T Delfín is an anthropologist and filmmaker. Originally from Mexico with research and long-term documentary focus on Mexico’s west coast, she teaches at California State Polytechnic University better known as Cal Poly Pomona University.
Cal Poly Pomona University is a polytechnic university based in Pomona, California founded in 1938. It is nationally ranked for helping students achieve economic success. The Universities Latin motto Instrumentum Disciplinae, means “Application of Knowledge,” which reflects the university’s “learn-by-doing” approach to academics.
What sets Cal Poly Pomona apart from other universities is a commitment to facilitating an educational environment where students “learn by doing.” There is a heavy focus on a student's ability to actively participate in work outside of the classroom, whether it be work experience or internships.
T Delfín teaches courses in cultural anthropology, and found that to increase learning and keep students engaged she needed to find a way to increase participation in the classroom. “I discovered Mentimeter after searching extensively for a platform that would allow me to enhance participation in the classroom in a way that syncs as seamlessly as possible with my natural teaching style and with my students’ learning styles.” In this tech heavy era, teachers face the challenge of trying to engage students in innovative ways, staying up-to-date with the technology whilst making sure students focus. The fine line between technology disrupting a class and it being a key tool that stimulates the learning environment is a challenge that teachers must navigate.
“Participation is required in my classes, but I know that for some students, verbal participation is agonizingly uncomfortable. It’s great for students to be able to engage productively, yet with discretion.”
Further, Mentimeter gives quieter students a platform to voice their opinions and be heard. The fear of saying the wrong answer or everybody laughing at you is massively reduced when using an anonymous interactive presentation software. Quieter students can struggle with asking questions and instead leave a lecture feeling deflated, confused and unsure about a certain topic. Mentimeter allows everyone to ask questions, to get clarification or a clearer understanding on subjects resulting in a more fulfilling learning experience.
“The questions that pour in on the platform are often much more nuanced and deeper than questions asked out loud since students feel no vulnerability in posting.”
“Something I always tell my students is that it’s easier to come up with a good answer than a good question. Likewise, it is often easier to talk than to listen.” Mentimeter encourages the audience to listen to others' opinions and questions. In an era where everyone is shouting what they think, one way dialogues have become the norm and we tune out a lot of the ‘noise’. Yes, people argue that they are listening, but in fact most of the time they just hear. The conscious decision of actively listening and participating in a dialogue is where lies room for improvement.
“Because my use of Mentimeter centers around student questions, it helps build an environment that fosters deep listening, as that is what both inspires and resolves their questions.”
Teaching has come a long way since students were forced to copy off a blackboard or basic presentations, as T Delfín explains; “Years ago I abandoned presentation platforms that are strictly linear. It makes no sense to me to have adapted analogue technologies like slides for use digitally.” Mentimeter enables a conversation to be started, for students and the audience to contribute to the dialogue and get the most out of presentations.
“Mentimeter is structured much more the way our minds work and parallel the best aspects of social media, fostering engagement, connection, immediateness, and the ability of an audience to engage with the presenter. You simply don’t get this from conventional slides.”
“Technology is equally capable of making people (and classrooms) feel alienated or connected. The trick is harnessing technology to work in ways that align with our goals.” Mentimeter’s structure is simple where anyone can join the presentation by entering a code. Equally, the audience join via smartphone, something that most people have nowadays.
Technology has provided endless opportunities to stimulate and enhance students’ learning environment and improve their education. Moreover, students are much more likely to pay attention and participate if they are part of the discussion and the learning process. Teachers must take advantage of the software they have available to inspire students to learn.
“Mentimeter is my favorite classroom technology because it works to create connections and to empower everyone to share.” One way presentations are a thing of the past, working collaboratively to create value, thrive, listen and be heard is the power of Mentimeter.