By Dr Laura Jenkins
The move to fully online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic brought questions about whether students would be as engaged online as they would be if they were in a lecture theatre or classroom. When teaching in-person, clickers were often used to facilitate engagement but in terms of online learning, clickers cannot be used, and alternative methods need to be suggested. Vevox is an online tool that can be integrated with PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams. This can allow a lecturer to present students with polls, word cloud activities and Q&A sessions. Vevox can be used to provide students (and staff) with feedback.
This resource will discuss the use of Vevox in terms of how this can be integrated in a PowerPoint and provide students with a range of engaging activities, in online lecture settings. Vevox has been particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic and has received positive feedback during its use.
Polling apps have been used within teaching environments and in particular, large scale lectures for many years (Voelkel & Bennett, 2014). Lecturers can make use of students who have mobile phones to enable responses to different questions using text messages. Results can be displayed instantly on a PowerPoint presentation. One issue with the use of mobile phones is that not all students have access to a ‘smartphone’ during lectures. An alternative to using mobile phones is the use of polling apps which can be used on any device with internet access (electronic book readers, tablets). These types of apps can ensure greater accessibility.
Jones et al. (2016) used a live lecture broadcasting system where students could use mobile phones or appropriate devices with internet connections. Students reported enhanced learning experiences when the system was used, however, there were still restrictions in terms of the software not being available within all educational settings. Mobile phones and electronic devices have more recently been used within lectures as a replacement for the traditional clicker devices (Florenthal, 2018; Mediero et al., 2021) and feedback within investigations has suggested an appreciation of feedback from the polls.
An example of a polling app that can be accessible in all locations is Vevox. Vevox is an online tool which can be used to facilitate engagement and provide feedback during lectures. As COVID-19 meant the move to fully online learning during 2020, lecturers have had to locate innovate ways to engage students while also understanding the challenges. Vevox is an app that can be used on any type of device, either through an internet browser or by downloading a free app. Students respond on any device and Vevox can be used during lectures that within an online environment, such as on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Description of Teaching Practice
Vevox is an online tool (or app) that can be used to present students with activities within lectures. Although Vevox is an online tool, it can be used within both in-person and online lectures. PowerPoint is often used to deliver lectures, therefore Vevox can be fully integrated with PowerPoint slides. This allows a lecturer to present students with different polls, word cloud activities and it can also give students the opportunity to ask anonymous questions.
Vevox needs to be downloaded from Vevox.com and there are three types of accounts to choose from. First, there is a free account. The free account allows up to 100 students to take part in polling activities and for anyone who teaches smaller lectures, this is great to use. There is also an individual account (£5 per month), and this allows an individual to provide up to 1500 students with the same poll or activity. An institutional account will allow many colleagues from the same university to use Vevox and this will cost the institution £9 per person per month. With the institution account up to 5000 students can complete a poll at any one time and institutional accounts can also allow integration with Microsoft Teams, Moodle, Zoom and many other types of Virtual Learning Environments.
There are three ways in which I have used Vevox in online lectures and these have been 1) creating multiple choice polls, 2) creating word clouds and 3) creating Q&A sessions. All 3 of these methods have been shown to increase engagement.
For a multiple choice poll, a question will be displayed on the PowerPoint screen (see Figure 1) and a selection of responses will be given to students. When the students log into vevox.app on their devices and enter the 9 digit access code, the question will be displayed in the device at the same time it is on the PowerPoint. Students then decide upon their response and once they are finished, the lecturer can present the results.
Figure 1: Lecture slides taken from Introductory Neuroscience module at Loughborough University, using an example of a Vevox poll with responses. [/caption]
A word cloud activity is designed to engage students with the use of different words. For example, a lecturer may ask students what they can remember from the previous lecture (see Figure 2) and when the word cloud question is displayed on the screen, students are asked to type single words into their Vevox device. When the activity is closed the words will be displayed on the PowerPoint screen and this is useful as the lecturer can then see what the students have remembered.
Figure 2: Lecture slides taken from Introductory Neuroscience module at Loughborough University, using an example of a Vevox word cloud with responses.
The final way in which Vevox can be used is to facilitate anonymous Q&As (see Figures 3 and 4). The Q&A session can be used as part of a lecture, where students type in questions and the lecturer responds, or it can be used in-between lectures if students have questions. All questions are anonymous so there are personal details presented.
Figure 3: Vevox Q&A session example taken from Personality and Individual Differences lectures at Loughborough University. View on lecturer’s desktop.
Figure 4: Vevox Q&A session example taken from Personality and Individual Differences lectures at Loughborough University. View on student device.
As Vevox can sometimes not be possible to access due to the costs, there are other online software’s that can be used in a similar way. For example, Kahoot and Mentimeter can be used to display questions to students and there is also an option to use an online tool called Socrative which can be used to give students online tasks during lectures.
Evaluation & Conclusion
While using Vevox in lectures (both online and offline), I have received some really good feedback from students. In 2020 when learning was placed online, it was thought that engagement in online lectures could not be at the same level as in-person lectures, however, feedback from students has suggested the opposite. Feedback has indicated that students enjoy being able to keep track of their own learning with being provided with correct and incorrect answers. As the Vevox is anonymous, this allows students to engage without any concern of being identified (and I have found that this does increase engagement). However, one downside to Vevox is that students often need to have two devices on them when being in online lectures. Students will likely be using a PC or laptop to watch the online lecture, and this means that they cannot see the Vevox questions on the same screen. In terms of colleagues, it has been found that over the past 2-3 years, more colleagues are now using Vevox in their lectures and workshops, both in online and in-person formats. Vevox can be used in any type of lecture or workshop and because it is integrated with PowerPoint, colleagues can present a range of images or graphs to support student learning.
Florenthal, B. (2018). Student Perceptions of and Satisfaction with Mobile Polling Technology: An Exploratory Study. Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education, 26(2).
Jones, J. J., Tailor, M., Ziegler, C. H., & Patel, P. D. (2016). Live Lecture Broadcast System for Clinical Education. Medical Science Educator, 26(4), 673-677.
Mediero, L., Lastra, A., & Palacios, J. G. (2021). Benefits of an Audience Response System based on Polls with Mobile Phones in Engineering Education. In CSEDU (1) (pp. 307-314).
Voelkel, S., & Bennett, D. (2014). New uses for a familiar technology: introducing mobile phone polling in large classes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51(1), 46-58.
Dr Laura Jenkins
Teaching Associate in Psychology, Loughborough University.
Dr Laura Jenkins is a Teaching Associate in Psychology within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University. Her teaching and module leading is focussed around several areas of psychology at both undergraduate and foundation level. Laura currently develops lecture content, practical workshop and seminar content alongside preparing and marking assessments. At present, Laura is the module co-lead for the undergraduate dissertation project module and supervises a number of undergraduate projects each year.
Laura is a member of the British Psychological Society. She completed her PhD in Psychology (working memory) at Northumbria University, where she taught the core areas of Psychology within the Department (social, biological, developmental, cognitive, individual differences). This is where Laura gained an interest in developing her own pedagogical methods. Laura has worked in many universities within the UK, including Oxford Brookes University where she worked as a Psychology Demonstrator. In this role, Laura focussed on teaching research methods and statistics to undergraduate and postgraduate students. After working at Oxford Brookes University, Laura moved to the University of Strathclyde as a Teaching Associate in Psychology where she taught areas of cognition and supervised undergraduate dissertation projects before finally moving down to Loughborough University.
In 2017, Laura designed a Psychological and Behavioural Sciences course for Oxford Royale Academy, for students aged 19–25 years, and each summer the course aims to teach several areas of psychology to the international students enrolled. Laura is currently involved with Psychreg (psychreg.org), an online initiative to discuss areas psychology and mental health, and she regularly writes blog posts upon her teaching methods and past research.
Academic Website: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ssehs/staff/laura-jenkins/
Psychreg Website: https://www.psychreg.org/laura-jenkins-phd/