Friday, 12 September 2014

TELFest - Final day!

This was the last day of our week long TELfest extravaganza, but there was still plenty of great sessions taking place to ensure we finished things off with a bang!

We  kicked things off with Zafer Ali and David Read from the ELTC, giving us some valuable insight into using web conferencing technologies; Adobe Connect and Google Hangouts.

Adobe Connect was featured first, ably led by David Read. David explained the many features of Adobe Connect including the chat window, screensharing, use of quizzes and polls and use of virtual break out rooms.

As Adobe Connect is not available University wide yet, Zaf then showed us how Google hangouts could be used as viable free alternative. This walkthrough included screen sharing, remote access to another users screen and sharing documents.

Next up we had Farzana Latif and Zafer (who surely wins the most sessions presented award!) demonstrating how you can incorporate mobile learning into your teaching and student learning. 

This session covered a variety of mobile apps including: Aurasma, Autonomy 4D as well as Blackboard Mobile Learn (MOLE).

This session showed us how we can ably engage students in sessions using these apps. The main mantra of this session was, "give it a go"!. See how these apps can fit in with what you want to acheive. 

The lunch time panel sessions have proved very popular throughout the week and this one was no exception. This time we were treated to a showcase of innovative practice using learning technologies.

Marie Mawson, who is the Faculty of Social Sciences Library Liaison, gave us her tips on  utilising library resources that are valuable to learning and teaching. This included utilising Star Plus, the online reading list, promoting digital collections and embedding tutorials and quizzes into your modules. 

  Nicki Newman gave us a great walkthrough of the Turnitin iPad App for marking and feedback. Features included the ability to mark offline, as well as it being a  more convenient/portable device to mark on. Nicki mentioned that she had saved time using the iPad App, and that by and large students really liked it. 

Gary Wood gave us some valuable insight into his work in USE -  University of Sheffield Enterprise. This included a student project case study based on the theme of syntax. This project involved students creating an online course that could be accessed through iTunes U. A main focus for the project was to help students gain and build key enterprise skills including: self belief, ambition, innovation and confidence.

Neil Everill took us through the content of a module focusing on new media skills that is now core in BMS (Biomedical Science). This modules focus was on students developing new skills in media as well as being aware of their digital footprint. The module was split into  areas including, video production, social media and google sites .

Finally, the last session of the day was led by Chris Clow and Tommy Wilson and focused on being creative in developing multimedia resources for learning and teaching.

Attendees were given some great tips and things to avoid in video production (including planning, storyboarding and recording on smart devices) before embarking on a  practical activity... ensuring that attendees could put those tips to immediate use! 

Attendees were asked to create their own 30 second video and then view it back on their PCs.

Whilst all this was going on the drop in sessions were also open once again for anyone looking for a bit of learning technology advice/help from the team.

So that, as they say, is the end of the show folks.  The Learning Technologies Team would like  to say a big thank you to everyone involved who helped make this week the success it was. From presenters, to attendees, to caterers and fellow CiCs colleagues who helped us out when we needed it.

We hope all of those who were able to attend enjoyed it, we certainly had a blast. 

In fact, it was so good, we wouldn’t mind at all running it again next year, what do you think?

Goodbye from TELFest 2014!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

TELFest - Day Four

We're in our fourth day and still going strong!

Thursday at TELFest began with an introductory practical session led by Zaf Ali on MOLE Assignment, allowing a hands-on look at electronic submission via the University's VLE. This was followed by Ros Walker leading a session on the suite of software available by Echo. This included the Echo360 lecture capture system, MyEcho personal capture, and a demonstration of Lecture Tools, an system for interactive lectures currently being trialed by the University.

Today's panel discussion was on Assessment and Feedback. It was chaired by Duco vo Oostrom, of the School of English, and featured System Engineering's Anthony Rossiter, Ollie Johnson of Academic & Learning Service's Flexible and Formative Feedback Project, and Nicki Newman and Andrea Ward of the Management School.

The panel began by discussing what they regard as good assessment, with answers including being clearly aligned with learning outcomes, clear links with lectures and tutorials, consistency, and good communication of what assessment entails. However it was identified that these are ideals that cannot always be afforded with practical considerations such as modularisation and large class sizes. Technology was discussed as a way to solve such as these problems, such as time-saving caused by discussion groups over emails, and electronic marking being an agency for consistency among different markers.

On feedback, it was seen that students do not take full responsibility for their own part. Anthony Rossiter led with comments that all emphasis was with staff, and feedback doesn't even become feedback until something's done with it by the student. Ollie Johnson agreed in th sense that the National Student Survey, which had led to much pressure to improve feedback, saw feedback as too much of a product, but there should be further support to help students engage with it. A general theme on the panel was challenges of student engagement with feedback, and being interested mainly with marks, with Andrea Ward giving an example of statistics that show relatively few students actually read feedback at all. This led to a suggestion of introducing a system where marks were only released to students once feedback has been read, although it was noted this may inconvenience and annoy students finding the information they need if not implemented correctly. Also it's academics' responsibility to elevate feedback above mere justification for grades, and points about engaging with feedback being a developmental need for entering work were raised.

This was a lively and interesting discussion on a topic close to all academics' hearts, with some great interaction from the audience.

Finally, Thursday ended with another practical session, this time Grazyna Whalley and Zaf Ali led a beginner's session on using Google Apps for Productivity, Learning and Teaching.

The week's flown, and it all ends tomorrow! Friday's sessions include talks on web conferencing, mobile learning, innovative practice and multimedia. Hopefully we'll see some of you down there.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

TELFest - Day Three

Today was day three of TELFest, and with over 200 session attendees in the first two days, we were ready for another day of engaging talks and workshops.

First off today was a hands on Workshop from Zafer Ali (CiCS) and Ian Palmer (Faculty of Medicine) on Making reflection Easy Using Pebblepad, covering what PebblePad is and how it is currently used. Attendees had the opportunity to build their own unique reflection template which they could share with others, discovered how students could use the system and investigated what happened when a student submitted something. Quite a few people left the session feeling so inspired that they have already arranged to spend more time with us to develop their ideas for using Pebblepad.

Next an iTunes U update from Graham McElearney (CiCS), who talked about where the University ITunesU development has progressed and what it holds for the future, and led discussion on how we can make the best use of the service.

The lunchtime session was an Introduction to Flipped Learning. It started with Sam Marsh (Maths and Statistics) talking about how they had restructured a Engineering Maths module into a blended learning one. Using a weekly structure, they made available a video at the beginning of the week for the students to watch and then engage in an online test in preparation for the face to face class at the end of the week. Supported by online notes and additional exercises, this changed the focus of the classes to become a time to review the work done that week and then move into a much more productive session of problem solving. This has lead to an increase in class attendance and engagement from the students.
Following Sam was Anthony Rossiter (Automatic Control and Systems Engineering) who took the session through what flipped learning was, and how it can put the students in control, and demonstrated how he had created a range of resources without using any special tools.
For both presenters, there was lengthy quality discussion about the topic.

The day ended with Rene Meijer and Chris Clow (both from CiCS) talking about Engaging Students in Teaching Spaces which explained how staff can make the most of teaching spaces, including using clickers for interactive feedback and how the symposium system can be used to create a flipped learning environment. Once again the session had a very good discussion around this topic and finished off another great day.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

TELFest - Day Two

It was day two of TELFest today, continuing the talks and workshops helping university staff explore the use of technologies in learning and teaching.

James Goldingay once again started proceedings, giving a practical introductory session on Turnitin. This gave staff the opportunity to see behind the scenes of electronic submission and marking, and see some of the features available to academics. Further training is available, including forthcoming sessions on the Turnitin iPad app, so do get in touch with the team if you have any questions or requirements.

Next up was Marie Kinsie, the academic lead on the University's MOOC project, giving a talk entitled 'Learning & Teaching in MOOCland'. Marie started by explaining what MOOCs are, and discussed the differences between MOOCs and conventional learning. The emphasis was on learners being in the driving seat of the course, and the opportunities for community-building. Marie saw the role of MOOCs to use a narrative to tell stories; to take learners on an adventure.

Questions of why the University is creating MOOCs were discussed. It’s the University’s job to innovate and try new things, and to find new learners and new markets. As well as this, these online courses are creating engaging content to enhance the experience of existing students, and not just new, online learners.

Marie showed the FutureLearn platform, which hosts the University’s MOOCs, and trailers for the forthcoming MOOCs the University are launching soon. This includes an intriguing module on Exploring Play, and a series of three-week “mini-MOOCs” developed with the Careers Service. As well as this, there are others in the pipeline on songwriting, robotics and criminology. The talk showed the breadth of topics that can be covered by the MOOC platform, and the fascinating way this new way of providing educational content is engaging learners around the world.

This was followed by a session on using Twitter in learning and teaching, chaired by Rene Meijer, with short talks by Dena Shah, Gary Wood (USE) and Ruth Stirton (Law).

Dena began, talking about how academics are increasingly using Twitter to meet complex challenges of communication, networking and knowledge dissemination. As well as this, academics are increasingly using Twitter to improve communication with students, and Dina demonstrated that the principles of good practice of student engagement.

These themes were continued in Gary’s talk, in which he ably demonstrated his impressive use of Twitter in the classroom, during his work at the Department of English. Gary used hashtags extensively during sessions, and as the main form of communication outside lessons. His conclusions were that this led to a great rapport with students, who perceived Gary was more available and accessible due to his interaction on Twitter, but in reality he was saving time by replying to fewer emails, as he could give quicker answer to questions, repeating himself less, and queries were answered by students were replying to one another.

These points were reiterated by work Ruth undertook in the Law School, where a two hour revision Q&A session held on Twitter saw her successfully fielding questions from a large number of students. She was surprised by the level of complex discussion held under the 140 character limit, and student feedback was excellent.

The theme from all three speakers was that when facilitated correctly, students really engage with Twitter in this way, and bringing academic discussion to online spaces the students already use, rather than using systems new to them, works well.

After lunch Farzana Latif led a lively workshop on social media, discussing the learning and teaching benefits of Twitter, blogging and Flickr. The day ended with a practical session by Trish Murray on peer review within MOLE via WebPA.

Another packed day at TELFest, with much more to come. Wednesday’s session sees sessions on PebblePad, iTunesU, flipped learning and engaging students in teaching spaces. See you there!

Monday, 8 September 2014

TELFest Day One

Today saw the launch of the CiCS Learning Technologies Team’s TELFest (Technology Enhanced Learning Festival). The week will see a wide range of talks, discussions and workshops on a range of learning technologies, designed to help staff at the University make the most of technology to add value to their teaching and learning.

The festival was kicked off by James Goldingay, giving a hands-on overview of the University’s VLE, MOLE. This was a great opportunity to introduce MOLE to staff members who may not have had previous experience of the system, giving colleagues a chance to use it and find out what it can do.

This was followed by a session led by Danny Monaghan, entitled ‘MOLE - Looking Ahead’. This saw the team joined by John Usher from Blackboard, to give update on recent development, and future plans.

Danny gave an update on MOLE's recent move to managed hosting on Blackboard's servers in Amsterdam, which has improved stability and speed of the service, and looked ahead to future plans, including software updates which will hopefully be implemented at the end of the year. As well as general bug fixes, this would include changes in My Grades, to improve access to feedback, a facelift to the portfolio tool, and an improved Student Preview. Perhaps of most interest to colleagues are tools to allow Anonymous and Parallel marking during peer assessment. These features, and the new version in general, will be trialled before software updates are applied.

Looking further ahead, John updated with future plans for Blackboard, largely listening to user feedback, which include a simplified, cleaner, redesigned user interface, which includes new features such as drag and drop when designing courses, improved optimisation for viewing on mobile devices, and a new mobile app. Another plan is the tutor-only app Blackboard Grader for marking on mobile devices. My EDU will be a new product that is "Facebook for the academic world", and Blackboard Analytics will be improved to more complex analysis of data.

This was followed by a useful Q&A with academic users from across the University.

After lunch, today's panel discussion took place, entitled 'The Value and Impact of Learning Technologies in Higher Education'. This was chaired by Dr Christine Sexton (Director of CiCS), with a panel consisting of Prof Anne Peat (Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning & Teaching), Dr Tim Herrick (Education), Dr Gordon Cooper (Biomedical Science), Andrea Fox (Nursing & Midwifery), Dr Bob Johnston (Archaeology) and Louise Woodcock (Academic & Learning Services). It was a lively and far-reaching disucssion, with just some of the highlights below.

The panel began by discussing which technologies have had the biggest impact in learning and teaching, which produced a range of answers, including mobile learning, MOOCs, the speed of connections and social media, but with a theme of greater collaboration being made possible through technology, and a move from front-led lectures.

The discussion turned to the need to keep up with students' expectations, and young people's adeptness with technology, but the point was made that we should not presume that familiarity translates to expertise (TH), and while students may be confident in using web-based technology, they may not be as knowledgable as we think on its finer points (CS). Points were also raised that while we try and bridge the gap of school and higher and education, we also need to look ahead and bridge the technology between education and the workplace (BJ).

During the course of the discussion, topics covered included the future of learning spaces, and why face-to-face contact is still important in the digital age, how student analytics can be used more effectively, and how we can assess if technology is genuinely enhancing learning and teaching. Throughout, points were made that the role of Learning Technologists is integral, with academics needing support to help them realise their ideas. Collaboration between students, academics and Learning Technologists are integral in making decisions (BJ), and we should work with academics' strengths when trying to introduce technology, not see them as a barrier to change (TH).

The session ended with a question of what technology will have the biggest impact in five years' time. Increased prominence of the private sector, and higher education's response to that, was highlighted as a major change, as was students expecting to plug their own devices into the University's facilities. Specific technologies such as Google Glass, and the way we interact with screens, were also mentioned. The session ended with a concern, that perhaps the increased connectivity of students will mean an expectation of 24/7 access to lecturers, and how will be respond to this? (GC).

Ending the day it was Danny Monaghan up again, giving a detailed hands-on session on building interactive tests in MOLE.

This was an excellent start to the festival, with colleagues across the institution attending and engaging with the sessions. And this is just the beginning! The festival continues all this week with a packed schedule, tomorrow seeing sessions on electronic submission through Turnitin, MOOCs, Twitter, social media and peer review in MOLE.

Drop-in sessions will also be run parallel to scheduled sessions each day 10am-4pm in Hicks G29, so if you have a question for the team on pedagogy and learning technology, no matter how basic or complex, then do feel free to come down and say hello.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mobile Apps for Higher Education Videos

There has been a lot of discussion over the last year or so on the Web over the merits of using tablets and apps within education, more notably primary and secondary schools. In higher education there have been various initiatives to encourage staff and students to get more value from their smart devices going beyond the stock use of email, calendar and Social Media. Yet there is an increasingly growing conversation on the Web that the tablets have not changed learning and teaching in the way they were heralded a couple of years ago. Some academics are reaping the benefits of their mobile devices by using a multitude of apps, but from my own personal experience these are in the minority. Part reason for this is there are still only a small number of good quality academic apps out there, or ones that can be applied to higher education. 

Again for the most part staff are using their devices as bigger screen versions of their smartphones to access emails and calendars with some taking and reading notes. Tablets represent a great example of the Gartner Hype Cycle, although according to the technology forecasters we were on the slope of enlightenment a year ago and probably should be somewhere near the plateau of productivity any time soon. It may be the case for many uses for tablet devices, as I said school education, there are no shortage of useful apps for kids (when you remove the U.S biased ones), in addition to apps on cooking, consuming, playing and communicating. Whilst some of these can be applied to higher education, the list of really useful, mass-appealing academic apps remains just a handful and rarely used by most academics and students. The reasons for this lack of uptake is many, that some of the apps are no good, poorly designed or just do not do enough compared to their desktop/laptop counterparts; that it could be argued that the app was created for the sake of having an app. That staff and students do not invariably have the time to explore these apps beyond the ones key to their work, email, calendar, PDF reader and those they are instructed to use institutionally, Turnitin, Pebblepad etc. There are of course exceptions to these rules and communities, student doctors use tablets increasingly to diagnose patients and check medications, whilst for anyone working out in the field, archaeologists, engineers and suchlike there is greater uptake. For the majority of mostly office and lecture-theatre based academics and their students there is still so way to go before they truly do reach the heady heights on the plateau of productivity.

Whilst tablets will increasingly seep into our working environment there needs to be a better understanding of not only how they work, how to stay safe using them and maintaining them but what apps are out there and how can they be employed within a university environment; in a streamlined process rather than just for the sake of it. The reality is that most apps have very small learning curves and are often just lightweight versions of software packages, that an awful lot of them are free and some are hidden gems not always spotted by certain communities. Take Evernote for example, the tablet version allowing for note, image and audio capture are perfect for students in classrooms and academics at conferences, yet many do not apply an academic use for it beyond taking meeting notes. 


The Evernote issue is understandable as with many applications it often takes a colleague or friend to explain and show the benefits of using a certain technology. It very much feels like the period shortly after Web 2.0 had arrived in 2005, and a couple of years later when innovative platforms like Prezi, Mendeley, Dropbox and Twitter appeared and where starting to gain popularity, yet the academic uptake was still fairly low. The reason behind that takes us back to the Hype Cycle again and reasons behind many technology adoptions, that users are wary of new technologies, cannot afford them, do not have the time to explore them and can often feel overwhelmed by them, the same is happening again but on a bigger scale as we have more platforms than before.


With regards to apps there have been Initiatives at our own institution through workshops, short seminars and such as the App Swap Breakfast idea. Another option is by making short videos that not only explain an app's use but also that it exists in the first place, awareness at least opens the mind to the possibilities. At present I have created just seven short videos hosted on the Information Resources YouTube channel and later on the University's iTunes U, but the intention is to create more. The videos explain briefly Evernote, BibMe, Harvard Easy Referencing, Mendeley, Readability and Browzine - the series can be viewed here.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Open Coalition says "No thanks!"

Open Access
To enable the progression of human knowledge there is an innate need to be able to develop upon previously expressed ideas.

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Isaac Newton, 1676

Over the last ten years this process has been facilitated with the development and extensive use of Creative Commons (CC) licences. Other licences are around, but in many ways CC has become the de facto standard. To ensure that licences used can be declared ‘Open’ there are a couple of useful definitions to test them against, the Definition of Free Cultural Works and the Open Definition.

When the concept of Open is applied to content of peer-reviewed scholarly journals it is termed ‘Open Access’. This video by PHD Comics explains things.

So recently when a global trade association for academic and professional publishers set out its terms for ‘open’ licensing that didn’t seem to fit in with the definitions over 50 organizations, including the JISC and the RLUK, formed a global coalition and released a joint letter asking that the licensing model be withdrawn.

Further reading:

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Assistive Software and Technology for Disabled Students - Readit

A small team of staff from CICS, DDSS and Library Services have been working over the last few years to establish a platform for different software and technology for disabled students within the University. There are now various software available on the managed desktop or individual machines in several of the libraries , and also equipment such as CCTV magnifiers

One software in particular is especially designed for low vision and blind users to access texts in the library quickly and independently. Equipped with its own scanning camera, Readit will capture reading materials at speeds up to 20 pages per minute, and then convert the captured information into a personalised viewing style or document format for instant text to speech output.

The text display options include magnification levels, choice of font, and text and background colour. The reading options include a choice of voices and speed of speech. There are various export options including Microsoft Word, rich text format, PDF, plain text and MP3. The Readit software also works with documents already in electronic format so, for example, it can enlarge and read aloud a Microsoft Word document or a PDF. Readit can fluently read different languages and also accurately scan books where text would usually be distorted because of the thickness of the book spine. We also have a site licence for Lex which is very similar software to Readit, designed for students with a Specific Learning Difficulty such as Dyslexia and Dyspraxia to be able to reformat text into a format to enhance their reading speed and accuracy.

The software has been developed by Vision Aid Technologies over the last few years and the University is the first higher education institution in the country to have a Readit site licence.

Readit is currently available in the IC, Western Bank and Royal Hallamshire Hospital libraries, and the Wand camera available on request.

Jayne Woodward
Disability Adviser

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Student Response Systems (Part 2)

Following on from yesterday's post, this is a list of student response systems collated from various sources. I did consider doing this as a table of features but there are so many criteria that this was impossible to do effectively, so what I have aimed to do instead is pick out key points from each offering. You can see in my blog post (Part 1) the things that you need to consider. This list began when I posed a question on the Alt-members (Association of Learning Technologists) forum, so many of those listed are suggestions / recommendations from members. The products repeatedly mentioned were Poll Everywhere and TurningPoint. Other products came from various sources. It is not a complete list nor is the information under each entry comprehensive. The information is accurate as of July 2014, but will change quickly over time.

  • For a basic test, you do not need to set up an account or register
  • A poll is a question. Create as many questions as you like, no matter which pricing structure you are on
  • Question types: Open-ended or multiple choice.
  • Images can be added to questions (drag and drop)
  • Can add LaTex: equations
  • SMS, Twitter, Web responses from students
  • Cap of 40 students for a free web account.
  • Pricing plan for Higher Ed
  • You can see results change as the vote comes in (but be careful as this can influence how later voters give their response)
  • No delay in distributing, collecting or maintaining devices as students use their own
  • Some controversy over pricing - make sure you check. See this blog post by Anne Cunningham (Cardiff University)
  • “Polleverywhere does have a plugin for presenting polls via PowerPoint. Interestingly, half of our trial participants preferred to poll directly from the Polleverywhere ( at the beginning of the trial, 9 out of the 18 academics who registered to participate responded yes to the question “If possible, would you like to present Polleverywhere questions using PowerPoint?” ) (Darren Gash, University of Surrey) (Note added by Terese Bird - make sure that the managed PCs used by tutors have the plugin installed or it can be frustrating.)
  • “We use poll everywhere with the students' own smartphones through SMS/Twitter/Web. Much cheaper and easier to administer than using custom PRS devices.” (Dr Chris Evans, Brunel Business School)  
  • “I used polleverywhere this past week at an 'industry meet the university' sort of session about byod, and it was really good.... It got the point across that we can use whatever device  we own and good learning can happen.” (Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester)
  • “We recently completed a trial of Polleverywhere with the aim of finding an alternative to our existing clicker-based system introduced in 2006. Although they have served the University well, their reliance on proprietary hardware (clickers and receivers) has limited adoption by students (some are either reluctant to carry additional electronic devices around with them or make the effort to book them out from library services) and staff (who have experienced problems getting the receivers to work).The trial has been very positive. Students overwhelmingly found Polleverywhere easy to use, and those who had previous experience with clickers preferred using their own devices. Similarly, staff on the whole found Polleverywhere easy to use, quick to set up and preferred it to the clicker-based system. There is also the potentially wider educational benefit through students being able to respond to open questions with text messages which we’re keen to explore. As a result of the trial we’ve purchased a year site license for Polleverywhere. (Darren Gash, University of Surrey)
  • “Just to echo what Darren has said below. I implemented PollEV in pilot this year. We purchased a license covering 1000 students. The feedback was excellent. We are now expanding wider across my faculty/institution due to the increased interest. Obviously BYOD is a key factor halting wider roll out, so we are investigating purchasing small and cheap devices that can be used where students don’t have anything to use themselves. “ (Matt East, Anglia Ruskin University) 
  • Handsets available, often called ‘clickers’ – different types available offering different types of question possibilities, including a self-paced option (Response Card NXT)
  • “We’re using Turning Point handsets currently. We bought some last summer and keep them centrally so we can loan them to departments when needed. More recently, one of our larger departments has purchased handsets for all their first and second year students (starting next academic year) whilst another large department has purchased the ResponseWare licences with Turning Point, so students use their own devices to answer questions. “ (Catherine Mclean, University of Essex)
  • Software option for use with students’ own devices is called Responseware (
  • “We’ve been using turningpoint handheld clickers for years at Warwick but are now hoping to get funding to licence responseware web client that works alongside it (on web browsers and mobile app). We started using them before the whole BYOD thing and there is still a feeling that we’re not ready to move away from the bespoke handset option altogether. Turningpoint plus reponseware is nicely hybrid. Simon Lancaster from UEA demoed the hybrid approach recently at a guest lecture here and got us thinking!” (Amber Thomas, University of Warwick)
  • Responseware doesn’t support the self-paced polling facility: “We looked at Responseware but decided to continue with dedicated hardware for a number of reasons, not least the ability of our WiFi to reliably handle the number of devices in some areas of the campus (an upgrade project is in progress but naturally it’s not an overnight job) and because ResponseWare doesn’t support the Self Paced Polling facility. We plan to use the Self Paced feature to facilitate computer marked assessments which have a greater range of question types available, to avoid having to shoehorn questions into multiple choice format to use with our optical marking system, and can be taken by greater numbers of students than can be accommodated in a computer room in one sitting.  Even if the feature were available on the app, it would give the invigilators considerable difficulty in ensuring that students are only using that app and haven’t switched to a browser to research the answer.” (Steve Bentley, University of Huddersfield)
  • “We've been running the TP handsets since about 2010, and have found them pretty good. As reported elsewhere, some of our departments and larger faculties have taken the steps of buying them for all their students and tying the handset IDs to the students registration where attendance monitoring was an important issue for complying with external regulatory bodies such as the GMC for our medics. The downside to TP is of course being tied to their hardware, however some areas are now looking at the app version. What I would say about TP, which isn't so much the case with some of the other ones, and I think this is a major reason why it is popular with teaching staff is the integration with PowerPoint. We have TP on our managed desktop, and I think the fact it is so easy to use and represents such a small leap from what they already do is a significant attraction.“ (Graham McElearney, University of Sheffield)

  • Capped at 50 simultaneous students for a free account  
  • Exit ticket feature – 3 quick questions to get feedback at the end of a class
  • “At the Language Centre we also use socrative (maybe language groups are generally smaller classes anyway so no cost involved) Also, from the point of view of logisitics BYOD is a better solution as specialist hardware is not easily accessible when our staff teach in so many different locations. “ (Teresa McKinnon, University of Warwick Language Centre
  • BYOD (PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows) – App or Browser
  • Results generated as Excel spreadsheet
  • Can sign in with Google
  • BYOD
  • Free account capped at 30 students
  • Import a PowerPoint and then add question slides
  • Students see your slide on their device
  • Volume licensing and various upgrade options
  • “I used it successfully with a group of 60 participants using a variety of devices, some supplied (ipad minis), others brought by participants - iphones, android phones, laptops, Windows phones. In fact it was only the Blackberry users who had trouble !!!” (Matt Smith)
  • “Dear Members: The State of Tennessee uses NearPod (you can use on ALL devices including lap top). It is free and offers more than a student response system. You can use it as a clicker,poll, testing, drawing, video, etc. Yes, it is FREE for the students and the basic level for instructors! This application allows our instructor to use as an attendance tool, instructional tool, communication tool, and most importantly a teaching and learning tool and assessment tool.Plus, the instructor may upload content, browse the web, etc. and have it to show on the students' mobile device of choice.” (Robbie Melton)
And a few more worth a mention, in no particular order…..
  • Embed your questions in PowerPoint
  • “I invite you to also consider LectureTools from Echo360.  With it you can pose questions as multiple choice, free response, reorder list, image-based and numerical plus students can pose questions, take notes, annotate slides and indicate when they’re confused.  In addition, it offers a growing list of learning analytics so you can do research on to what degree student participation affects  learning in your classes (e.g.”  Perry Samson, University of Michigan
  • Future Event: Perry Samson will be presenting lessons learned using LectureTools on Sep 1 at the ALT-C Conference
Learning Catalytics

  • BYOD
  • Wide range of question types
  • Owned by Pearson
  • Question sharing across the user-base
  • Detailed reports on student results 

Text Wall
  • Students can send in texts which are displayed on a screen
  • £600 per year as a site-wide licence
  • As many responses as you like
  • Recipients SMS, email, type in web page
  • Responses can go into a Wordle
  • “It allows as many responses as you like and lets recipients SMS, e-mail or type in a web page box. Then you can ping the resposnes straight (integrated) into Wordle for a word cloud.” (Mark Gamble, University of Bedfordshire) 
The following information has been supplied by Dee Vyas at MMU
  • Question types: multiple choice, text response for open-ended answers, free numeric entry , slide to display text and images to respondents
  • Question Presentation: randomly shuffle the order of options for each respondent in multiple choice questions, images displayed in the question with pinch-to-zoom for touch devices, videos from YouTube and media from other sites can be embedded in the question
  • Responding: unlimited audience size, unlimited number of open sessions, guaranteed anonymity for respondents, enhanced support for Android, iPhone, iPad and Blackberry devices
  • Results: results displayed in PowerPoint slides with live updates, displayed as: charts: vertical bar, horizontal bar or pie chart, export / download as spreadsheet
    • table of responses
    • interactive 'sticky notes'
    • word cloud (now available!)
    Usability: powerful search features, Question Bank for easy re-use and templating support

  • Interface may be more suitable to younger learners (although the advertising does say it is suitable for business and University)
  • Geared to games-based learning
  • BYOD (browser-based)
  • No real chance to try – only based on their questions. No pricing given.
  • ActivExpression handsets or ActivEngage software (requires installation). This is ideally suited to learning environments that are already worked with the Promethean interactive classroom software.
  • Requires use of ActivInspire software to set the questions
  • Provides wide range of question types and self-paced options.
  • Browser based
  • An fully-embedded add-on to PowerPoint for live-polling inside your PowerPoint
  • One month free and then £30 per year
  • Ombea devices or students’ own devices
  • Can embed into PowerPoint
  • More detailed analytical tools than many of the other systems
  • Browser based
  • The tutor opens up a blank page and gives a URL to the students
  • No log-in required – can be set up almost instantly – good as an ice-breaker
  • BYOD for any device – browser based
  • Particularly good option to ‘draw’ a response freehand
  • Self-paced option
  • Multi-language option – can be translated for students on the spot
  • Push-link option – send a URL out to all your students instantly -  tutor types in a link, pushed to students
  • Easy to use and we have used it effectively in staff PD & multi-campus classes when presenting via videoconference to get remote students to ask questions and contribute to discussion (Janet Buchan, James Cook University)

  • “A new way to capture student (and anyone else’s) response is by simple video capture using mobile devices in the main. It allows the questioner to pose questions by video capture that the respondent can then watch and reply to, using the same video capture. It works on handheld devices as well as laptops so can be used for web quests etc. Well worth looking at as it replaces the need for written feedback. It could be used to capture learner experiences for OfSTED and Marketing purposes. Can provide the ‘vox pop’ type capture of a video box.” (Geoff Rebbeck, Freelance)
  • Not really suitable for use in lectures, but could be used to capture questions and responses in-between times.
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