Thursday, May 12, 2005

Individualized Interactive Instruction--3Is for Better Learning


Professor William Kaiser and Students Posted by Hello

Good professors listen to students. That's one of the hallmarks of excellence in teaching. Imagine a class where students are allowed to ask questions anonymously. No more fear of asking a "stupid" question because no one in class will know who asked it.

Individualized Interactive Instruction (3I) is software created by UCLA electrical engineering Professor William Kaiser. Here's the best part. It's free! With 3I installed on student and professor laptops equipped with wi-fi, students can solve problems and ask questions, while the professor monitors students' keystrokes as they work on problems. The UCLA Daily Bruin reports,

This allows the instructor to pinpoint areas of deficiency for students, and offers an anonymous forum for students when they are stumped, which Kaiser and his students say enhances the learning environment.

In recognition of his achievements in creating and using 3I, Professor Kaiser was presented with the 2005 Brian P. Copenhaver award for faculty who promote innovation in teaching with technology. Kaiser comments, "I've always felt as a professor that I haven't been able to act with a lot feedback," Kaiser said. "For example, I might interpret a quiet group as bored, but it could be because I am going too fast in the lecture."

Future improvements in the technology that Professor Kaiser is considering include a laptop version and even a version that would work with text messaging on cell phones.

Here at Socrates Tech we haven't looked into adopting 3I yet. If we decide to move in that direction, we'll contact the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing for more information. The center, housed at UCLA, aims to improve the quality of eduction in the United States by studying how students learn and educational testing methods. Greg Chung, a senior research associate at the center, comments, "The technology is simple and it makes sense. I think it will help support large classes where instruction is really lecture-based."

Kaiser claims that 3I could easily be implemented in many disciplines. "It's not only the benefits for the students but there is a benefit for the instructor as far as reshaping the quality of the instruction. Students might find that their professor is becoming more effective."

As for the competition, Kaiser created 3I to go head-to-head against the Educational Testing Services' costly Discourse. In contrast, 3I is free, open source software, customizable by adopters. Bravo, Professor Kaiser.
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