From clickers to BYOD: trialling ‘Polleverywhere’ Electronic Voting System at the University of Surrey
The challenges of proprietary EVS
Since 2006, academics at the University of Surrey have been using a ‘clicker’ based Electronic Voting System (EVS) to engage students and promote interaction in their classrooms. Although the system has served the University well its reliance on proprietary hardware has limited wider adoption. An issue for students was the need to book clickers out from library services and carry additional electronic devices around (not to mention the prospect of incurring a fine if they lost them). For staff, getting the USB ‘dongles’ (receivers) to pick up the signal from the clickers at the beginning of the lecture was a concern. The time and resources required to manage and distribute clickers and dongles were a further consideration, as were long-term maintenance costs for the institution.
A pilot BYOD system
Earlier this year the University of Surrey’s Department of Technology Enhanced Learning (DTEL) decided to pilot a ‘Bring your own device’ (BYOD) based system with the aim of offering an alternative EVS to staff. After investigating available technologies DTEL chose to run a trial of the Polleverywhere EVS. Polleverywhere enables students to respond to questions via SMS, web browser or app using their personal devices. A range of question types is available, including open text and ‘clickable image’, as well as the standard multiple-choice. The system also offers staff the flexibility of presenting questions and displaying responses via a web interface or from their PowerPoint presentations.
Following a series of presentations across campus 17 academics signed up to take part in the trial which took place during the spring 2014 semester. After the trial participating staff were asked to complete an online questionnaire to document their experiences (n=13). Staff also used Polleverywhere to gather feedback from students at the end of their final lecture (n=circa 150).
Feedback from the trial was very positive. 93% of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I found Polleverywhere easy to use” and 87% agreed or strongly agreed, “I prefer using my own device to vote than the clickers supplied by the library”. Similarly, the majority of staff found Polleverywhere easy to use, quick to set up and preferred it to the clicker-based system. Feedback also highlighted the added educational benefits of features not available with the existing system such the ability to send open text responses, a function that DTEL are keen to explore further. Although some concern was expressed about students sending ‘undesirable’ comments this wasn’t a major issue. Polleverywhere also has a moderation option that staff can use delete such comments.
As a follow up to the pilot the university has now purchased a year’s site license for Polleverywhere. The system is available to all academics at Surrey and to date over 80 have signed up. The clicker based EVS is still available to staff who prefer this option. For more information about this initiative please contact Darren Gash at the Department of Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Surrey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Darren Gash, Skills and Competencies Development, Department of Technology Enhanced Learning, University of Surrey email@example.com
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