Learner-Centered Collaborative Notetaking to Increase Participation: Implementation of a Digital “Chaos Dump”

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Using constructivist pedagogy and a design based learning, a digital “chaos dump” was implemented in an undergraduate course as a way to measure student participation and engagement. The student-led tool promoted collaboration, multimodality, and effective technology integration in the classroom and extended asynchronous learning for both students and instructor.


Zoe Falls is a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She focuses on integrating meaningful technology into classrooms, and how to adequately train future teachers to navigate technologies easily. Before beginning her studies at UNL, Zoe studied curriculum design with a focus on technology integration. For 10 years, Zoe has worked in informal learning environments focusing on creating meaningful learning experiences for students through effective technology integration, and hands-on, student-centered learning. Her current research interests include the use of technology in informal learning environments, and ways technology can help create low stakes moments in classrooms to enhance learning.

Extended Abstract

Rooted in constructivist theories with a focus on learner-constructed knowledge and active participation, a digital “chaos dump” (CD) was implemented as a way for an instructor to increase in-class participation and engagement. Whole class note taking was based upon the ideas outlined in Design Based Learning. Effective collaboration and meaningful technology implementations for students are challenging. The use of online collaborative tools is increasing in classrooms, and finding free tools that are also effective is paramount. Students use a Google Docs to develop and build their own knowledge and understanding of class content both in class and out of class. The live, instantaneous updating of the CD allowed students to see their comments, updates, and inputs live in class. Students unable to attend class were able to check into the document during class and keep up to date live, or refer to it after to discover what they missed. Students were also encouraged to refer back to previous CDs and add to them, as needed.

The implementation of a CD allowed students to participate both in-seat and online. The CD became a centralized place where students interacted with each other and with the instructor live in class, before class began, and even after class ended. As students continued to use the CD, began to replace discussion boards, and allowed a streamlined way to submit in-class assignments, such as presentations, and reading responses that would have been done in two separate places without the use of the CD. While all students were encouraged to contribute to the CD, student groups were assigned a week in which they were primarily responsible for recording the course activities. This allowed students to take ownership of the space and decide on their own how best to document their learning. The digital medium also encouraged students to use multimodal techniques including images, links, memes, and gifs to describe their experiences, their understanding of the material, and raise their own questions. Through exposure to the ways in which other student groups used the CD, later groups were able to develop new, improved ways of contributing to the CD.

The use of the CD encouraged future teachers to become digital citizens, and to embrace the effective, positive, and impactful uses of technology in the classroom. They were exposed to a modeling practice wherein the instructor modeled the use of the CD, scaffolding, their learning so that they could assume control of and responsibility for maintaining the CD. In addition to the instructor modeling, students were encouraged to learn, modify, and apply the ideas and format used by previous student groups for their own CDs. The student-led content cultivation created a learner centered note taking and content repository. While the instructor did not grade or rigorously structure the CDs, student practices within the CDs were used to modify the format, and delivery of in-class lessons and assignments. Based on the initial implementation, student ownership is vital to the successful implementation of a CD.