Using Google Moderator at Gustavus

Posted on April 30th, 2010 by

Google Moderator allows an audience to “decide which questions, suggestions or ideas interest them most”.  Visitors to the site submit a question (or suggestion or idea) and identify which questions they like from other contributors.  The list of questions can then be sorted by the popularity of the question.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about how this service might be used in the classroom and on campus.  Here are a few possibilities that came to mind.

  1. Reading Clarification: In larger classes such as General Psychology or BIO 101, a professor could ask students the night before class to indicate what topic from the assigned reading they understood the least.  Then, the professor could look at the topics that received the most votes and adjust their class session accordingly.
  2. Discussion Questions: For smaller seminars, faculty members sometimes have students write discussion questions and either bring them to class, email them to the professor, or post them on Moodle.  Instead, the students could post their discussion questions on Google Moderator and indicate which of their classmates’ questions they want to discuss.  The collectively ranked list of topics could be used to help guide class discussions.
  3. Guest Speakers: Possibly you are inviting an outside speaker to a class or your department is hosting a talk.  Before the lecture, students could post and rank questions/topics for the speaker to discuss at the end of their talk.  This list could be shared with the speaker ahead of time.
  4. Nobel Conference: The Nobel Conference may already have a similar system, but if not, they could use Google Moderator as a way of deciding which questions asked by people watching the webcast should be included in the panel discussion.  Furthermore, people who are in the audience on campus and have web access from their phone could also submit their questions via Google Moderator, reducing the reliance on paper slips passed throughout the audience.  The Nobel Conference is much larger than a classroom, but the Obama Administration has used it to collect 10,000 questions from 20,000 people so the system seems to be able to handle a large volume of questions.

Any other ideas of how it might be useful on campus?


One Comment

  1. Joe Lencioni says:

    Great suggestion about using Google Moderator for the Nobel Conference. We actually used it last year for the question portion of the conference, and I believe we are planning on using it again this year. Keep your eyes peeled!