With technology evolving at a rapid pace, incorporating phones and other tech gadgets in educational settings has become the norm, and research shows that it leads to positive outcomes and increased participation in classrooms. Having taught in higher education for over 12 years and worked across multiple institutions in the UK, I’ve developed a knack for utilising various technological tools to spice up lectures, seminars, and practical workshops, making them not only informative but also engaging and exciting.
In previous institutions, I used Kahoot, which provided students with great interactive quiz activities, and I also used Socrative which was used in and outside of a classroom situation where students took informal quizzes.
When I moved to Loughborough in 2018, I was told about Vevox when I attended a staff development session about engagement in teaching. In 2018, not many of my colleagues were using Vevox as it had only just been introduced to the university, and staff were trying to figure out how to use it.
By the end of 2018 – when I took my first large lecture at Loughborough – I was comfortable using Vevox within my lectures to provide students with interactive activities. Since then, I have incorporated Vevox into my lectures, which has transformed the way I teach in the lecture hall. In fact, it has become my secret weapon for engaging my students.
I like to engage my students with a fun and interactive word cloud activity. I ask them to recall what they remember from the previous week’s session. It’s not about rehashing old material, but rather a way to kick-start their brains and get them thinking critically. It’s not just a casual chat, but rather an opportunity for them to review the concepts in a relaxed and informal setting. So while we may touch upon the key takeaways from the previous week, it’s more about helping them reinforce their learning and build a foundation for the new material. With Vevox, my lectures are no longer a one-way street, but a dynamic and engaging conversation with my students.
Vevox has another advantage: it can be integrated into PowerPoint slides. This feature is especially valuable to me when I want students to provide feedback on an image displayed on the screen. Sometimes these images are non-academic, such as pictures of emotions (when teaching about emotion and personality). However, at other times I can include study findings and graphs in the PowerPoint slides and embed a Vevox question in the slide with them.
Vevox offers complete anonymity to users participating in its activities. This anonymity feature makes it a powerful tool in lectures, as it encourages students to feel more comfortable while answering questions or posting comments.
When I have used previous pieces of software (such as Kahoot), while they have been interactive, students have always had to type in their names which can make students uncomfortable. Vevox is also inclusive as it can be used on any device and we now have an app at Loughborough that directs students to the Vevox session page. One of my main uses for Vevox is to provide students with formative feedback.
In education, we struggle to provide feedback to large cohorts of students and the best thing about Vevox (in my view) is that it can provide instant feedback in terms of giving students the answers to questions that they have answered in lectures, or by allowing the lecturer to talk through a word cloud activity.
Vevox can also be used outside of higher education, and it has been used with many businesses such as Kellogg’s, Microsoft and within the NHS. Vevox can make meetings more interesting and can be a more informal way to facilitate discussion within meetings. When I have used it in work meetings, I have been able to gather thoughts from colleagues and this has helped me to structure future meetings without the concern of having names attached to comments if they are quite critical. This way, Vevox is very useful as the survey function enables business owners to gather anonymous feedback from staff and meeting attendees.
I have used Vevox both in online and offline environments and from my own experience, it can make those online environments a little more engaging. During Covid when we were in lockdown and teaching was moved online, Vevox was the first piece of software I thought to use within my online lectures and workshops. As the students were already watching the lecture through a device, this meant that they did not have to locate an extra device like they may have needed to in an in-person lecture. Instead, students could listen to my lecture and engage in the Vevox activities at the same time.
I would often teach two-hour lectures and some of the lecture content was quite complicated. Using Vevox helped my students to understand the content better and it provided me with the opportunity to see which concepts the students were struggling with (for example, if they repeatedly provided incorrect answers to certain Vevox questions). I have also used Vevox when presenting at international conferences through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Vevox easily integrates with these pieces of software and it has allowed me to engage audiences from around the world when I have been speaking to them about my students’ research or my own pedagogical approaches.
I must admit that I don’t always use Vevox for educational purposes. When I am lecturing, I use Vevox to get students’ opinions on topics that have happened in the real world, and because all activities are anonymous, I have found that students have really enjoyed these activities. Even questions asking the students how they are feeling that day gives me, as an educator, an understanding of whether I need to be more sensitive or aware of situations when I am teaching.
The good thing about Vevox and the resources that are offered is that they are often live events. For example, Vevox is currently delivering its Spring Pedagogy Webinar Series which has provided educators with the opportunity to share knowledge and interact with the wider Vevox community. If you’d like to sign up for this free seminar series, please click here.
As I navigate the realms of academia, Vevox has risen above the rest and become indispensable in both my instructional and administrative capacities. The impact of this tool at Loughborough University is nothing short of remarkable, as its presence has expanded far beyond the confines of the classroom and into every facet of my academic pursuits.
Laura Jenkins, PhD is a teaching associate in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University.
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