Choosing an online polling tool

Image of students using polling handsets

https://flic.kr/p/9wNtHp

In-class polling or voting is great way to increase student engagement and interactivity in the classroom (for example see: Shaw et al, 2015; Boyle and Nicol 2003; Habel and Stubbs, 2014; Stratling, 2015). It is used widely in both higher and further education, and number of staff at AU make use of in-class polling on a regular basis. In addition to physical Qwizdom handsets available in loan stock, staff are more and more using online polling services such as Poll Everywhere, Socrative and Mentimeter (amongst others). These services allow students to use their own devices (such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops) to take part in polls, give feedback, and ask questions.

The E-learning Group can provide a wide range of information and support for anyone interested in using polling in their teaching. This ranges from advice on how to embed polling into your teaching practice successfully, to practical help on creating and using polls in the classroom.

At present AU doesn’t offer a centrally supported online polling tool for mobile devices. However, there are a wide range of services available, many with free or trial versions. This blog post is designed to help you assess which tool suits you and your students’ best.

  1. What do you want to do? As with all learning technology implementation, the first question you need to ask is ‘what do I want my students to do?’ The service you select will depend on the answer you have. For example, if you want your students to submit questions, or provide written feedback, look for a service that offers more than multiple choice questions.
  2. How many students will be in the class? Many of the free or limited versions of paid-for software have a limit on the number of students they can be used it. Look carefully at the details of what the free version does or doesn’t include.
  3. We also strongly recommend that you look at the Privacy Policy of the service to ensure you know what personal data is collected about you and your students (have a look at our blog post on this issue).

The E-learning Group has produced some information on some services which you may want to look at.

Once you have decided on which service you are using, here’s some of our top tips on successfully using voting in the classroom

  1. Think about your question/s. There’s lots of resources on designing good questions, particularly multiple choice questions. Don’t feel that you have to ask a question that has a correct or incorrect answer. Sometimes a question that sparks debate or shows the breadth of opinions on a subject can be useful.
  2. Using polling as a discussion starter. There are a variety of ways that you can use polling and group discussions together – two popular ways are Peer Instruction (especially the work of Eric Mazur) or Class-Wide Instruction (Dufresne, 1996)
  3. Practice. Have a practice before the session so that you are comfortable and familiar with using the questions and displaying the results. You can do this from your office using a mobile device such as a tablet or mobile phone.
  4. Make time in the lecture. If you are using polling activities in the classroom, make sure you leave enough time to give students to access on their devices, think about the answers and respond. You may also need time to correct misunderstandings or explain the answers.
  5. Let your students know in advance. Make sure that your students know to bring their devices and have them available in class. You can do this using the announcement function in Blackboard. You can also provide links to relevant FAQs such as how to connect to the AU wifi (Android: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=692, Windows: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=870, iOS: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=700 )

There are a whole range of opportunities for using polling – from collecting information on how much the students know at the start of a module, to finding out what topics you need to cover in a revision session. You can also collect opinions, gain feedback on how the lecture is going, or collect anonymous questions. If you’re using polling in your teaching get in touch and tell us more – we may even feature your work on the blog!

Polling software: Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere

The E-leaning Group is looking into how polling software can be used in lectures and seminars. Polling software is a great way to increase classroom engagement as it provides interactive presentations ranging from multiple choice questions to live word clouds. With their personal devices (such as mobiles, tablets etc.), students will be able to answer questions, vote and ask queries,which will appear on the presentation slides.  The recent Digital Insights survey, overseen by Information Services, showed that fifty-seven percent of lectures already use some sort of polling software in the classroom.

Some examples of positive comments from students include:

 “Provided quick feedback on what lecture we needed help with”

“Online poll, on parts of the subject asking the class how much they understood. This made it so people put how they actually felt as they didn’t have to speak in class”

“Polls in lecturers keep the students interested”

“It was fun last year when we did online quizzes in the lecture, interactive with each other and then went through the answers question by question on the big screen”

“Method of reviewing prescribed reading material”

The E-Learning Group has found Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere to be especially accessible and reliable:

  • Mentimeter is best used for lectures with larger audiences as it has no limit on participants. With Mentimeter you can create: quick slides, questions and quizzes. There is no limit on the number of quick slides, however with the free version you only be able to create two questions and five quizzes.
  • Poll Everywhere caps its audience at twenty-five so can best work in seminars and workshops. Poll Everywhere provides much of what Mentimeter does with the benefit of having no limit on the number of questions/activities.

There is a guide to creating presentations with both Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere available on our webpages.

AU Digital experience insights survey for teaching staff 2018-19 now open

We have recently closed the Digital Experience Insights surveys for students where we asked about their experiences of digital learning and digital services. We would also like to know how teaching staff experience these services.

There are only about 20 questions that ask about your digital teaching methods and your experience of our digital provision. Please spare ten minutes and have your say so we can improve the digital experience for our staff and students.

https://staffinsights2019.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/aberystwyth-univeristy

Digital Experience Insights 2018-19: How do you rate technology at Aberystwyth University?

For the second time Aberystwyth is taking part in the Digital Experience Insights project aiming to explore our students’ experiences of technology. The project is based on online surveys designed by Jisc and used by different institutions across UK.

It allows us to get better insights on how students use technology and benchmark our results against other HE intuitions in our sector.

We would greatly appreciate your help in promoting this survey to all students:

Equipment Available to Hire from Information Services

Information Services has equipment that’s available to hire to support learning and teaching. A full list of equipment that is available to be borrowed from Information Services is available here.  To book the equipment, contact is@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2400 with your requirements

Below are a few items that might be of particular interest.

Lego

Coventry Disruptive Media Learning Lab were our keynote speakers at last year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference. In addition to their keynote talk, they also offered attendees a couple of workshops. One of these workshops was led by Oliver Wood, a community producer at DMLL and focused on Playing with LEGO to Enhance Learning.

Their methods build on LEGO’s Serious Play methodology and adapts it for Learning and Teaching Activities. Further information on how they use LEGO can be found on their webpages.

A recording of the workshop from the conference can be found here.

The session built on last year’s mini conference, Serious Play for Learning which showcased how LEGO was being used in a variety of disciplines across the University. Information Services has 4 large boxes and 1 smaller box of LEGO available for hire

Virtual Reality Headsets and 3D Camera

There are a number of Virtual Reality Headsets and a 3D Camera available to be borrowed from Information Services. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the increased use of VR in Learning and Teaching. Dr Steve Atherton, Lecturer in the Department of Education uses VR to immerse students in different environments and experience childhood and education from different contexts. Find out more about how Steve is using Virtual Reality by watching this video.

You might also find this blogpost,

At last year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Joe Smith and Aled John from the Marketing Team gave a workshop on using a 3D Camera and also VR goggles. A recording of the workshop can be found here.

Jabra Speakers

Speakers are also able to be hired from Information Services for Skype for Business sessions. Skype for Business is available as part of the University’s Office 365 subscription. You can install and use Skype for Business from the comfort of your own office.

We’ve seen colleagues across the University use Skype for Business for webinar sessions for students who are out on placement and also to offer students revision sessions in preparation for their exams. Skype for Business might be useful for those who are working with Distance Learning students to provide virtual classroom environments. Skype for Business also has some interactive features, such as live polling, that will help enhance the online session.

A guide on how to use Skype for Business for learning and teaching activities is available on our webpages. If you are interested in using Skype for Business and would like to discuss further or need any support, contact the E-learning Group (elearning@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2472).

Jisc Digi Tracker: findings from students in UK further and higher education

Take a look at the full report of the findings from all the institutions that participated in the 2018 Digital Experience Tracker. Many of the key messages included in the report correspond to findings from Digital Tracker at Aber.

Consistency in the VLE

We have repeatedly received feedback from students asking for VLE navigation to be more intuitive and the organization of content to be more consistent across modules. Findings from the Digital Tracker at Aber and the benchmarking data from UK emphasise this issue. Students would like all the materials for their courses to be available on the VLE in a timely manner and possibly in the same location in all modules so that they can navigate easily to the content that they need.

Engage students in class using technology

Can we use technology to make lectures more engaging? Our results in the digital course activities section of the tracker were lower than the benchmarking scores. Students have also asked for their sessions to be more interactive in the open text comments:

Make lectures more interactive and able to include the students to interact more. There’s an online website where you can join to get the right answer which gets people competing and learning.’

We are happy to support any members of staff who would like to enhance their teaching with digital course activities. Contact us to discuss your ideas and possibilities or come to one of our E-learning Enhanced: What can I do with Blackboard? Sessions.

Digital skills for life

Although most students use technology on a daily basis, they are not necessarily aware what these essential digital skills are and how important digital skills are for their employability. Less than a half of AU Digital Tracker respondents don’t feel that the university prepares them for the digital workplace.

You may notice that the report is called Digital Experience Insights rather than Digital Experience Tracker. The Digital Experience Tracker 2018 was a pilot study which led to a new service now called Digital Experience Insights. We believe that the participation in this project helped us to more effectively meet digital expectations’ of our students. We hope to share examples of good practise in this area on our blog.

If you wish to share your experiences of supporting students digitally as a guest blogger, please contact us: elearning@aber.ac.uk

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Using Skype for Business for Learning and Teaching Activities

The E-learning Group have been supporting colleagues in the Education Department to use Skype for Business for a webinar for PGCE students who are currently out on placement in schools. The webinar offered support to students regarding their upcoming assignments.

Skype for Business is available to all members of the University as part of Office 365 package. In addition to creating virtual meetings, it also gives you the ability to deliver virtual classrooms from the comfort of your own office at a time that is convenient to you. It’s straight forward for students to sign in to the webinar – all they need to do is be connected to the Internet.

In addition to creating an online classroom, Skype for Business also has some additional features that might be of use. Skype for Business meetings can be recorded and then uploaded to Panopto. In addition to this, it has interactive features that can be used by participants in the actual session. These features include polling software:

Skype for Business also has an Instant Messenger service built in so webinar participants can ask questions and respond to queries throughout the session.

Plans are already afoot to look into different learning and teaching activities that Skype for Business can support, including being used for a special revision session.

If you’re interested in using Skype for Business for learning and teaching activities, including webinars, then the E-learning Group are running a training session on 18 December, 3pm-4pm in E3, E-learning Training Room. The session will cover how to set up a Skype for Business meeting, how to load a presentation, how to use the interactive features of the software and also how to record the session. You can book to attend the session online here.

If you are interested in using Skype for Business and are unable to attend the training session, drop the E-learning Group an email and we will be more than happy to arrange a consultation. Our Skype for Business Guide is available on our webpages.

 

Training and Support

This year’s E-learning Training programme is well underway. You can book onto our training sessions via the CDSAP booking pages. This year, our training is split into 3 different levels so that the training that we are offering you meets your needs.

Our first level is E-learning Essentials. These sessions are aimed at people who have not used the systems before or who would like a refresher. A key aim of these sessions is to ensure that participants are able to adhere to the University’s policies. Whilst these sessions are technical, we ensure that there is always a view as to the pedagogical rationale surrounding them. Following this, our next level is E-learning Enhanced. The idea of these sessions is to begin to explore innovative ways in which you can use the E-learning software to support your learning and teaching. Our final level is E-learning Excellence. These sessions support the development of innovative approaches to technology-enhanced learning.

There are a couple of new sessions that we would like to draw your attention to:

  • What can I do with my Blackboard course? In this session, we will be looking at the interactive tools that can be used in Blackboard to enhance learning and teaching. There’s a special version of this session on 13th December specifically looking at how Blackboard can be used for Distance Learners.
  • Introduction to Skype for Business. This session will look at Skype for Business and how you can make use of it to create a virtual classroom. We will go through setting up the Skype for Business meeting and the interactive
  • Using Panopto for Assessments. Panopto is the University’s Lecture Capture Software. In addition to recording lectures, Panopto can also be used for assessments. This session will look at how you might use Panopto for student assessments.
  • Teaching with Mobile Devices. We will look at how you might use mobile devices in your teaching. As well as using mobile devices to teach, we will also look at ways in which you can use polling software to increase interactivity in your teaching sessions.

We’ll also be running sessions on the Component Marks Transfer tool that allows marks to automatically feed through from Blackboard into AStRA which may be of use to those who manage this process.

Our sessions are participatory and interactive. If you would prefer a one-on-one version of our sessions, or if you have any specific requirements, then please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Access to E3 Aber Academy has also changed. In order to access the E-learning Training Room, enter the Hugh Owen Building via the Language Labs on Level B. Proceed up the stairs until you reach Level E. You will need your Aber Card to swipe to let you in. E3, the E-learning Training Room, is just down the corridor on the right hand side.

6th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

This year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference saw a range of students, academic and support staff come together from across the University to showcase their innovative practice. This year’s conference theme, Stepping up Students Learning, aimed to showcase and celebrate the areas of best practice in teaching and learning happening at Aberystwyth. Hot off the heels from recent accolades for the University, including being named University of the Year for Teaching Quality and also achieving TEF Gold, there has been much innovative practice to celebrate and share. One of the strengths of the conference is providing a space in which colleagues can come together and discuss their learning and teaching.

This year’s keynote was given by Professor Jonathan Shaw from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab. Jonathan discussed how the lab focuses on mainstream and alternative approaches to using technology to foster amore hybrid and open approach to teaching and learning.

In addition to the keynote, two of Jonathan’s colleagues, Oliver Wood and Thamu Dube, offered workshops to conference participants. Oliver’s workshop focused on LEGO as a teaching tool – participants were tasked with using the LEGO to discuss ideas. Colleagues were equipped with strategies as to how they could use LEGO in the classroom as part of a learning activity. The LEGO is now available in loan stock. If you wish to make a booking for the LEGO, email is@aber.ac.uk with your requirements.

The most beneficial part of the conference was listening to and hearing about the innovative approaches to learning and teaching that are happening across the University. It’s difficult to pick out particular high points, but some of the messages that we will taking away from the conference include:

  • Using technology to enhance feedback
  • The Video Essay as a method of assessment – you can view that here
  • Students as Partners in learning design
  • What not to learn from bad gym coaches

Recordings from the conference will be available on our webpages so if you missed a session, or you’d like to hear more about a particular topic, click here.

We will begin organising next year’s annual learning and teaching conference shortly. If you’d like to propose an idea or suggest a keynote, then get in touch with us (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

Jisc Digi Tracker: benefits and what to do with findings?

Read Jisc Digi Tracker and Jisc Digi Tracker: Key findings

What benefits came out from the project?

  • Clear directions for improvements.
  • The benchmarking data helped us to reflect on AU strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other institutions.
  • As a valued participant in the pilot Student Tracker we were the only Welsh university invited to take part in the pilot Staff Tracker and we’ve worked closely with JISC and the Aberystwyth University Translation Unit to provide a Welsh language version of the survey.
  • Aberystwyth was asked to be part of a series of 10 Institutional vignettes on how the digital experience tracker has supported our practice. The vignettes will be published by Jisc in September.
  • In March, we were chosen to give a presentation at the national conference, Digifest 2018.

What next:

  • Full sets of benchmarking data will be available in mid-September
  • Taking the findings to TELG
  • Consulting SU on communicating the findings to students
  • Provide training sessions that address the areas for development
  • Presenting the findings on this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference

We would like to hear your thoughts on this project and seek advice on how to best take the findings forward and communicate them to students.

Please leave a comment or contact elearning@aber.ac.uk

Next post from the series on DigiTracker:

Experience of using the tracker – Aberystwyth Univeristy vignette prepared by Jisc