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Interactive lectures interest group (ILIG): main website index page

(written by Steve Draper)   Short URL for this page:

This is the home page for some web pages, now largely out of date, about interactive lecture methods in general, and using classroom electronic voting systems (EVS) in particular. (EVS are also sometimes referred to as "clickers", PRS, GRS, CCS: for a discussion, see this list of terms used.)

(If you find this site useful, other major sets of pages on a similar topic are at: Peer instruction for computer science; Stanford / tomorrow's professor; Vanderbilt; Amherst; or this Simpson & Oliver 2002 report (33 pages); pages on EVS use in maths from Loughborough and from Surrey. or a page at Colorado.)

If you are located in the UK, particularly, then you might want to join the special interest group on EVS "ESTICT": "Engaging Students Through In-Class Technology". (Other, desperate enquiries about it to Sian Cox [sian.cox.1 AT].) You might also want to join this email list: (electronic-voting-systems AT

You can access the pages on this website in alternative ways:

Contents of this page (click to jump to a section)

There are basically two ways for a newcomer to tackle these web pages and the subject of interactive teaching with EVS. If you just want to know what EVS are, or if you have already decided to give them a try (perhaps because you have an idea where and how they would fit into your own work), then you want the "bottom up" approach: go to the section below on "How-to advice", and it will take you from low level practical details, up through designing a question, then the presentation issues (such as explanations) around a single question, then on to designing sets of related questions, and on "up" to wider scopes. On the other hand, if you aren't particularly committed to technology but are interested in systematically changing teaching to be more effective by being more "interactive", then you want the "top down" approach, and should begin with the first section "Interactive Lectures". You are more likely to be interested in this approach if you are a head of department or at least a course team leader, and can consider substantial changes to the demands made of your students and the timetable.

Interactive Lectures

  • Interactive Lectures: overall points.
          The EVS technique       The one minute paper technique.
  • Short (2 pages and a table) overview of our past work with electronic voting systems. PDF file
  • EVS: a catalyst for lecture reform by Alistair Bruce.
  • Transforming lectures to improve learning

    Using EVS at the University of Glasgow

    Current (2016) system: YACRS

    Neil Barr has created a new system "YACRS" (Yet Another Classroom Response System). It is a classroom interaction system that allows students to use their own devices (mobile phones, tablets or laptops) to respond to questions during class. The motivation behind developing it was that the EVS systems we use at the University of Glasgow were becoming increasingly problematic — making sure batteries were OK, identifying broken hand-sets and getting them to the right lecture theatre all posed problems. Since almost all students carry a smartphone or other device it seemed logical to replace the clicker system with a web based system. A few features:

    The websites for versions of the YACRS server are: (most stable) (More advanced) (being developed further)

    Basic teacher guide
    A talk about it was given at the 2015 internal learning and teaching conference. The abstract is at page 12 of the proceedings.

    Wifi coverage: the expert seems to be Drew McConnell; and the online web pages about coverage are not accurate (seem to under-report its extent). I have the impression that there are just a very few rooms with no usable coverage. Newer / larger lecture theatres may have multiple points. A test of YACRS in the Joseph Black LT with 190 students had no trouble for mass student access to wifi, even though it had only one access point in the room itself.

    Passport photo A server is being commissioned for this. Currently ask Niall Barr to set permissions for you to use this; and to get more information.

    Newsletter items about YACRS:   1   2

    Past advice on the older RF (radio) handsets

    Information on using the university's EVS equipment is accessed from a single web page (and if necessary this phone number: x3286). The university now owns quantities of PRS RF equipment, which is centrally managed. (There is also older IR equipment available, and computing science owns some new WordWall equipment which allows freeform texting input from the audience.)

    You may want to consider these elements (you can find links for these from the link above):

    Past work and advice on the older IR handsets

  • The EVS technique (short introduction with pictures)
  • More practical details (longer introduction)
  • Physics has its own equipment
  • Past workshops for prospective users
  • Overview evaluation paper about uses Oct 2001 - Dec 2003.

    How-to advice on using EVS anywhere

    This section is essentially a "bottom up" tour, beginning with practical technical details, and gradually leading to wider questions of how to string questions together or redesign whole sessions.

    What's it all about?

    If you want a quick look at what it's all about, to see if it might interest you, then try

    Getting started quickly

    The majority of the lecturers and presenters who have approached us to try using the EVS have already had an idea about how they might be used, and wanted practical tips on putting this into practice. Here are some introductory how-to topics for your first few uses.

    More detailed issues in designing and conducting sessions with EVS questions

    The set of different benefits and pedagogical approaches

    What are the pedagogical benefits / aims?     Short answer     Best summary     (an alternative expression)     Long answer (a whole paper)    
  • Summary list of pedagogic purposes for EVS


    Technologies and alternatives are given on this page,
    which also includes contact information on equipment purchase
    (and a few bits of history of earlier efforts)


    Some other common questions not answered elsewhere on these pages are here.

    Evaluating evidence on EVS effectiveness

    There are basically three classes of evidence to consider: as discussed on this page.


    Ad hoc bibliography.

    In that bibliography, a very few outstanding things are starred: if you want to do some reading, you could do much worse than start with them. See also below.

    written at Glasgow University

    Written elsewhere in the UK

    Mentions in newspapers

  • Mentions in THES (Times Higher Education Supplement) include:
  • Guardian Education 21 may 2003 pp.14-15
  • Andy Sharman "Lessons at the click of a finger" The Independent, Education section 14 Feb 2008 p.6

    written elsewhere in the world

    A large, if rather random, collection of articles related to EVS written elsewhere in the world are in the ad hoc bibliography. Here are a few notable ones.

    Other local Web documents

  • Newsletter ad for users at University of Glasgow
  • Second Newsletter ad for users at University of Glasgow
  • Third Newsletter ad for users at University of Glasgow
  • Newsletter article on use in English Literature
  • A letter to THES
  • Alternatives, TECHnologies, and VENDORS.
  • Unnecessary technical details of PRS [not finished yet]
  • Hake and what matters (To be written)
  • Undigested notes and URLs
  • Some pictures of PRS: at the end of this page and also here
  • Some UK sites and PEOPLE who use EVS

    Some other websites

    Here's just a very few websites related to EVS that you might like to try. topic are at: Vanderbilt; Amherst; or this Simpson & Oliver 2002 report (33 pages); pages on EVS use in maths from Loughborough and from Surrey. or a page at Colorado.)

    Handset use in the UK

    Some other UK sites and people who use EVS are listed here.

    Some human contacts at Glasgow

    If you want to actually talk to someone, you could try:

    Other important Glasgow University contacts:

    Other people who use EVS (and PRS users) in the UK are listed here.

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