Progress updates from Prof. Xiaobo ZHAI of FLL:
Throughout the academic year 2017-2018, I have used Moodle, Poll-Everywhere and WeChat, in my teaching, especially WeChat. I used Moodle very rarely, because, my experience is that: (i) the format is not neat and tidy: it is not well-structured or user-friendly; and (ii) it is very time-consuming. I like Poll-Everywhere, because it can help make the class more interactive, especially it can allow you to know more about the thoughts of the students collectively, to understand the effect of your teaching. It also has its defects: (i) it can be time-consuming, students need to scan the QR code, and if it is a big class, it takes time; and (ii) you must allow the students to bring and use their smart phones in the class. They can use smart phones for answering questions, but they can also use them for other non-academic purposes throughout your whole class; (iii) the interactions made possible by poll-everywhere are not ideal, and they are passive interactions.
Now I use WeChat every day in my teaching. At the beginning of each course, I would set up WeChat group for each class, ask them to change their names into their real names. I use it to post reading materials, questions, and everything that I found useful for their learning. I also use it as forum where we can discuss their puzzles, and also some public topics. If they are shy, and do not want to discuss their questions in the group, they can add me, and then we can have private chats. It is so convenient, and you and the students can use it whenever you like. I found that my students really liked WeChat and also actively used our WeChat group for learning purpose. I will continue to use Poll-everywhere and WeChat to help my students. I will also keep learning new technologies of teaching, and explore and develop new forms of blended-learning.