Faculty Experiences - Jeffrey Lewis

Jeff Lewis - photo SMSGameServerJEFFREY LEWIS

Political Science

Interview Topics

What matters most to you in your teaching?

How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?

How have your students responded to your use of technology?

What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?

How could the University better facilitate the use of technology in instruction?


Get Student Input

Bring an Experience to the Classroom

Student Participation

Work with data in real time






  • SMSGameServer

Engaging Students through Game Theory

I want my students be more engaged in classes by using a hands-on method to learn game theory.

I'm always looking for innovative ways for undergraduate students to solve problems. I want them be more engaged in classes with a hands-on method. For getting my undergraduate students more involved with learning, I wanted to use Short Message Service (SMS) available in cell phones because they have a higher "cool factor" than using web forms. It's also more hands-on without cutting into instructional time. When I demonstrate game theory in class using my SMSGameServer software, it saves precious class time because instead of matching students up in groups, I can ask them directly to input their choices. I've been using this internet-based approach for several years and have gotten positive feedback from students who appreciated having a visual to bring home the game theory concepts.

I don't want to lose credibility with students or bore them with flat, lifeless examples. That is why I have yet to incorporate some elements in my class such as instant surveys or other applications with a whiz bang appeal that take more time to produce. I want to have a somewhat intimate atmosphere during a lecture, because I like getting feedback and the ability to discuss with the audience. I provide lecture slides in PDFs for my students, but avoid podcasts and web streaming because they are too distanced. I would like to provide a wiki to my undergrads. My graduate students work on it to provide an archival perspective to find code that they've written.

My web application is written in python and is objected oriented. Each game is a class, which makes it easier to extend using the programming language. During each run, students can input their choices and immediately see the results computed . Because this system is efficient, it can lead to more nuanced questions for class discussion. I haven’t done any observational research to see if there are improvements in student learning, but they do enjoy participating in this hands on approach.

I do want to work on my web application some more. The user interface design needs to be improved. In the future I’d also like to see more automation in creating games by using self-creating classes and also a dedicated phone line to receive SMS messages. I find SSC and the campus overall satisfactory to work with. I don’t use anything too complicated besides PowerPoint slides and this SMSGameServer.

Oral Interview, February 2007