I discovered mentimeter over a year ago and was eager to implement this technology within my teaching and obviously evaluate its use and effectiveness. So in this blog post, I will share my thoughts, be open about the lessons I have learned along the way and suggest useful ways to include mentimeter within presentations or classroom activities.
Mentimeter is an online interactive presentation tool, with no plug-in required and it’s free! (an essential factor for many educators when considering using or piloting a new technology). There is no limit to the audience size and each presentation can include two different question types or 5 quiz questions. I have used the open-ended comments, word cloud and multiple choice questions formats. Other options are scales where participants can rate a statement, 100 points for prioritizing items and a gamification option to find a winner. I think the range of options and ease of use make it my favourite new technology tool to use. There are payment plans which allow greater functionality particularly to include branding and exporting data to excel but personally for teaching and interactivity the free version is ideal.
I first used mentimeter to understand better how my 1st year students were finding their chemistry module. Have you like me experienced that moment when you ask students for feedback or pose a question to be met with a sea of silence? I can understand this, students are reluctant to speak up in a large group (particularly 1st year at university) and if they do, it can be to tell you what they believe you want to hear. Therefore, I introduced the open-ended comment function with my 1st year Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science students. It is the online version of write down on a post-it note your thoughts to the following question “What are your biggest challenges with learning chemistry?” The great thing with this mentimeter option is that the comments are anonymous so students can freely post their replies. From a teaching perspective I want to hear all comments, positive and negative, so removing the identity aspect, this allows students freedom to respond honestly. It allows a more inclusive approach, providing a mechanism for the ‘quiet learner’ to participate. I have also used this function during induction activities to ask students “how will studying at university differ from your previous school experience?” and engage them into this discussion.
The students really enjoy watching the comments appear on the screen. There is a profanity filter too although I have never had any issues with the comments written, just once when a student posted there would be a party and gave the details. We had to have a group conversation about professionalism. It didn’t happen again!
I have used multiple choice questions during lectures which is a great way to test understanding. There is the possibility to use peer-instruction with this approach and after having read “Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” earlier this year, I incorporated using questions prior to instruction to help maximise learning. I invited students to answer a question on chemical bonding at the start of the lecture with 8% of students selecting the correct answer. At the end of the lecture, it increased to 61%. I was very excited to see this in action.
My third mentimeter use was with a Word cloud to understand how my 1st year students were feeling about chemistry at the very start of the module. I allowed students to respond more than once which is the lesson learned. They got a bit giddy seeing the words appear as the word cloud created live and some students started to include inappropriate words and slang that I had to look up to understand! So next time they won’t have the option to post more than once.
Some of my colleagues have expressed concern about students using their phones during lectures and the potential distractions but I haven’t found this problematic. Setting expectations and managing unwanted classroom behaviours is always important. It has been very much a positive addition to my teaching practice. I have understood my students much more than previously and with my initial pilots, I have been impressed with the potential to use mentimeter from the instant interaction at the start of a presentation and inclusive student engagement to more structured learning developments.
PS I have no involvement with mentimeter, just sharing my experiences.