Do Students Understand the Material? A New App Helps Teachers Know For Sure

Posted by Liz Dwyer

One of the biggest challenges for classroom teachers is developing ways of ensuring students understand the material, especially the ones who feel self-conscious about asking questions or participating in class discussions. A new mobile app, GoSoapBox, hopes to become the go-to tool to help educators break down barriers and determine whether students are grasping what's going on in class.

Using apps this way isn't new—some teachers are already using Twitter to engage shy students in classroom discussions. What sets GoSoapBox apart is that students aren't required to create an account, allowing them to remain anonymous. Students can use the service from a smartphone, tablet device, or laptop by typing in a code. They can ask questions, vote up questions posed by their classmates, participate in discussions, or tell the teacher they're confused—all without revealing their identities.

Like for other new technologies, the principal hurdle to GoSoapBox's success is students' access to technology: It's still relatively rare for schools to have one-to-one laptop or tablet programs, and many campuses don't allow students to use smartphones. With the rise of apps that can have measurable impacts on improving student comprehension, it's time for that to change.