Last changed 25 April 2004 ............... Length about 2000 words (15,000 bytes).
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Video Programme notes

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

This page contains notes about the video "An example of using the PRS voting equipment". You may want to print out this page to accompany watching the video.

Contents (click to jump to a section)

Subject and context

The video shows the equipment use in one class. Its aim is to convey what it might feel like to use electronic voting within a university class, and so to supplement the other material on this web site. (A fuller discussion of our aims, critique of the video, future plans may be found in our rationale document.)

Filmed on 19 Feb 2004, it shows the 8 votes and 5 distinct questions used in one tutorial session of an introductory statistics course with 61 students present, complete with short interviews with students and the lecturer. The 50 minute session was filmed, and the video edited down omitting parts not using the voting equipment, but retaining approximately real time for the questions themselves. Immediately afterwards a few students and the lecturer were taken to an adjacent office for the interviews which were not rehearsed, nor were the interviewees given notice in advance of the session.

The course was the University of Glasgow Statistics 1C course, taught by the Statistics department for psychology students. There are about 210 students enrolled, of which 61 were there on this day. This was the fifth occasion the students had used the equipment, at least on this course.

There is generally 5 minutes available for setup, which includes greeting students, plugging in and starting up the laptop, getting the data projector and screens ready, and handing out the handsets as students come in. This lecturer usually brings two assistants to help with this (visible on the video).

This lecturer used OHP transparencies on a second screen (visible on the video), (whereas others use powerpoint and a single screen for both questions and the PRS software displays). During voting, the audience directs their infrared handsets towards one of the receivers which in this lecture theatre are permanently mounted high on the walls. (The camera caught one closeup of a receiver, but not their positions in the room.) They need to check on the screen to see if their handset's ID number comes up, and if not to re-send their vote.

This class is particularly reluctant to volunteer answers aloud to the lecturer (which is why the voting equipment was introduced by this course team). They are somewhat better at discussing with the person next to them. However, as the interviews illustrate, most approve of the handsets as allowing them to interact with the subject matter without having to make a public show of it. This contrast (between little visible interactivity and what the students themselves say about it on this and other occasions) is one aspect of the "story" in this video.

This is now the second year in which the equipment has been used in this class, and it was originally sought out to deal with these sessions, which had been particularly difficult because of the reluctance of the students to interact face to face. This case is probably typical in that the staff began with wanting to produce more student engagement with the material but now value the equipment even more for the feedback it gives to them, despite students' reticence, on the classes' degree of understanding of particular points.

These particular sessions are "tutorials", designed, not to introduce new material, but to allow students to review what has already been covered.

Contents list

In this session there were 8 votes taken (numbered Q1 to Q8), but only 5 different questions (which can be read on the video): there were 2 re-votes on a question, and the first vote was only to check that every student could get their vote "heard". Interviews are numbered I1 to I4. Times shown are the running time from the start of the video (if viewed straight through). A number of techniques are illustrated to some extent, including peer discussion (with neighbours), re-voting after discussion by either peers or by the lecturer who eliminates some options, and contingent teaching where the lecturer changes his selection of questions depending on the responses so far.

- 0:00 ch.1 Start: titles and introduction to the video.
Q1 0:50 ch.2 Checking each handset is "heard".
Q2 2:30 ch.5 Which is the null hypothesis? 62% get it right.
Q3 5:40 ch.8 Which is the conclusion? 85% right.
Q4 9:40 ch.11 At this point the lecturer changes the selection of questions from his plan. Trick question on Cramer's V statistic. Most get it wrong.
Q5 14:30 ch.14 Re-vote following peer discussion. Still 67% wrong.
Q6 16:40 ch.17 Why question this test's validity? Fairly even 4-way split.
Q7 22:30 ch.20 Re-vote following 50:50 elimination. Still 67% wrong.
Q8 25:20 ch.23 Which test? discussion and vote. Uneven spread, with majority still wrong.
- 26:54 (ch.25) Good example of two (male) students discussing; then a pause; then a different two discussing.
- 29:30 ch.26 Ending the tutorial session and packing up.
I1 30:15 ch.27 Two students: it's worth having, interactivity, privacy.
I2 31:40 ch.28 One student: Answering fast, fast corrective feedback to students
I3 32:40 ch.29 Two students: Lecturer focusses on difficulties. Privacy.
I4 33:50 ch.30 Lecturer: Engage students, feedback to staff is now the top benefit.

On most players (for DVD, CD, streaming video) you can move a slider on the controls to go directly to one of the times listed. In the DVD version, these points also appear on the menu you see on screen when starting it up. They are also "chapter" points. There are additional chapter points: each question has three chapter points, one when the question is introduced, one when voting begins, and one when the voting results appear.

N.B. A thirty second trailer for the whole video is also on the DVD at the end.

Question texts

Formats and how to play them


You will need a domestic DVD player, or a computer with a DVD drive (usually marked "DVD" if it can read them), and software to play it (usually but not always bundled in as standard on machines with a DVD drive). Put the DVD disk in the drive (usually label side up); there may be a little delay while the machine reads it. You may have to find and start the DVD player software yourself (e.g. in the Applications folder); and open the DVD from within the application rather than just clicking on an icon.

The DVD name is "PRS 1" (this may appear on a desktop icon or in a file browser).

On starting to play or enter it, you will first get to a menu screen listing the main points you might want to jump to. The DVD is organised as a single "title" that will play through continuously from the point you begin. You can also jump to any "chapter" point: as listed above. One way to do this is to right-click on the jump forward button to see a pop-up menu of all chapter points. (You may have to start to play some/any part of it, then pause, to get this to work.) You can also drag a slider to move to any point in terms of minutes:seconds of play time from the start.

If it switches to full screen mode the controls disappear, which can be disconcerting at first. Probing with the mouse, either click at the same place your last saw the player's control panel, or at the very top of the screen, and you may recover them.


Files for both Quicktime (.mov) and AVI (.wmv) files i.e. for both Macs and PCs are on the same disk. You may, at least the first time, have to first start up the player application, then open the file from within that, rather than just clicking on the file. Most players will let you move to the point you want to play e.g. by moving a slider until the right point in minutes and seconds shows.

Streaming video

This uses the same player, and so the same controls, as videos from file or CD. The only extra point to note is that if you use the slider to jump to a different point, firstly there will be a few seconds delay, then when it plays the colours may be bizarre until the next complete scene change. Thus you may want to jump to a point at least 10 seconds before those listed above in order to ensure you play through the scene change.

Purchasing voting equipment

The voting equipment seen in the video is PRS. Alternatives to this, and some vendor contacts, can be reviewed here.

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