Putting up your hand in the middle of a university lecture when you don't understand something can be pretty intimidating, even if you think everyone is just as confused as you are.
A Toronto man has come up with a way to address this problem and it's turning out to be a big hit with a University of Toronto computer science professor and his students.
Understoodit.com is a website that can be accessed via iPhone, tablet or laptop. Students in large university classrooms can tell the professor when they don't understand a concept by pressing the "confused" button. The response registers on the professor's laptop, and they can address whatever issues the students are having with the concepts. Once the students get that clarification they need, they hit the "understand" button and the professor can move forward with the lesson. This video demonstrates how it works:
Liam Kaufman, inventor of the website, told The Toronto Star that the program is especially helpful for ESL students, but everyone can benefit from the straightforward concept.
"It's anonymous, so it lets students communicate whether they're getting the lecture or not, because once a class has 60 or 70 students, hardly anyone raises their hand," Kaufman said in The Star.
Paul Gries, the U of T computer science professor, has tested the tool with his students and has found it to be helpful in his classroom. Many professors at other institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Penn State, Duke University and University of British Columbia, have expressed interest in the idea as well and are eager to test it out for themselves.
Currently, the website is still in its beta testing phase, but will be available to everyone in August 2012, just in time for the new school year.