Archive for the 'Assessment' Category

RSC-MP3: Interview with Colin Dalziel about the next version of PebblePad #eportfolio

RSC-MP3 LogoIt’s been a while since I’ve done a podcast but whilst at the  Enhancement Themes conference last week in between promoting JISC and the Services I managed an impromptu interview with Colin Dalziel from Pebble Learning to ask him about the next version of PebblePad, version 3, which is due out by the end of this year.

Below are links to the recording and a summary of what we talked about (sound quality isn’t the best - I only had the internal speaker on my laptop for recording):

 
Download Link
Duration: 10 minutes
Size: 7.4 MB

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Summary

00:56 - moving towards a personal learning system, tapping into external systems like blogger and twitter, not only pushing assets out to these systems but also pulling material in.

02:20 - talking about the blocks to integrate with different VLEs Moodle, Blackboard and Turnitin

04:00 - highlighting some of the planned features like a social layer to allow PebblePad users connect from around the world; audio and video recording directly within the PebblePad system

06:00 - planning a lightweight version of PebblePad optimised for mobile use then adding more specific functionality for different mobile devices

06:52 - is there an open source future for PebblePad? Not on the horizon, but will continue to work with open standards

07:55 - Alumni and personal PebblePad access - (there is already a personal signup option for PebblePad £20/year)

Generating Student Video Feedback using screenr

On the 28th May 2009  I wrote a post on Generating Student Video Feedback using ScreenToaster. As ScreenToaster is now ‘toast’ I thought I’d repost highlighting screenr instead. As the process for using ScreenToaster/screenr is so similar I haven’t re-recorded the demo video, but hopefully you get the idea (I’m glad I downloaded the original and put it on vimeo ;)
video feedback
video feedback
Originally uploaded by erikadotnet

As I’ve recently revisited on generating audio feedback it seemed timely, particularly with a request from UHI coming into my inbox, to also have another look at video feedback. Russell Stannard recently won a Times Higher Education Award partly for his work in this particular area. In Russell’s work he uses screen capture software to record feedback on electronic submissions of student work. More information on this technique is available in a case study Russell prepared for the Higher Education Academy English Subject Centre on Using Screen Capture Software in Student Feedback. An example of using this technique is also available - click here for a short example of video feedback.

In my original post I highlighted Using Tokbox for Live and Recorded Video Feedback as a possible solution to distribute video feedback. At the time I felt there were two niggling issues with using Tokbox. First there was the requirement to install the ManyCams software to allow you to display your desktop and secondly Tokbox was very slow in uploading video you had recorded. For live video feedback Tokbox might still be worth considering, but shortly after publishing the post I discovered ScreenToaster., but for recorded feedback you might do better with screenr.

ScreenToaster Screenr allows you to record your desktop without installing any software. It’s very easy to setup and the videos you create can be immediately uploaded allowing you to decides how you want to distribute and share them [You can also publish them directly to YouTube and/or download the video in MP4 format. The following video shows you how easy it is to setup and highlights some of the useful features. Even if you are not interested in delivering video feedback to students this is still a great site to record other material like demonstrations of software.

ScreenToaster Screencast 
Example of using ScreenToaster to deliver video feedback on student submitted work from Martin Hawksey on Vimeo

gEVS – An idea for a Google Form/Visualization mashup for electronic voting

First I should say I don’t think this is the best solution, in fact an earlier post from 2008 DIY: A wi-fi student response system is probably a solution, if perhaps needing more tidying up, but I’m posting anyway just on the of chance that this might inspire or help solve someone else’s problem.

This post has come about as a result of a couple of things:

  1. I’m in a bit of a Google Apps run.
  2. I read and enjoyed Donald Clarks Clickers: mobile technology that will work in classes
  3. I saw and contributed to Tom Barrett’s crowdsourced X Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom (I added #39 Collaboratively building a timeline which I discovered through Derek Bruff’s class example.

Concept: Using Google Forms as an interface for a mobile/desktop based voting system.

Issue: If you are asking multiple questions the form needs prepopulating with options making it a long list for the student to navigate and potentially creating a predefined route of questions.

Solution: Use a generic form with one set of response options, the class using a unique question identifier for response graphs to be generated from.

The finished result

Below (if you aren’t reading this via RSS) is this Google Form. [You can make a copy of the related Spreadsheet and customise the text and options. For example, you might want to turn qID into a list option rather than free text.]

Loading…

And here is a page with a summary of responses, which allows the user to choose which response set to display (screenshot shown below):

Screenshoot of summary of responses

How it was done

Some of you might already be familiar with Google Chart. This service allows you to create chart images by encoding the data in the URL. I’ve used this service in a number of my mashups, in fact all of my previous voting mashups use it in some way, and not surprisingly in Generating charts from accessible data tables using the Google Charts API.

Google Chart works well if it easy for you to get the data and format it for the image URL. For more complex tasks there is Google Visualization. The advantage of Visualization is it gives you a way of querying a data source before displaying as a table or chart. To see what you can do (and the place where I aped most of the code for this mashup) you should visit the interactive gallery of Visualization examples.

Using the Using The Query Language example as a stating point I could see you could lookup data from a Google Spreadsheet and filter the response using Google Visualization API Query Language, which is very similar to SQL. What I wanted to do was SELECT the data from the spreadsheet WHERE it matched a question identifier and COUNT the number of occurrences for each GROUP of response options. An extract from the table of data is:

ABC
Timestamp qIDAnswer
-q1A
-q1B
-q1A

My attempts to convert the SQL version of this query which is something like:

SELECT C, Count(C) AS CountOfC WHERE B = ‘questionID’ GROUP BY C

initially I was left with keyboard shaped indentations on my forehead trying to get this to work but Tony Hirst (@psychmedia) was able to end my frustration with this tweet. This meant I was able to use the following query VQL friendly:

SELECT C, Count(B) WHERE B = ‘questionID’ GROUP BY C

The next part of the problem was how to let the user decide which question ID they wanted to graph. Looking at the Simple Visualization example I could see it would be easy to iterate across the returned data and push out some html using JavaScript. What I wanted to do was GROUP the questionID’s and COUNT the number of responses, which is possible using:

SELECT B, Count(C) GROUP BY B

This returns a table of unique question IDs and a separate column with a count of the number of responses. A form list element is populated with the results using:

for (i=0; i<data.getNumberOfRows(); i++){
  var ansText = data.getValue(i, 0)+' (No of votes '+data.getValue(i, 1)+')';
  var valText = data.getValue(i, 0);
  ansSet.options[ansSet.options.length]=new Option(ansText,valText);
}

And that’s it. If you want to play around with this the code is here. Enjoy and if you find this idea useful or if you spot any issues as always I value your comments.

Free SMS voting using intelliSoftware SMS Gateway service

Technology -
Technology - "Future Vision"
Originally uploaded by $ydney

Previously I written about Using a Learning Apps (xLearn) textwall for SMS voting for £25/year, but what if you haven’t got £25 to spare? How about free SMS voting*, and when I say free, I don’t mean free for the first 15 votes like SMSPOLL.net or free for the first 30 votes like PollEverywhere.com, I mean free for as many responses and polls you like!

*excluding the price to send a txt msg

I’ve been think about free SMS voting for quite a while, 4 years in fact! Back in 2006 one of the first blogs I regularly read was David Muir’s EdCompBlog. At the time I worked at the University of Strathclyde in CAPLE and David was in the Faculty of Education. His blog was great to find out what was going on at the other end of the institution, something Brian Kelly regularly highlights.

In October 2006 David posted his experiences on Moblogging: Turn it on again where he was able to mash a free SMS textwall using intelliSoftware SMS gateway. At the time I left a comment asking if David had:

thought about parsing the text messages for voting? i.e. students text ‘pgdes2blog Q1B’ to answer B in MCQ for question 1 etc? (Anonymously said …)

As it happened David had but neither of us was in the position to come up with a solution back then. Roll forward 4 years (with a Twitter voting solution inspired by David in between) and the old grey cells get a jump start after David posted some reflection on his student induction 2010 style in What did they need to know?. David mentioned he used his free textwall solution again collecting responses on this blog.

Both of us realised that if David was collecting responses on a blog that it would be easy to reuse my earlier Learning Apps solution to grab and parse the responses (using RSS). In fact it was so easy all I needed to do was change one line of code.

So below is an alternate version of XVS – SMS voting using Learning Apps:

*** RSSvs – SMS voting using RSS ***

With this version you can submit any RSS feed and it will extract/graph the number of occurrences of an answer option after a question identifier in the post title. Here is an example of a response chart which is generated from this test blog

So potentially you could use anything for voting which somehow creates results as an RSS feed. But how can you use this for SMS voting?

How to use RSSvs with intelliSoftware  

Unlike the Learning Apps textwall it doesn’t have a native RSS feed for the SMS inbox, but as David has already demonstrated it is possible to automatically forward messages sent to intelliSoftware as an email which can then be used to publish a blog post. This is possible because a number of blogging platforms allow you to create posts from emails (e.g. Blogger: How do I post via email?). Here is how to setup your intelliSoftware account:

  1. Create a blogger account and enable mail-to-blogger (taking a note of your personal mail-to-blogger address)
  2. Usual form filling. Important: Username will be your message identifier i.e. students have to start their response txt with your username so keep it short and meaningful
  3. Once registered login and select ‘Preferences’ in ‘My Account’
  4. In the ‘Forwarding’ tab enable ‘incoming message forwarding’, choosing forwarding type email and entering your mail-to-blogger address.
  5. In the Advanced Settings for this you can also modify the email template. Important: Make sure [Message_Text] is included at the end of the ‘Email Subject’, you should also remove [Message_From_Number] to prevent students mobile numbers being published.

Collecting and displaying responses

When you want to ask a question give users the options and instructions like “to vote for option ‘A’ send a text message to 07786 XXX XXX with ‘xyz #q1 A’ (where 07786 XXX XXX is the mobile number found in the Trial Service section and xyz is your username created with intelliSoftware).

The question identifier (in this example #q1) can be anything you like as long as it starts with ‘#’ and the options can be anything you like (a, b, c … 1, 2, 3 … etc).

To display a response graph visit the  RSSvs Site and enter the rss feed for the blog you are collecting responses on and the question identifier.

Important Tip: If you are using Blogger Blogspot you can increase the number of items returned by adding &max-results={and a number}. For example: http://rschetest.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss&max-results=200 

Once the form is submitted you can swap between the live results and a static chart. (the url of this page can be included in PowerPoint slides allowing you to link directly to the results) Below is the format it uses:

http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.org.uk/mashe/twevs/rssVS.php?id={see note}&tag=q1&options=-&type=live

idis an encoded version of your RSS feed url.The encoded id is fixed so can be reused

tag – your question identifier

options – optional number to restrict the number of options displayed

type – setting to ‘live’ displays the chart with realtime updates. Leaving blank displays the static chart

 

As intelliSoftware have been providing their SMS forwarding service for free since 2006 I would encourage you to have a look at some of there paid for services. Lots of developer tools to look at and the Multimedia Messaging Service MMS looks interesting too.

Morphic Resonance, Threshold Concepts, e-Portfolios and OERs

The Cattle Grid
The Cattle Grid
Originally uploaded by gwendolen

Probably the most unlikely blog post title ever, let me expand.

On Friday we had our ePortfolio Scotland 2010 conference at Queen Margaret University. The final presentation on the day was by Dr Gordon Joyce entitled ‘JISC Effective Practice with e-Portfolios – Where are we now?’. As well as giving an overview/update of the JISC ePortfolio programme he introduced the JISC funded e-Portfolio Implementations Study (ePI) which is investigating, analysing and documenting how intuitions go about large-scale portfolio implementation.

The thing that caught my attention was the framework they were using to capture this information, ‘Threshold Concepts’.

Threshold Concepts’ may be considered to be "akin to passing through a portal" or "conceptual gateway" that opens up "previously inaccessible way[s] of thinking about something" (Meyer and Land, 2003).

This wasn’t the first time I’ve come across this theory (having worked with Ray Land at CAPLE), but it was the first time I heard it being used as a analysis framework. I’ve embedded Gordon’s presentation below, he starts talking about Threshold Concepts and ePI from slide 15, so you can find out how they are using this framework.

JISC Effective Practice with e-Portfolios – Where are we now?

At almost exactly the same time as Gordon was giving his presentation John Robertson from JISC CETIS published a blog post on Threshold Concepts And Open Educational Resources in which he:

considers the possible possible application of threshold concepts to open educational resources and the conceptual challenges faced by those advocating the use and release of OERs

Now what are the chances of that! Or is it just a case of ‘Morphic Resonance’?

Morphic Resonance I hear you ask. I first came across this concept on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Museum of Curiosity’. The basic idea, as I understand it, is that ideas can be shared without contact, a bit like collective unconscious. An example regularly cited is the observation that sheep in part of Australia discovered they could cross cattlegrids by rolling across them. At the same time thousands of miles away the same behaviour was witnessed in a different flock of sheep, morphic resonance.

So if you are putting a JISC bid in I recommend you reference Threshold Concepts ;-)

eAssessment Scotland 2010: Twitter workshop reflections

Last Friday I ran a Twitter workshop as part of ‘eAssessment Scotland 2010: Marking the decade’. In the programme I described the session as:

What’s happening? Twitter for Assessment, Feedback and Communication

Twitter is a social networking site which continues to divide personal opinion. Some believe that the micro-blogging service is just an opportunity celebrities to boost their ego with millions of followers or just full of people ‘tweeting’ what they had for lunch. Whilst some users do use Twitter for this purpose a number of academics are now discovering that Twitter has the potential to support teaching and learning, providing a means to enable students to discuss and share within their personal learning network. Before you dismiss Twitter there are some basics worth considering: the service is free to register, status updates can be made from the most basic mobile phone, and users can monitor conversations through multiple means including, for some users, sending free SMS updates.

This workshop uses some of the features of Twitter highlighted above to let participants experience and use this service as a free electronic voting system (EVS), for classroom administration (assessment notification/reminders) and to monitor real-time student evaluation. As this technology is relatively new the workshop will begin with an overview of basic Twitter interaction making it suitable for novice and expert users.

I was perhaps too ambitious to include ‘novice’ users and it would have been better if I either focused on beginners or intermediate/advance users. The workshop I delivered was probably more beneficial for the later, but hopefully novice users were tantalised by the utility of twitter.

During the workshop I really missed having Timo Elliott’s PowerPoint AutoTweet tool (which is broken because of authentication changes at Twitter). This would have been really useful to send out links during the presentation (this example shows how I used it for another presentation).

As a number of participants had only just created Twitter accounts the week before it looks like Twitter quarantines their tweets preventing them from appearing in search results (I guess they wait until you hit some threshold in terms of following/followers/tweets to make sure the account isn’t being used from spam).

In the sides you’ll noticed I’ve revived the Twitter voting tool (TwEVS). Previously this solution relied on using Yahoo Pipes to manipulate results from Twitter, which meant graphs didn’t always have the latest results because of caching. To get around this I’ve created a script which can be run from a webserver. Here is the new TwEVS interface (you can also download the code).

Using a Learning Apps textwall for SMS voting for £25/year

I’ve written about the different ways you can do electronic voting without buying clickers a number of times from creating a simple wi-fi system, to using services like polleverywhere.com, to even using Twitter (more on the latest on this one in a separate post).

For the ‘eAssessment Scotland 2010: Marking the decade’ conference we ran a poster competition and not wanting to collect lots of slips of papers we thought it would be good to have a SMS vote. Having seen the Learning Apps (formerly xlearn textwall) being used at other events and knowing it allowed data to be exported via RSS it was the ideal candidate. Using the same concept for voting via Twitter (TwEVS) of counting the occurrences of options after a hashtag it was easy to just substitute the feed from Twitter search with the one from Learning Apps.

Wanting to add a bit more than just a static Google Chart I was interested to see if I could get the graph to update automatically without browser refresh. After looking at a couple of options including the Javascript plotting library ‘flot’ I came across a post by Sony Arianto Kurniawan on Create Realtime Chart Without Page Refresh using FusionCharts Free and Ajax (prototype.js), which worked a treat.

The advantage of this home grown solution is it gives you some flexibility in how it is used in particular using the space before the question identifier for users to explain why they think their answer is correct. You can access the voting site using the link below (here is also the source code for download).

*** XVS – SMS voting using Learning Apps ***

Instructions

  1. Rent a textwall from Learning Apps (xlearn) for £25/year (this solution only requires you to receive messages so you won’t need any additional credit unless you plan on contacting students via SMS)
  2. Once created login to the xlearn admin panel and click either ‘Text Wall’ or ‘Inbox’ and note/copy the code after ‘http://xdalearn.co.uk/rssfeed/Feed?id= (might be 12 random characters)
  3. When you want to ask a question give users the options and instructions like “to vote for option ‘A’ send a text message to 07XXX XXX XXX with ‘xyz #q1 A’ (where 07XXX XXX XXX is the mobile number and xyz is the short code provided by Learning Apps).The question identifier (in this example #q1) can be anything you like as long as it starts with ‘#’ and the options can be anything you like (a, b, c … 1, 2, 3 … etc)
  4. On the XVS site enter your textwall RSS id saved earlier and the hashtag identifier without the ‘#’ (in this example it would be ‘q1’). You can also optionally set the maximum number of options to graph. The reason you would use this is to try and prevent any malicious uses like sending rude messages.
  5. Once the form is submitted you can swap between the live results and a static chart. (the url of this page can be included in PowerPoint slides allowing you to link directly to the results) Below is the format it uses:

http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.org.uk/mashe/twevs/xvs.php?id={see note}&tag=q1&options=-&type=live

id - is an encode version of your textwall RSS id. It’s encode to try and prevent direct access to you entire text wall. The encoded id is fixed so can be reused

tag – your question identifier

options – optional number to restrict the number of options displayed

type – setting to ‘live’ displays the chart with realtime updates. Leaving blank displays the static chart

One last thought. As this solution uses RSS feeds to pull the voting results, just as with the Twitter voting example, it would be very straight forward to combine the two (already a feature of polleverywhere.com, but something I’m not interested in doing).

Using YouTube for audio/video feedback for students

A long, long, long time ago I wrote a post Using Tokbox for Live and Recorded Video Feedback in which I demonstrated how the free ManyCam software could be used to turn your desktop into a virtual webcam to provide feedback on students work in a Russell Stannard styley. Recently my colleague Kenji Lamb was showing me how you could directly record your webcam using YouTube, so I thought I would revisit this idea.

This time instead of focusing on the use of the visual element as a tool to direct students attention to a specific part of a assessment submission (e.g. highlight and talking about parts of a word document), I thought it would be interesting to demonstrate it in a more abstract way using images to reinforcing audio comments (e.g. you did good – happy face; you did bad – sad face).

When previously looking at audio feedback I’ve been very aware that reducing as much of the administrative burden is very important. Online form filling whether it be through the VLE, other systems or in the YouTube example, can be a bit of a chore so in this demonstration I also touch upon using bookmarklets to remove some of the burden. Here is a link to the bookmarklet I created for student feedback on YouTube (YouTube Feedback Template – you should be able drag and drop this to your bookmark toolbar but if you are reading this through an RSS reader it might get stripped out).

Having this link in you toolbar means when you get to the video settings you can click it to populate the form. Bookmarklets are a nice tool to have in the chest so I’ve covered them in more detail in Bookmarklets: Auto form filling and more. This post also shows you how you can create your own custom filling bookmarklet using Benjamin Keen’s Bookmarklet Generator.

So here it his a quick overview of using YouTube for recording student feedback:


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NSSE Survey: Enhancement of student engagement and high impact activities (aka the big beasty approach)

Me doing my bit for 'The Services' The 2nd and 3rd of March saw the 7th annual Enhancement Themes conference. As with the past two year I was a delegate at this event, but this time in the slightly different role of one of the exhibitors. In between showcasing some of the JISC wares I managed to slip into some of the keynote sessions. Each year the Enhancement themes do a great job is finding presenters who are incredibly influential and thought provoking. This year my favourite was Professor George Kuh, Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education at Indiana University Bloomington, and founding director of widely used National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE*).

Unlike the NSS which is looking at general student satisfaction, NSSE is a survey which aims to “assess the extent to which students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development”. It assesses this by asking how students spend their time and what they gain from attending their institution. My understanding is that NSSE is

using engagement as an indicator of “grades, persistence, student satisfaction and gains across a range of desired outcomes”

The survey is broken into four main areas: student behaviours; institutional actions and requirements; reactions to the institution; and student background information. For examples of type of questions asked you can view past and present NSSE surveys.

The NSSE has been widely adopted in North America (US: 3million responses from 1,400 institutions; Canada: 64 HEIs), South Africa and Australia and been used since 2000 resulting in a rice dataset.

Student engagement varies more within than between institutions

The NSSE has found that there is more local than inter institutional variation in student engagement. i.e. there is little difference in student engagement between the best and the worse institutions, but the differences between institutional departments is major.

‘How can you get students more engaged?’ I hear you ask, why with ‘high-impact’ learning activities. As it happens George has written book on the topic, High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. Although it wasn’t explicitly mentioned I image George has used the NSSE survey to identify ‘high-impact’ activities. His top 10 were:

  • First-Year Seminars and Experiences
  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Learning Communities
  • Writing-Intensive Courses
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • “Science as Science Is Done”; Undergraduate Research
  • Diversity/Global Learning
  • Community-Based Learning
  • Internships
  • Capstone Courses and Projects

There are some Americanisms in this list but hopefully you get the picture. I would say all of these activities are reflected in the existing academic research on best teaching/learning practices.

Engaging in these activities George suggested that students are more likely to:

  • Invest time and effort
  • Interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  • Experience diversity
  • Get more frequent feedback
  • Reflect & integrate learning
  • Discover relevance of learning through real-world applications

The Enhancement Themes have already generated a number of resources covering these areas including research teaching linkages, integrative assessment and assessment, the first year and responding to student needs (as well as flexible delivery). The conference also saw the publication of 5 new briefing papers under the current ‘Graduates for the 21st Century strand:

In George’s presentation he highlighted three action steps:

  1. Use engaging pedagogies campus wide
  2. Put money where it will make a difference to student success
  3. Ensure programs are high quality

I’m sure you would agree that all of these are what we are striving for anyway and not particularly earth shattering. If you adopted the NSSE locally there is an opportunity to use the data diagnostically to identify the your ‘local variations’, identifying courses that are not engaging students. I’m sure many of you are already doing this through end of module surveys, but I would recommend looking at the NSSE questions to see if these need to be re-examined.

Slides for all the conference keynote sessions including George Kuh’s are available on the Enhancement Themes plenary presentations page (videos of the sessions will be available shortly). Update: Videos now available here

*pronounced Nessie, hence the title of this post

MASHe Review: Electronic voting systems (clickers)

As we start a new year now seems like an ideal opportunity to revisit some of my old posts, pull out some common themes and reflect on what was and potentially what will be.

For my first theme I want to revisit electronic voting systems (EVS). EVS has been used in education for a number of years. This particular technology has had a well documented positive impact the learner experience, particularly attainment and retention, yet still hasn’t received mass adoption. One of the reasons is probably the cost of bespoke hardware and software. With the increasing mass adoption of mobile phones with Internet connectivity via 3G or campus wi-fi networks there is increasing potential to use student owned devices for in-class voting.

Cans and strings

Over the past 12 months I’ve made a series of posts on how this model could be used. First was the very experimental ‘DIY-PI’. The thinking behind this was to run a local web server with very basic web based voting software which students could then interact with over a shared wi-fi connection. The result was very much a ‘two cans and a string’ solution and never intended as a final product. The post, DIY: A wi-fi student response system, outlines the argument for using mobile phones as voting handsets and containing links to a short demonstration video and the source code used to create DIY-PI.

One of the issues with DIY-PI is, whilst it uses existing open source technology, it requires custom coding to handle the voting and it is fair to say my efforts are very rough around the edge.

Twitter for voting

The model of voting via student owned devices was one I revisited later in the year with TwEVS. TwEVS removes the need for custom coding, instead it mashes existing free web services including twitter to allow electronic voting style interaction. The two posts which cover this are Twitter + voting/polling + Yahoo Pipes = TwEVS (The Making Of) and Electronic voting and interactive lectures using twitter (TwEVS).

This work culminated in a presentation at the University of St. Andrews for the eLearning Alliance. Even though this solution removes a lot of the techie programming it still requires a degree of knowledge to create and embed custom urls into PowerPoint.

Shortly after I made this presentation I was made aware of work by Timo Elliot which used the same concept of conducting votes via twitter but he has a much more elegant twitter integration with PowerPoint.

Voting via text (SMS)

One of the advantages I highlighted about using twitter for voting is that users can setup their account to update messages on twitter via text messaging (SMS). This means even the most basic phones without wireless access can be used, but it still requires students to register for twitter accounts. In the midst of my twitter-for-voting research I came across some other solutions which allow voting via SMS.

The first came courtesy of Sean Eby at polleverywhere.com. This service is specifically designed to make it easy to create and administer voting via SMS (as well as giving users the choice to respond via the web and twitter). One of the feature I like about Poll Everywhere is that they make it very easy to embed polls into your existing PowerPoint presentation. If you have less than 30 people responding to a poll then the service is free (perhaps not enough to test it properly in-class, but still a service worth looking at).

Along similar lines my colleague Adam Blackwood demonstrated how an application for Android mobile phones could be used for voting/polling. More details of this solution are here: ALT-C 2009 I: Mobile technology – proximity push and voting/polling on Android. This solution is slightly different to Poll Everywhere in that votes are administered from the tutors phone using their existing mobile number to collect responses.

A factor which will probably mean SMS voting won’t see mass adoption in the UK is the cost to students for sending a text message although changes in the way mobile contracts are promoted (bundling text messages) may be enough to convince more people to try this solution.

Future trends

It’s unlikely that voting will be for everyone but there is some examples of institutions using student owned phones for collecting responses. The trend appears to be using multiple means, integrating a number of social networking sites, dedicated web interfaces and SMS. An example of this is an application developed by Purdue University, which I highlighted in Hotseat: Any Mobile Will Do. This solution, whilst not explicitly used for voting, also highlights another future trend in this area. The move towards continuing in-class discussion outside the classroom, extending the time students spend actual thinking about new concepts and ideas.

[Final thought: I've been out of the loop with what EVS/clicker manufactures have been doing with their voting software (other than virtual handsets), but I'm sure they must be looking at a similar model of aggregating votes from different sources.]

About

This blog is authored by Martin Hawksey e-Learning Advisor (Higher Education) at the JISC RSC Scotland N&E.

mhawksey [at] rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk | 0131 559 4112 | @mhawksey

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