Report on the Evaluation of EVS Usage and Trends at the University of Hertfordshire : February to June 2014
The Electronic Voting Systems (EVS) evaluation project for iTEAM has investigated the current level of engagement in the use of EVS across the institution in 2014. It has built on the work and outputs of the JISC supported Evaluating Electronic Voting Systems (EEVS) project in 2011-12 and the work of the iTEAM project through 2011-2013. It offers an up-to-date examination of the trends in EVS adoption and the breadth and nature of EVS use across the different academic schools. The project adopted a mixed-methods approach to evaluate usage and engagement. The starting point was a desk study to examine the existing data on numbers of EVS handsets purchased by academic schools in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and registered across the University and to explore the details from the School reports previously submitted to iTEAM. Sources of data included Information Hertfordshire and the iTEAM archive. Quantitative surveys were drawn up and information requests for student numbers were made to Senior Administrative Managers (SAM). A series of interviews were held with School-based academics including EVS Champions and Associate Deans for Learning and Teaching. Three purchasing trends for EVS handsets by different Schools were found:- slow decrease in HUM, LAW and PAM, moderate increase in BS, EDU and HSK and rapid increase in CS, ET and LMS. In terms of levels of EVS usage in 2013 -14 four different patterns emerged among the schools. These showed: slow increase (CS, LMS and PAM), slow decrease (BS, ET, EDU and HUM), rapid decrease (LAW) and no change (CA and HSK). The EVS purchasing and usage trends comply with the figures given by Rogers for his technology adoption model. Some schools are characterised by successful ongoing EVS use over several years while other school strategies for EVS, which had showed promise early on, have faltered in their use. There was some evidence that academics in STEMM subjects are more likely to engage willingly with EVS use where larger groups are taught, but this is not yet in evidence across all the STEMM groups at this university. Furthermore good practice exists and flourishes across non-STEMM subjects as well. The strategies for successful School-based EVS embedding and continued use include the following three hallmarks:- •Top-down management support for purchasing of handsets and including training for academics and administrators, and alignment with the School teaching and learning strategy. •The existence of a core of innovators and early adopters of technology including the local EVS champions, who are willing to actively engage with their fellow colleagues in sharing the potential of EVS technology. •An engagement with the pedagogical implications for changing and developing practice that the greater use of formative or summative polling and questioning requires. The immediate future of classroom technologies such as EVS offers two main directions. Firstly, there is the continuation of adopting ‘institutionally provided’ handheld devices. This is a low-cost method that can be used easily and flexibly. The other options for classroom polling rely on sufficient wifi availability in the teaching rooms and/or mobile phone signal strength/network availability and capacity. It is anticipated that the capacity issue will present fewer barriers for adoption in future, and that the future of the classroom response systems is inevitably linked to the widespread use of mobile technologies by students.