Google’s recent introduction of live, real-time Q&A to their Slides app offers a low barrier way for students to engage with a lecture. If you’re not familiar with Google Slides, think Powerpoint on the web. It’s a platform to create and store your presentations online and lives in the Google Drive. With this update it just got interactive.
What is Google Slides Q&A?
You have always been able to present your Google Slide presentations in full-screen mode just like you can in Powerpoint. Now when you present, you can turn on “Audience Tools” that allows you to accept questions from the audience. When you enable the questions feature, a link displays at the top of your presentation with a unique URL. When they navigate to this url, audience members can ask questions, see all the questions already asked, and up or down vote questions. Audience members can ask anonymously or, if logged in to their Google account, it will show their name and profile pic.
Many instructors at UH use Turning Point or Top Hat as student response systems to engage their students during lectures. These are much more fully featured in that they allow polling, grading of questions, and more. But for those who want some basic student feedback without the hassle of having students in the course buy a clicker or software license, Google Slides may be an answer.
Some basic ideas for implementing this feature in a class would be to stop at a natural break in the lecture and just ask students to post a question to the Slides Q&A and up vote one other question that another student has posted. This would provide a metacognitive practice of retrieval for the students, but also would give the instructor a wealth of feedback on student understanding.
Also, before class begins, you could ask students to post a one sentence summary of what was covered in the previous class. This task is often more difficult for students to accomplish than they think. With Google Slides Q&A, you get the public aspect of having students respond, but you get all students responding publicly. As James Lang points out in Small Teaching, having all students write down what they remember from the last class is much more of an effective learning strategy than having one or two students comment aloud. With Slides Q&A, you get the best of both worlds, because all students are actively retrieving information, but their writing is available to all to see.
Another great thing about this feature is that it creates an avenue for less outspoken students to chime in without feeling anxious about speaking publicly, as pointed out in the promotional video above. The instructor can then easily choose a question to display on the presentation screen.
There are two things that I think would make this addition to Slides much better suited for the classroom. First, I’d like the ability to archive the Q&A for public viewing after a presentation. As it is, if you turn off “accepting questions,” guests who go to link will not see the questions asked. The questions are still saved and the owner of the Slide can view them, but they cannot be shared publicly. I’d also like the ability to respond to questions in text after the fact so that the conversation could continue.
I think the benefit of the Google Slides Q&A is that it’s the easiest way for any presenter to get in the game of audience response with technology. If you’ve been interested in using polling or clickers in your class but have seemed a bit overwhelmed by the technical aspect of it, this may be a good entry-level experiment.
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to get started with Google Slides Q&A