Benjamin Kelly has been using a formative quiz for the past two years in his course ATSI1011 Indigenous Australia, guiding students through a series of questions asking them to consider the appropriateness of how certain words and phrases are used in the context of Indigenous Australia. The content was previously taught in an offline manner but was considered tedious and difficult to teach in this way and set a somewhat negative or authoritarian tone early in the course. There was also a need for international students to gain a better understanding of the uniqueness of Indigenous Australian terminology that was particularly foreign to them initially.
The decision was made to target the learning outcomes via a custom-built module using Smart Sparrow, consisting of drag and drop and multiple-choice questions with specific feedback targeting common misconceptions. The module itself is not graded, but completion of the quiz is worth 2% of the overall grade for the course. It took around 10 hours of Ben’s time initially to build this module but has already started to see the benefits of freeing up tutorial time that used to be spent teaching this content. Ben has been very pleased with the success of the module and has seen a marked improvement in the student’s use of appropriate terminology compared to previous years.
The module was built using Smart Sparrow to make use of the in-built drag and drop question builder functionality, as well as being able to program specific feedback for students to target misconceptions. The design of the module itself was also done in partnership with a local Indigenous artist in Sydney with Gadigal heritage, ensuring that the overall aesthetic was respectful and appropriate considering the subject matter of the quiz.
Deployment is done via the Moodle course using an LTI connection and provided as an activity link within the first two weeks of the course. Students are free to complete the module in their own time using any compatible device. Once students reach the final screen and hit the “End” button, a trigger is sent to Moodle to mark the lesson as complete for that student.
Pros & Cons
- Provides a richer interactive learning experience for students;
- Frees up time in tutorials that would usually be spent teaching this content;
- Is built using a local indigenous artist for the design;
- Has been effective with a marked improvement seen in students after taking the module compared to previous years.
- Is soon to require maintenance as the terminology guide that it was built around is now close to ten years old;
- Maintenance may need to be conducted with the assistance of others who know their way around Smart Sparrow, or training needs to be provided;
- There has been at least a few instances of the student’s completion record not being sent across to Moodle – unsure if this have been due to technical glitches or user error.
All teaching staff at UNSW can use Smart Sparrow as part of the enterprise license – if you require an account, see this page;
If you are new to Smart Sparrow, it might be best to first get familiar with the instructor side of the platform via their knowledge base;
If you are experienced using Smart Sparrow, you may use the demo link here to create a copy of this lesson and re-purpose each screen with your own questions;
Best practice tips
Not all the content translated well to an online setting – this was usually due to things like the inflection, tone and the context used for certain words. It’s possible to cater for this but may require the use of audio recordings;
It’s important to factor in maintenance – who will keep the module maintained, does the person responsible know how to do it and how often will updates be required?
Interested in trying the module yourself? Click here to access the demo.