How to use education technology with the Socratic method

There is a large focus in education to try out the hottest teaching trends, best education technology, and basically do whatever others are doing. Your colleague down the hall is doing project-based learning? Why not you! Your parents say you should flip your classroom? Terrific!

But sometimes you need to go back to one of the most classic methods of teaching rather than endlessly try to keep up with the ever-changing world of edtech.

How to use education technology with the Socratic method

Perhaps it’s time to re-familiarize yourself with the Socratic method. This is not the sexiest method of teaching out there today but you can actually use it with iPads and other technology … so it’s not a total loss.

See Also: How Students Really Feel About EdTech

So let’s get started figuring out how to properly integrate edtech with the Socratic method. The first step is to review what it actually is. Here’s a handy definition:

The Socratic method is a method of hypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions. The Socratic method searches for general, commonly held truths that shape opinion, and scrutinizes them to determine their consistency with other beliefs. The basic form is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic, seeking to characterize the general characteristics shared by various particular instances. –Wikipedia

Now let’s get the less text-heavy version in the form of this handy visual:

the socratic method

Awesome. Now Let’s Talk Technology

So now that you have an expert level understanding of the Socratic method, let’s look at a few interesting apps that might be useful in classrooms looking to integrate edtech with the method. We can do better than the tools from the time of Socrates, after all. It’s the age of the iPad!

The key to finding good apps and web tools that will integrate with the question-and-response methodology is in their interactivity. This means each app should be easy to use, easy to understand, and let you easily perform a desired function. Did you notice how many times the word ‘easy’ just appeared? Seriously. The app needs to be easy.

The app should also have a functionality that lets you ask questions and manage discussions in and out of classrooms. After all, you can use the Socratic method in online learning as well. Just look at some of the higher-quality MOOCs that work to pull responses out of distance learners who might not be as engaged as their in-classroom peers.

Socrative – The name says it all

This is the ultimate question-and-response tool for anyone looking to get a start with the Socratic method. It’s even in the name! Socrative has grown a lot and was recently acquired by Mastery Connect so look for more functionality and features soon. In any case, use Socrative to encourage more interaction and answers from an otherwise disengaged class.

Nearpod – Manage student smartphones from your own with ease

Nearpod is a great classroom management tool that you can use, in part, to perform a decent level of Socratic method discussion. Use it to pose questions, create multimedia lessons that integrate call and response, and more.

ClassDojo – Reward and manage students the way Socrates would want

The ClassDojo app is a classroom management app that lets you easily reward and track student achievement. This means you can reward (or not) students for excelling in the Socratic dialog you’re having. Plus it’s just super fun and easy to use.

Weigh In.

Do you use the Socratic method in your classroom or in your online course? How would you integrate technology into this complex but effective method of discussion? Share your insight with the Daily Genius family by adding your thoughts below!

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1 Comment
  • Josh Tappan Apr 5,2015 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for the Nearpod shoutout and for explaining how it fits into the socratic method. One Nearpod feature that I’ve find very helpful for facilitating discussions is sharing student responses. On any open ended question, draw-it, poll, etc, you can anonymously share student responses and start a student-centered discussion. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback.

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