Voting pads have been around in education for a few years now, and although they are falling out of favour with many at the moment (and similar to other issues – it isn’t the technology that is at fault but the way that it is used – or abused in many cases, which isn’t the fault of the teaching staff, but the lack of staff development time and opportunity for them), I thought that I would share one way that I used such technologies to good effect.
I used to teach sport science, and one unit was a leadership one, where we would be in a sports hall, and as part of the course I would get the learners to lead parts of sessions. After each ‘micro-lead’ we would then reflect and feedback on it. For many years I would ask the other learners what they thought – and being very polite and not wanting to offend, they would always say everything was very good – even though some sessions were clearly awful. I would then step in with my feedback, which often wasn’t as complementary, the effect of this was the learners didn’t take my constructive criticism on board as well as I would have liked.
In my final year of teaching, I changed this and introduced the voting pads. All I needed was my laptop and the bag of pads (I didn’t need or use a projector!) at the end of the micro-lead, we would return to the seating area, everyone would pick up a pad (it didn’t matter which one) – and I would ask them to rate parts of the session that they had just partaken in. People would do this, and as it was anonymous they were very honest, this had a much better effect on the learner who had lead, than me just ploughing in with critiscisms – instead I was able to pick up on the feedback from their peers, and pick out the reasons why, and what to do next time to better effect.
This I think is still a very good use of voting technologies – and it isn’t just for the sports environment, anything where learners have to present, this can be used. Now if we want to take this a step further there are various ways of making use of learners mobiles phones to get similar feedback, but for places that ban phones and have bags of voting pads in cupboards then this is a very good technique. This posting was triggered by reading a blog article on this topic at http://mobile-learning.blog-city.com/the_use_of_an_audience_response_systems_to_provide_peer_feed.htm