Start having better classroom discussions

At root, moderating a discussion involves distributing a scarce resource - the total time available for speaking to the group. But even trained moderators usually can't access the information needed to promote really great discussions: Who most strongly desires to speak at a given moment? What does she plan to say? How valuable would her contribution be now, relative to the contributions that other participants would make instead?

Palaver is a simple, evidence-based web app that makes it easier to moderate in-person, group discussions. The app keeps track of how much each participant has contributed, what kind of contribution they wish to make, and how strongly they wish to make it. We then suggest an optimized order for the discussion queue, which moderators are free to rely on or override. (No more struggling to remember the order in which students raise their hands!)

It becomes easier for students from diverse backgrounds to contribute when students don't have to break into the discussion by dangling their hands above their heads. And when moderators don't have to worry about whom to call on next, they are freed from the bias-prone and cognitively demanding chore of managing an evolving queue of speakers. This frees moderators to attend carefully to the students and to more effectively guide the discussion.

Since Palaver is web-based, you don't need to buy any expensive equipment to start having better group discussions - just about any smartphone, tablet, or laptop will do. If you're in a tech-equipped classroom, Palaver can also project a real-time visualization of the developing discussion, so everyone can easily keep track of their own contributions relative to their classmates'.

Palaver displays easy-to-understand analytics about your discussions and your contributions to them. We are optimizing Palaver's queuing algorithm using the results of rigorous lab studies and anonymous data shared by users like you. During beta testing, Palaver is exclusively available for use within Princeton University.

To find out more, head over to the Science page.

Last modified: 030218 by Simon