In the past couple of decades, with the advent of the Digital Age, an increasing number of teaching methods has been created, explored, and documented in various studies. Beyond the traditional lecture style where the instructor simply write on a chalkboard, PowerPoint presentations were introduced to help make the lecture more efficient, while clickers were advertised to provide a mechanism for students to participate interactively in a flipped classroom setting. Different methods can be accommodated in a modern classroom, yet doing so can cause inconvenience for both the instructor and the students, which impedes the streamline of the lecture progress significantly.
Benefiting from the rapid development of mobile technology, we now provide the community with a cloud-based learning management system, the iStarClass system. The iStarClass system integrates multimedia presentation slides, handwritten notes, student response technology, and many more to provide one cohesive flipped classroom experience:
(1) Multimedia Presentation: iStarClass system allows the instructors to prepare presentation slides that contains texts, images, videos, and more! Instructors can also import various existing media types to the presentation (e.g., pdf, png, & jpeg).
(2) Handwritten Notes: instructors can write or draw on the presentation slides during the lecture, while students can view these handwritten notes in real time.
(3) Student Response Technology: A student response mechanism is incorporated within the presentation slides, which allows the students to participate freely during the lecture, as well as the instructors to view and record students’ responses, then analyze them for educational purposes.
(4) Cloud-Based File Storage Service: Every course comes with a class drive, where instructors can store and share course documents with the students.
The iStarClass system can function on any internet accessible devices (smart phones, Pads, PC’s, and Laptops). No hardware purchase or app download is necessary, and all of these comes with absolutely no cost! Designed and developed by teachers and education researchers, it is a tool to flip your classroom for improved learning effectiveness, convenience, and flexibility.
The iStarClass system is a cloud-based learning management system that combines multimedia presentation slides, handwritten notes, student response technology, and many more to provide one cohesive flipped classroom experience. It works on any internet accessible devices (phones, pads, PCs, Laptops) with a working browser (6 years or younger).
The iStarClass system is designed to provide maximum efficiency for both the teachers and the students. Teachers can create classes and start voting in a matter of seconds. When preparing for lectures, teachers can integrate clicker questions (with existing material) into their lecture presentations in less than 5 seconds (based on typical fluency in using a desktop computer).
Coming into class as a wishful blank slate, students can create an account, enroll into a class, and start voting under a minute (depending on texting speed and the lengths of user and class ID’s). Second timer students can pull out their phones and send in their answers in seconds (assuming the answers are decided).
First time users, including teachers and students, need to sign up for an account to use the iStarClass system. The admin of the organization can grant individual users as teachers, so that they can create classes, prepare lectures, and start voting sessions. Each class also comes with a unique invitation code, which allows students to enroll the class, view the lectures, and participate in voting.
Creating, Editing, and Viewing Slides with Handwritten Notes
After a class is created, teachers and TAs can create lecture slides by clicking on the “Run Class” button. In the work space, they can not only add texts, images, videos, but also import existing media types to the presentation (e.g., pdf, png, & jpeg). The combined lecture slides are saved as a .moc file (media of online content), which they can run during lectures. If the machine that the teachers or TAs are using have touch screen capabilities, they can also draw or write on the slides during the lecture, which can also be saved in the .moc file.
Students who have joined the class can also view the lecture slides saved in the class drive (which can be accessed by clicking on the "Class Files" button) anytime during and after the lectures, with the slides being updated in real time. By combining different media presentations into one .moc file, the iStarClass system helps bringing cohesiveness to the flipped-classroom experience.
Creating and Participating in Clicker Questions
When preparing for lectures, teachers and TAs can incorporate clicker questions into the slides by clicking on the on the pie-chart sign on the upper left corner of that slide. The iStarClass system allows for single selection, multiple selection, and short text questions to be added into the slides. During the lecture, teachers and TAs can click on the "Start" or "Stop" button in the voting system toolbar to administer the clicker questions in real time, with the statistics (the timer and number of students online/number of students voted) displayed on the corner of the work area. After the voting is done, teachers and TAs can display the voting results by clicking on the "Show Chart" button, where the results will be organized as a bar graph (for multiple choice questions) or a list (for short text questions). By clicking on the "Export Vote Data" button in the menu, teachers and TAs can transfer the voting data to an excel file, download it to their local devices, and analyze them for research purposes.
Students who have joined the class can participate in voting by clicking on the "Enter Class" button, where they can choose or enter their answers, and submit them in real time. This can be done in any common electronic devices, including smart phones, tablets, and laptops, that have access to internet.