Annual Conference 7-9 Sept

Guest Post: How do you present survey results in an interesting an engaging way? Make it interactive!

Julie Voce, Head of Digital Education, City, University of London

I joined the ucisa Digital Education Group‘s Technology Enhanced Learning Survey team in 2010 and ALT-C has always been our main conference for presenting the survey results. We attend ALT-C every two years with an update on the adoption and support of TEL within UK Higher Education. The survey results are always eagerly awaited by the learning technology community; however, we have found that presenting survey results can often be a little dry and at some conferences there has been limited time available for a presentation. This is tricky when you have a large survey like the TEL survey. I recall our overview of the 2010 survey was delivered in just 12 minutes!

In 2016, to enhance our presentation we took a ‘flipped classroom’ approach, by releasing two videos in advance of the ALT-C to summarise the survey findings for two of the key topics of which had emerged from the data (Open Learning and Learning Analytics). The intention was to give people a chance to engage with the survey data ahead of the presentation and to generate interest in the survey. This worked to a point, but there was no guarantee that people had engaged with the videos before the session.

TEL Family Fortunes

For the 2018 survey, we wanted to make our dissemination activities more engaging and so we thought we would try a more interactive approach. ALT-C 2018 saw the first (and only!) episode of TEL Family Fortunes. The session was suggested by ALT-C 2021 Co-Chair Farzana Latif, inspired by an event run by the University of Sheffield at their annual Technology Enhanced Learning Festival (TELFest). Based on the popular TV show Family Fortunes, I took on the role of host ‘Les Dennis’ ably assisted by Tom Jolley from the University of Sheffield.

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Photo: Sandra Huskinson

We pitted two teams against each other to try and guess the answers to key questions from the survey. The TEL practitioners, which included learning technologists from three UK universities, played against the ALT-C Exhibitors, composed of suppliers that could be found in the exhibition area of the conference.

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ALT-C Exhibitors: Melanie Thomson from RM Results, Niels Conradsen from Uniwise and John Wilson from Ajenta

A group of people sitting at a table with drinks

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TEL Practitioners: Sue Harrison from Kings College London, Rich Goodman from Loughborough University and Duncan MacIver from Canterbury Christ Church University.

There were five rounds in total where the teams had to guess the top answers to some of the TEL survey questions, such as ‘main VLE in use’ and ‘subjects making the most use of TEL’. The audience could also play along using polling software to submit their responses. After some of the rounds we opened up discussion for the audience to discuss their own situation and the sound of voices was deafening! After a close competition, the winners were the ALT-C Exhibitors.


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It was a really fun session to run, and we received a number of compliments from the audience and on Twitter about the format.

Have I Got TEL For You

Following on from the success of TEL Family Fortunes, I submitted our abstract for ALT-C 2020 in February 2020 with another TV inspired session. This time we tackled Have I Got TEL For You, based on the TV show Have I Got News For You. We found out during the first UK lockdown that our session had been accepted for the ALT Online Summer Summit, but how would this game show format work online? Thankfully, the real TV show had already shown us what could be done so I set to work compiling questions for each of the rounds usually played in the TV show:

Round 1 – silent movie: the teams were played two clips to represent key themes from the survey – in this instance accessibility and the increase in TEL support staff.

Round 2 – picture spin quiz: featuring VLE heavyweights Moodle and Blackboard fighting it out to find out who had the market share.

Round 3 – odd one out round: the teams had to guess which item was the odd one out. This was followed by some reflections from the teams on what had happened in their institutions in relation to the move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Round 4 – missing words round: the teams had to guess the word(s) missing from a statement. There were statements related to the survey findings as well as titles of articles from the ‘guest publication’, ALT’s journal Research in Learning Technology.

We finished with a caption competition where the teams had to come up with a funny caption for a photo.

As per the TV show, there were two teams of two. I was joined by Rich Goodman from Loughborough University (keen to redeem himself after the 2018 loss in TEL Family Fortunes), Debra Garretson from Panopto, Catherine Naamani from the University of South Wales and Dom Pates from City, University of London.

The audience played along in the chat and provided a number of amusing comments. It was a brilliant session to run and so much fun. Once again, we received some great feedback on the session.


Dr Maren Deepwell

Watch the recording of Have I Got TEL For You


Both sessions were fun to present, and the audience seemed to enjoy them. I think being different from the usual conference presentations helped with their appeal, especially as the audience could join in as well. However, they took more time than a standard presentation to plan and set-up. A key factor in choosing the type of game show was to ensure that the key findings and questions from the survey worked with the format of the show. This was quite challenging for the Family Fortunes session because the answers had to be easily guessed by the panel members, so it restricted the type of questions that could be used. The format for Have I Got News For You provided more flexibility in terms of the topics, but still required a lot of creative thinking to get things to fit.

In terms of set-up, both sessions used a standard PowerPoint presentation with animations. For Family Fortunes, the tricky aspect was ensuring that answers could be revealed as they were guessed. Tom worked wonders in the background and used an iPad to ensure that the relevant parts of the screen were revealed along with the accompanying sound effects. For Have I Got TEL For You, a key aspect was the comedy and discussion side of the session and thankfully our teams got into the spirit of things and did not disappoint! It helped to provide a briefing to the teams in advance to give them a feel for the format of the session and the topics that would come up in the discussion, without giving away the answers.

What next?

As we presented in 2020, we are not presenting at this year’s ALT-C, but we are looking forward to the 2022 TEL survey and will be hoping to get a spot at ALT-C 2022. Now we have started with the game-show format, it is definitely something to continue in the future, but which show to choose? Suggestions welcome!

Hopefully, we have inspired you to consider an alternative format for your next conference presentation! Enjoy ALT-C 2021 and hopefully we will see you next year for some more TEL survey fun.


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