Study Island Feature Focus: Group Sessions

Friday, September 4, 2015 -- Hugh O'Donovan

April 1607: the first settlers arrive at Jamestown. July 1969: Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. July 2014: LeBron returns to Cleveland. August 2015: Edmentum releases Group Sessions for Study Island. What is Group Sessions, you may ask? We’re glad you did! Group sessions is our newest classroom response system solution. Better yet, it is included with your Study Island subscription!

As defined in this white paper from Carnegie Mellon University, a classroom response system (CRS) is, “any system used in face-to-face settings to poll students and gather immediate feedback in response to questions posed by instructors.” Over the years, we have seen CRS usage ebb and flow within the Study Island program. Last school year, customers logged over 25,000 clicker sessions, and in the past five years, nearly 530,000 clicker sessions were registered. That’s a lot of classrooms utilizing this technology, but that number also tells us that there are many more which are not. Research quoted by the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College tells us that “(CRS) based instruction makes students active participants in the learning process” and that a CRS “creates a more dynamic, interactive classroom experience which can be enjoyable and fun for both the instructor and students.”

As we all know, the capabilities of technology have skyrocketed over the past 30 years, especially in the realm of handheld personal devices. However, we also know that there is a high cost and sometimes a steep learning curve associated with adopting new technologies. So, we started thinking—why not use devices that students are already familiar with or already have to enhance learning? With cellphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops, students are armed with an enormous amount of technology that can be utilized in the classroom.

Enter, Group Sessions. With Group Sessions, students can answer multiple-choice and technology-enhanced questions via most mobile devices on any topic in Study Island or any questions created by their teacher using Study Island’s Custom Material tool. Results are immediately recorded in Study Island, providing teachers with instant access to actionable data. This gives teachers the ability to conduct simple, measurable, and easy-to-use whole-class activities without the cost of additional hardware.

Study Island Group Sessions is a versatile feature too. We frequently hear from teachers who want to assign Study Island as homework and record the results in the program. However, they are faced with limited or some students having no Internet connection at home. With Group Sessions, teachers can launch a session, create a printable worksheet, and save the session. Students can then take the printed worksheet home to complete. The next day, the teacher can relaunch the Group Session, students can enter their answers, and voilà!  This not only provides the ability to assign Study Island as homework for all students, but it also gives teachers a chance to answer questions and review areas where students had difficulty. Students’ data will automatically be accessible to their instructor through reports and Sensei for Study Island.

While it may not come with quite the fanfare of LeBron returning to the Cavs, Group Sessions can have a lasting impact for the classroom teacher. Use it as a quick formative assessment at the end of a lesson or hold competitions to prepare students for high-stakes testing. Any way it is used, Group Sessions affords educators the opportunity to engage students in a whole-class activities, and simultaneously provides real-time access to valuable data that will help inform instruction.

Want to see Study Island Group Sessions in action? Check out this quick two-minute preview video!

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