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EVS, pedagogy, new software developments

Title: Workshop with WordWall: New EVS software features and their relationships with pedagogic designs
Date/time : Friday 19 June 2009. Session: 2-5pm (max),
Place: "SUPA" room (no. 255a), Dept. of physics (Kelvin Building), Glasgow University campus
How to get there:
      How to get to Glasgow university: here or here.
      How to get to the Kelvin building (B8 on campus maps) 1 2 3
            Or in words: go in "Botany gate" and it's the second building on the left.
      How to get to the SUPA room (255a):
(The main entrance to the Kelvin Building is up a few steps.)
To the first approximation Kelvin building is a square. Rm255 is on the opposite side of the square from the main entrance. From the entrance, turn right past the janitor's box and keep following the corridor. After a few turns and 5 sets of swing doors, you will eventually get to Rm255, which is on your right and just before another set of swing doors.

Presenter: Josh Smith of WordWall
Chairman: Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Related material:


I was recently visited at short notice by Josh Smith, who is half of a two man company making its living from selling EVS to schools along with its own software. I was stimulated by the demo. It had some good technical usability features: the handsets find the radio channel automatically and self-register; I think the users can self-register and connect with an entry in a class rota. It took further the ability of Promethean software to take free text input and support the presenter in doing very rapid categorisation so as to feed-back a representation of the spread of opinion. Even better, it can turn such OE (open ended) input manually sorted into categories into an instant MCQ: so for course feedback, you can do both phases of a good evaluation (discovering the issues from OE questions, then checking how many agree with each emergent issue) in one session in just a few minutes. It also had some glitzy support for knocking together MCQs that underneath supported something I recommend but usually can only do by completely rewriting questions: if you construct a quiz asking about, say, chemical elements: their names, their symbols, a photo (showing their colours) etc., you can very quickly pose the questions any way round e.g. give the name and ask the symbol, give the symbol and ask the name, ... Thus there seemed to be a mixture of glitz, significantly better technical features, and better support for some pedagogical methods of using EVS. Their software isn't currently up to supporting large lecture theatres, but stimulated me to think more about the underlying real questions which are: how to use EVS to improve learning, what are the pedagogical procedures that can cause one or another kind of gain.

He has agreed to come back to give a two hour workshop organised along the lines below. What's in it for him is to get a better understanding of what moving into the HE market would require, plus a slight chance of eventually achieving sales from us. What's in it for us, is a stimulus for thinking about modes of use, plus an update on what is technically possible and almost available.

The agenda

I'm currently hoping to have a room with an electronic whiteboard (because Josh's stuff was originally designed for that); and 2 data projectors so we can simultaneously run his software on one, and other software e.g. PRS, or Tim's on the other for comparisons. My suggestion would be that the first hour or so is organised around pedagogical issues and approaches; the second round technical issues.

  1. First hour: pedagogical designs / issues.
    1. Instant quiz from OE data e.g. for course feedback: open ended text to gather suggested issues, followed by instant survey of audience about each such issue.
    2. Asking fact quizzes with questions in multiple directions along the links (e.g. name, symbol, other descriptions).
    3. Class tests (as I call them) where students work through a set of questions in their own time, not all answering each one to the same deadlines.
    4. Open-ended numerical input: discuss what Tim and crew have done; whether Josh has got anything worth imitating in this area.
    5. Gathering data, probably open-ended text, in one class; brooding about it offline; using it without retyping in the next class meeting. I.e. stop thinking of EVS software as something that only lasts 1 hour, and focus more on pedagogical applications over days, and whether we need new software features to support that better.
    6. Vote, re-vote, graphs of how many changed in which direction.
    7. The displays (bar charts, pie charts etc.) showing the vote distribution, especially with regard to how the presenter can react on the spot.
    8. Post-class analysis of captured data.
    9. If you think of any other pedagogical routines worth exploring here, let me know.

  2. Second hour: technical features
    Both asking him, and letting him show off things like self-registration of handsets. He has some alternative input modes, where students have cursor keys that incrementally move their cursor on screen till it is over/in the right answer. The heaping of cursors is of course an alternative to bar charts to show which options are attracting how many votes. Works well apparently with 10 or 30. In big classes then what? e.g. randomly pick a subset of handsets that get to have this, while other votes are accumulated more conventionally?

No need to book formally, but unless you let me know you are coming a) I won't tell you if the place moves suddenly; b) if the room overflows, those I didn't know about will have to leave in favour of those I did.

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