Overview

Background

Personal Response Systems (PRS – also known as Clickers and a variety of acronyms such as EVS, ARS, SRS, etc.) have been in use at the University of Edinburgh since 2004. The technology adds interactivity and student engagement to lectures by enabling lecturers to ask questions of the students and have them all reply anonymously. This allows lecturers to gauge student understanding but also to implement new pedagogies, such as peer instruction, more easily with large class sizes. 

The current system, Cricket hardware and Response software both from eInstruction, is limited in that it relies on a proprietary physical handset to record student responses and can only be used with multiple choice questions. Therefore, the only way to expand use of the system – either in numbers or question types - is by buying more handsets. However there are issues with doing this:

  1. Our current technology is no longer eInstruction’s preferred solution and the product is on an end of life cycle.
  2. The latest technology from eInstruction is not compatible with our hardware.
  3. There is a desire to expand the use of the technology and the possible question types that can be asked.

In addition, since the project was proposed, eInstruction has been taken over by one of their main rivals throwing doubt over the future of its range of products in the long term.

In the five years since the last procurement the technology itself has evolved to take advantage of the proliferation of personal web enabled devices. Students would then have the opportunity to use the devices they bring to class anyway – smartphones, tablets and laptops – to take part in a voting session. A survey of staff held in August 2013 shows that the majority favour a blended approach where students can use their own devices but where physical devices are available to those who do not wish to use their personal device.

Clicker Survey Report 2013

Scope

As advised by WIS, this project will only be for Procurement. Installation will be a separate project.

As part of Planning we have to work with Procurement and do Market Research to determine the best procurement model (EU, Open, Restricted, Framework) we have to establish a good team from IS Applications, USD, Desktop Services, and technicians and academics from each college to ensure procurement goes well we have to confirm that there is moneys for buying a product and - if appropriate - paying for the physical handsets (clickers) work with management to determine if a Senior Supplier is needed, if a Project Board is needed As part of Analysis work with Procurement to publish a PQQ (if that is the model) work with stakeholders to determine requirements and publish the ITT and T&C's As part of Acceptance work with Procurement to determine the selected suppliers answering the PQQ (if that is the model) work with stakeholders determine the winning supplier answering the ITT

As part of Delivery work with winning supplier to finalise the legal contract

 

Out of Scope : implement the system - this will be set up as a new project

 

Objectives

Enhance the current clicker technology by procuring the most appropriate technology for the University’s needs.

Expand the pedagogies available to lecturers by increasing the question types available to include ones that promote higher level skills.

Make it easier to expand the service by using supported hardware and licensing of seats to enable the use of students’ personal web enabled devices.

Allow for participation in interactive sessions independent of the actual location of the lecture – e.g. distance learning students watching a streamed lecture or virtual classroom session.

 

Deliverables

  • Agreed Funding for the service - at end of Planning Stage
  • PQQ and/or ITT
  • Legal Contract with new Supplier
  • Modern personal response system
  • More question types available to lecturers – at least free text response but also to include multiple response and numeric question types if possible
  • Increased student choice in how they interact with the system
  • Easier to expand the use of the system through device licensing as well as hardware purchase
  • Increased Wi-Fi capacity around teaching spaces – if required
  • An updated OLA, UPC and Service Description
  • A revised plan for service usage growth  

Benefits

Move to a modern, flexible system as befits a university of the status of Edinburgh.

Allow lecturers to apply new pedagogies when teaching by:

  • making students construct an answer to a question rather than select one option from a list – with the addition of free text and numeric question types.
  • increasing students’ critical thinking abilities – with the addition of free text and multiple response question types.

Interactive sessions can be widened to include participants not physically present at a presentation.

Allow students the familiarity of using their own devices if desired.  

Success Criteria

The current system does not allow tracking of the use of it beyond the numbers of handsets used and, in some cases, the numbers of courses using them. It is hoped that a new system with virtual clicker use would allow for more centralised collection of data and tracking of use.

  • Currently, across all three colleges, there are approximately 3500 clicker handsets in use. It would be expected that use of the new system would increase by at least 50%.
  • Use of clickers in HSS to increase from approximately 500 students to at least 1000 students.
  • Use of clicker system to become imbedded as a core teaching tool in all first year courses across Science and Engineering.
  • Increased use of the technology for more ad-hoc, one-off teaching sessions – currently only three mobile clicker kits are available to staff in Science and Engineering plus one central pool of clicker available for loan to all staff.
  • Reduction in time spent on maintenance of clickers by at least 50% with the uptake of virtual clickers using student devices.