ETH Lecture Communicator is a tool to improve the interaction in the classroom between instructor and students. The system is based on a network infrastructure (e.g., a Wireless LAN) and portable computers brought to class.

The tool enables the instructor to create and carry out in-class online-assessments and facilitates organized instant communication for big classes.

Online-assessments can be constructed from questions of various types (e.g., multiple choice quizzes, item rating, item matching, lickert-scale, free text). The student answers are processed automatically whenever possible and a result summary is made available to the instructor.

Students can ask content-related questions. Fellow students have then the possibility rate such questions (i.e., to indicate if they are also interested in the question or not). The instructor sees the student questions in order of priority and can first answer those that interest a high number of students.

The tool is intended to improve the overall quality of a lecture by providing continuous feedback to the instructor about the students' understanding of the material. It also motivates the students for more interactivity and thus fosters active learning.

ETH Lecture Communicator is being developed at the Laboratory for Software Technology of ETH Zurich, Switzerland. The project is funded by the FILEP fund of ETH Zurich, which financially supports innovative teaching-oriented projects.

Help and feedback for the project are welcome! Please contact the author if you would like to contribute.


2006-09-21 - Release of ETH Lecture Communicator 1.0

ETH Lecture Communicator has gone final! Version 1.0 was released today after the remaining known bugs were fixed. It is available in the download section.

We are already working on version 2.0 which will include PowerPoint integration, better support for students without a computer, and PDA support. If you are using ETH Lecture Communicator and are interested in these features let us know. Feedback is highly welcome and encourages us to work even harder and commit more time to the project.

2006-07-04 - External reviews and comments

Read what others have to say about ETH Lecture Communicator:

2006-06-14 - Release of 1.0rc1 (first release cadidate)

The first release candidate for version 1.0 is now available in the . It contains a fix for a bug that led to an empty and non-functional Use tab if a Synth-based Java look and feel was used (thanks to Brian Gray).

Version 1.0rc1 now seems to run at least as stable as release 0.7.3, which was removed from the download section. All old releases are of course available from the SourceForge project page).

Please report any bugs that you might encounter, so they can be fixed before the final 1.0 release.

2006-01-24 - Release of 1.0b1 (Beta 1)

We are proud to announce the release of version 1.0b1 of ETH Lecture Communicator. The user interface is now available in multiple languages: German, French, Italian (partly completed), Russian, Chinese, and Romanian. Many thanks to all translators for their hard work: Susanne Cech (Italian), Val Naumov (Russian), Yang Su (Chinese), and Christian Tuduce (Romanian). Additionally, the rating of student questions can now be disabled. Thanks to Herb Schilling at NASA Glenn Research Center for suggesting this feature. As usual many bugs and nuisances have been fixed.

2005-01-13 - Bugfix release 0.7.3

Version 0.7.3 is a bugfix-only release which remedies a problem that prevented backing-up sessions with shortanswer questions under Windows.

2004-11-04 - Presentation at the NET-ELC conference in Zurich

A talk about ETH Lecture Communicator will be given tomorrow (2004-11-05) at the 9th NET-ELC conference [website in german] at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. There will also be a demo/exhibition section where we demonstrate the tool.

Presentation slides and project poster are available in the Information material section.

2004-11-05 - Version 0.7.2 released.

Version 0.7.2 was released today after four month without any update.

Besides fixes of some known bugs this version uses the newest release of JFreeChart to obtain even nicer result charts. Many thanks to the JFree team for their excellent work!

2004-06-24 - Version 0.7 released.

Version 0.7 was released this afternoon.

The major new feature in this release is a presentation view for sent questions and their results, which lets you choose the magnification. This view is especially helpful for projection. Alongside, some minor bugs have been fixed.

This will probably be the last version before 1.0, which will released once the software has been thoroughly tested and all known bugs have been fixed.

We are still looking for a better and shorter name for the tool to get rid of the tongue-twisting ETH Lecture Communicator. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any creative ideas.

2004-06-11 - Release of Version 0.6.2

Version 0.6.2 includes a bunch of new and noteworthy improvements:

  • New question type True/False (by Vicky Skordaly)
  • All data tables support sorting (single-column and multi-column)
  • Automatic re-sending of sent questions to newly connecting clients (optional)
  • Includes an add-in for PowerPoint that shows the number of student questions during presentations (included in the Windows installer distribution only).
  • User's Guide PDF is now really included (promised).

2004-06-11 - Poster presentation and demo at MICS Workshop

The classroom interactivity enhancer (aka ETH Lecture Communicator) will be presented at the poster exhibition of the MICS Annual Workshop 2004 (Mobile Information and Communication Systems). The workshop takes place on July 6 in Zurich, Switzerland. We are also planning on showing a demo of the system. Update (2004-06-24): Unfortunately, there won't be a demo at the workshop. Please speak to the contact at the poster if you would like to see a personal demonstration.

2004-05-21 - Version 0.6.1 released

Version 0.6.1 is available for download.

It is mainly a bug-fix release, resolving problems that have been observed during in-class tests. Two important changes are:

  • The client applet is now signed and can be deployed on a fix server (no more web server needed on the computer that is used during class).
  • The new user's guide PDF is included in all binary distribution files. Update (2004-06-11): The user's guide got lost on its way into the distribution files. Sorry for the inconvenience.

2004-05-19 - Information material online

The new section Information material contains introductory material and additional documentation. Among other documents you can find the poster presented at the Intel Academic Forum 2004 and some slides.

Screen-shots of server and client component are now available under Screen-shots.

2004-05-19 - New user's guide

An extensive user's guide is now available either online or as a PDF. It contains a tutorial-style example section demonstrating the most important aspects of the tool. The user's guide will be included in all future binary releases.

2004-04-16 - Release of version 0.6

The new release 0.6 of ETH Lecture Communicator is available.

This release includes the following brand-new features:

  • Automatic and manual session backup and recovery (for questions sent to clients and for student questions) to prevent data loss.
  • PDF-export of sent questions along with collected results and student questions.

2004-04-14 - Poster session at the Intel Academic Forum in Spain

The in-class communication tool will be presented during a poster session at the Intel Academic Forum in Spain. I will soon make available a PDF of the poster along with some introductory slides. Update (2004-05-19): The information material is now online.

2004-03-18 - Version 0.5 released

Version 0.5 of ETH Lecture Communicator was released today.

New features and improvements in this release include:

  • New question type "Matching": match items on the right to those on the left
  • New question type "Short Answer" enabling textual answers of configurable maximum length
  • Questions are now saved in a compressed file format
  • Known visual defects on different platforms have been fixed

Note: This release uses a new file format to store questions on disk. Earlier data files (from version 0.3 to 0.4.2) can easily be converted to the new format by renaming the file to "__qstdata.xml" (note the 2 underscore characters at the beginning) and storing this file in a ZIP archive with filename suffix ".iez" (instead of ".zip").

2004-03-09 - Version 0.4.2 released

ETH Lecture Communicator version 0.4.2 was made available.

Changes for this release include:

  • Improved dialog for managing student questions (for server and client)
  • Optional pop-up dialog indicating the number of student questions
  • Smaller JAR for the client applet (84KB)
  • And, of course, fixes of known bugs.

2004-02-06 - Release of version 0.4

ETH Lecture Communicator 0.4 has been released.

The major changes in this release are:

  • A new question type to rate multiple items related to one topic
  • Improved result-display using JFreeChart
  • Multiple connections from the same IP address can now be allowed
  • A number of major bug fixes

2004-01-16 - First software release

ETH Lecture Communicator 0.3 was released.

2004-01-09 - Website online.

The web site is now online. A first release of the software should be available for download within a few days.