EVS Wordle image shared by AJC1 on FlickrYesterday, was definitely PRS day for me. CLT was running its first lecturer training session for use of PRS/EVS on the new LSE100 course, which I have been helping to prepare and was originally intending to facilitate along with my colleagues. Unfortunately it clashed with a workshop on EVS, co-ordinated by a special interest group called “ESTICT: Engaging Students Through In-Class Technology” which I had already booked a place at. I’m told the training session went very well, but I’m glad to say it was well worth going along to the ESTICT workshop in Leicester. As you can see, I still don’t know how to refer to this stuff. We’ve been calling it PRS (Personal Response Systems) but the accepted norm, at least to this group, seems to be EVS (Electronic Voting Systems). So I will try to refer to it as EVS from now on, at least to the world outside LSE.

One more substantial concern of mine is that students may soon become fatigued by constant EVS questions during a lecture. This had definitely been experienced by other lecturers in the room and one approach to avoid this trap is to create questions where the students are interested in the results. Not just whether they are right or wrong, but they also need to be interested in how the rest of the class answered the question. Also key, is whether they can see that the teacher is interested in the outcome. For example, by reflecting on and changing the course of the class based on the results. It is important not to feel obliged to use EVS every time you want to ask a question to your students. Mark Goodwin, from Leicester University, talked about this along with some interesting tactics employed by some students who had become tired of using their clickers, the best of which was a game of chicken where everybody would wait until the last second of a countdown to press the button to see who could be the last to answer.

Mark Russell, from the University of Hertfordshire, showed us some great examples of linked EVS question sets that help to show where students are failing to understand a concept. In conjunction with student tracking by EVS handset, his system is able to detect where students choose an answer that contradicts an answer that they chose in an earlier question. Where there is a contradiction, the system flags the contradiction. This implies that the student has fundamentally failed to understand the subject matter, and if this continues to happen then the system will send an automated e-mail to the student. Apologies to the two Marks if I have fundamentally failed to understand their approaches!

Steve Draper talked about different methodologies and recipes for use of EVS. One interesting finding he highlighted was that learning is delayed in schoolchildren until well after the lesson where EVS had been used. So if you were to ask a question at the start of a peer instruction exercise and again at the end of the exercise the students may not yet have have fully understood.

On a technology note, I was quite impressed by the capabilities of the WordWall/WordPad system that was used during the day. However, I fear that many of our lecturers wouldn’t have enough time to invest in learning how to use the system. Also, it required a fair amount of tinkering during the session to use it to its full extent, therefore requiring an extra operator in addition to the speaker. Although, I’m sure this wouldn’t be the case once somebody had become fully accustomed to the software.


EVS Wordle image shared by AJC1 on Flickr