulse

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Everyday, teachers battle against the furrowed brow of confusion, but Microsoft Pulse can help overcome that. For those teachers who have tablets in the classroom, Pulse provides an opportunity to gauge student comprehension and engagement in real time.pulse-6Pulse incorporates the use of a “Like” or “Dislike” feature that allows students to tell the teacher how they feel about the way that the lesson is being presented. Traditionally, teachers scan the room and look at student faces. Often, it’s hard to determine whether the look is one of confusion or daydreaming. With Pulse, this doesn’t have to be a problem. Moreover, despite the fear that it means children will be more focused on their tablets than on the lecture, the interactive quality actually ensures greater participation and engagement since students will be thinking about whether the lesson is making sense.

pulse-2Another excellent feature is the ability to set up quizzes. Often in the classroom setting, it’s useful to take the temperature of the class’s cognition. However, stopping the class, handing out a quiz, and then collecting it has no meaning when the quiz won’t be graded until after the students have left. In addition, no one really wants to add more grading to their lives. With Pulse, quizzes can be set up in advance and graded immediately. The teacher can track whether the lesson is connecting and revisit the information that has not been effectively communicated.

pulse-1The steps to making Pulse work are simple. After creating a login, the teacher will be taken to a home page that offers two options: Live Pulse or Video Pulse. For teachers who want to engage students in real time, the Live Pulse is the option. If the class is distance learning or is being used in a flipped classroom situation, the Video Pulse is the way to go. Getting started is as easy as creating an Event Name, saving, and sharing the custom URL. Users can fill in demographic information such as age/gender/political party. Then the user creates a pulse title which is the question the teacher wants the students to answer. The pre-filled suggestion is “Do you agree with the instructor, but something along the lines of “do you understand the lecture” might be even more effective. Then the response style gets filled in. Next the teacher is prompted to create a poll questions. What’s nice about this is that a teacher can make several polls that span the course of the class period and focus on the main ideas they’re trying to teach. If the students answer “No” to the poll, the teacher can go back and reteach the idea.

pulse-3Traditional classroom approaches informally poll students by asking whether anyone has a question. Most students shake their heads “no” and then fail assignments that address precisely the subject they said they understood. With Pulse, students don’t have to worry about being embarrassed by not understanding. Instead of the communication deadlock, teachers will be able to get solid, ongoing student feedback that tests how well kids are understanding the material presented. Pulse allows teachers to get the pulse of the room and be able to create a more student focused classroom by better understanding what students need.

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