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Issue 27 – Put your lectures in the Hotseat

By Curtin Teaching and Learning October 11th, 2011 Collaboration and communication Mobile learning No Comments »

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Hotseat, a social networking-powered mobile Web application, creates a collaborative classroom, allowing students to provide near real-time feedback during class and enabling professors to adjust the course content and improve the learning experience. Students can post messages to Hotseat using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, sending text messages, or logging in to the Hotseat Web site.

Tap into your class’s backchannel

The backchannel has become a popular feature of academic conferences over recent years.  The basic structure of the backchannel is a behind the scenes discussion of the presentation by attendees and remote participants who are interested in a topic or speaker.  The backchannel has a well-documented decade-long history and has become a core component of many conferences.  The invention of the #hashtag (a form of metadata on live social media) means that conference participants can post and follow discussion points using social media like Twitter.

Enter Purdue University iTaP developers who decide to bring the idea of the backchannel to course lectures.  Some lecturers may be unaware that a backchannel probably already exists in their classroom.  Students routinely text and message each other about lectures during lectures, sadly this is often limited to a critique of the lecturer.  iTap developed Hotseat to engage students more productively in the lecture process and to tap into how well the lecture is addressing student’s learning needs.

Developing the Hotseat

Hotseat is, at its simplest, a microblogging system allowing lecturers to post questions and discussion points during a lecture.  Students are given an active voice and invited to contribute to the lecture by posting questions, comments and insights.  The system can be used to assess the level of interest in particular posts, and to poll the group on key understandings, and identify points for further discussion.

The Centre for eLearning has recently deployed Hotseat at Curtin.  Hotseat integrates a suite of tools including a web application, Facebook and Twitter that can be accessed via computers, laptops, smart phones and other mobile devices  like iPod Touch, iPad, and tablets.  Lecturers can set focus questions, assign Twitter #hashtags and  control the anonymity of posts in order ot draw students more fully into active participation in the lecture.

Curtin Hotseat -

What benefits are there in using Hotseat?
This is what Hotseat can help you overcome.

  • Engages students in blended learning
  • Can assist in bridging cohorts face-to-face and remote
  • Generates accessible artefacts – students and lecturers can review the discussion in their own time
  • Maintains focus on the main discussion – avoids off-topic/tangential agendas (will the zealous student in the front row please put your hand down)
  • Provides metrics on usage (usage data can be used to identify “at risk” students” – tracking student understanding – etc)
  • Special equipment not required and online environments are already known (student devices can handle it – no need to manage clickers – batteries, stock-taking, etc)
  • Helps overcome social inhibitions (will the students in the back row please speak up!)
  • Anonymity can be switched off and on (provides a measure of accountability for the comments made)

The following videos highlight some of the key features of the application, some of its uses in the classroom, and of course some student responses about how it impacts on their learning experience:

Learn More in CeL Hotseat Roadshow – Thursday November 17, 2011 10.30-11.30am (213:104LT)

The Centre for eLearning is currently developing a Hotseat Roadshow where you can attend with your preferred laptop, smartphone or mobile device and work with the application in a realtime lecture environment.  Bookings available via the Seminar Bookings system. Or email the eLearning Advisory Team at the Centre for eLearning ( for more information.

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