Jo Anson, Director of HE at Furness College explains how they have been using Voting Kits.
Jo highlights the benifits of using electronic voting kits which can provide learners with a fun and anonymous method of answering revision questions and receiving instant feedback. She explains how it is being used with HE students for revision and governors for self assessment. She goes on to mention how she plans to use the voting kits as part of an induction programme.
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00:00 Kevin Hickey: Hi, it’s Kevin Hickey here. And, you’re listening to the e-learning podcast from the JISC Regional Support Center in Northwest. This is the December 2009 edition, so, happy Christmas to everyone in advance. And today, we’re going to be hearing from Jo Anson from Furness College about how they’ve been using voting kits their.
Okay, so here in Furness College up in the Lake District today and I’m here with Jo Anson. So, Jo, would you like to introduce yourself, first of all.
00:30 Jo Anson: Hi, I’m Jo Anson, lecturer here at Furness College. And my main job role is Director of Higher Education. But I’m a still doing some teaching, so I know what it’s like to be in the classroom.
00:41 KH: Brilliant, and it’s something that’s being happening in the classroom which I’d like to talk to you about today. And, it’s using voting kits. So, first of all, what is a voting kit?
00:51 JA: A voting kit… I’d liken it to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, from where you ask the audience to vote for either one of A,B,C,D. It’s just a simply fun activity way of getting some feedback from students.
01:05 KH: Okay, so they all have a pad?.
01:06 JA: Yes, they all have a little voting system which is their loofah-doofah, as I call them. [laugh] And, there are different versions of them, … different shapes and sizes, but they are all relatively the same.
01:22 KH: And, is there an instant when you press it and the results come up on the board?
01:26 JA: Yeah, when the students use it… When you got it all set up. The idea is that you ask the questions, maybe four choices, it’s like multiple choice question, and, the students press A,B,C or D. And because the little handset is numbered, and the students know they’re number three, they can see if their response is being recorded or not. So, they get very instant… Oh yes, I’ll press the right button or the wrong button and whether they can change that. So, they get to that instant feedback to let them know they’ve made the right choice.
01:54 KH: So, when they get the results, on the board, does it say this student has answered it, or is it just the total?
02:00 JA: Well, when you’re actually going through the first,… They way I’ve used it, it’s the way the students use it the very first time. And, each question… It just lets you know whether everybody’s filled in all the questions, responses. So, you know when the whole class has responded. Say, you’re waiting for number 7 in the back, and they still haven’t done their response, because they fell asleep or whatever it is. So, the way I’ve used it… As you go through the set of questions first of all, and then you go through the responses afterward. So, to see what their answers are, and if they’re right or wrong…
02:32 KH: So, how exactly have they been used here at the college?
02:36 JA: In a couple of ways. I’ve used it in a higher education module for databases, as a revision section at the end of the year, rather than do to the normal revision class… To make it a little bit more interactive, we set up the conference room. Everyone had the loofah-doofah, and had about 40 multiple choice questions all about day-to-day theory, normalization, security, all the different questions that were going to get asked in the exam. And, they basically went through them a question at a time and that was relatively quick. What you do is usually wait until the student to press the right key or have to think about it. And once we’ve done that, then we went back to the beginning and looked at the results and just see how many people got things right or wrong. And then, we have that as a massive class discussion of why half the students have got it wrong and why half of them… You know, where things could go wrong. But, what was really good is that it was really enjoyable, because the students, the laugh thing, the amount of fun that you had, and have a revision section. So much fun, it’s just amazing. So I think, they thoroughly enjoyed it because no one was identified individually. We could do that, but we didn’t.
03:47 KH: Yeah.
03:47 JA: So, we could actually just say, “Well, oh yes, I’ve got it right and… ” So, the students felt they were getting the feedback, but they weren’t being identified. So, it’s… [overlapping conversation].
03:59 KH: Safe environment?
03:59 JA: A safe environment. Yeah.
04:00 KH: Well that brings us on to the next question which is about the advantages. You’ve already mentioned a couple of the advantages there, really. So, the fun factor and the facts that students aren’t being identified.
04:11 JA: Definitely it is, I think they found it. I probably didn’t analyze it enough in depth when we say, the students did do better that year in the exam or not. But I think it was a way to actually tackle revision in a safer, as I said, in that fun environment. Rather than getting at it and keep looking at past exam papers. We’ve also used it in governors. Someone who had training sessions and assessment questions… When they’ve actually doing their own self assessment as governors during college, on the overall self assessment report that we do each year for college. So, we’ve given them a number of questions where they’ve rated their knowledge. And, so do they think they’re experts or do they know what there is to know about every child matters… So, we’ve done that to actually finding out where’s everybody’s knowledge base. And then, we’ve tailored the training afterwards to actually make sure that they did understand the implications and their roles as governors and one thing or another. And then, went back to those questions again to actually see how their knowledge and information have gone up, and none that was quite remarkable that you see from a starting point to the finishing point… How much their knowledge is about… [overlapping conversation]
05:27 KH: That’s great. Yeah, I’ve some another things happening in other colleges where it’s being used with staff developments in many areas.
05:35 JA: Yeah.
05:35 KH: Another thing, going back to the issue of the students not being identified. I know that one college, they did a trial where they basically ran the same classroom and the same test over two weeks. The first week, instead of using voting kits, they used different colors of pieces of paper and the student had to hold up their piece of paper, depending on what they thought the answer was. And the teacher noticed that there were a lot of students in there who were waiting until their friend held up a red piece of paper, and then would hold up a red piece of paper following them. So again, this other advantage is to making it anonymous.
06:13 JA: But it was elements you could see the students the way they were sitting, which one are you pressing, which on are you pressing. There’s always going to be an elements of that. And I think that was there. But I think because it was so lawful, and be treated like who wants to be a millionaire sort of thing, you ask the audience. And we’re looking at maybe ways of maybe using it through induction or reviewing of courses and actually just doing in class assessment. Just making those activities a bit more… You know, not every week. But once every while it would be good to actually get some of that sort of feedback, can do some of the questionnaires and get live feedback there. And then…
06:47 KH: So the one disadvantage that I’ve heard in the past about these voting kits, was the fact that… Because they’re so fun, it can… Never use them at the beginning of a lesson, because it can be difficult to get the students to calm down afterward. Because they are really fun.
07:01 JA: They’re hyper. I think… I see that. With Governess, we never got to that stage. Well with the students were a bit up on it, but it depends on how you structure a lesson … And it was in a sense it was designed as a core session for revisions. So it wasn’t… It was that whole lesson. So it made sure that that was reinforced. We could actually look at different areas then afterward.
07:23 KH: Have you got any advice, any tips or tricks for anyone thinking of using these systems?
07:27 JA: I think the main thing is make sure you’re prepared, just like in any teaching environment. Make sure you are fully prepared. You’ve actually never trialed that kit beforehand and you have actually got help and support…technical support stuff to actually make sure to set up the room… Set up right. And it is… You know if it’s working. It is be prepared really.
07:48 KH: And finally do you got any ideas on how you might develop these voting kits at the college?
07:53 JA: I’d like to see it being used when we do induction sessions with students. And I’m going to be going around next couple weeks. The students have the induction onto specific [08:04] ____ courses. But you know all the best one in the world, you can go through all the rules and regulations of their courses and implications of what things mean. So for example, if you hand an assignment in late, so what’s the implication for that? Well usually on a university based course, you get penalized. You either get zero or the basic forty percent, depending on the time scales. So a way of, I’ve got a set questions, I wanna go around different groups show the technology to them, having a fun activity… Have they actually understood their induction process and do they understand the implications of some of their rules. So they actually do know it they haven’t just put it in a bag and forgotten about it there. So hopefully to reinforce that induction message that we’re giving to students.
08:51 KH: Well, thanks for speaking to us today.
This podcast was edited using Audacity. With music by Connor O’Brien, which is used under the Creative Commons License.