February 23, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham

Preparing for using a student response system in your lecture

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Interviewer: “So how do you actually do it?”

Andrew: “OK, there’s some software you can download and basically it runs in conjunction with Powerpoint. So you run your Powerpoint presentation and then it’ll just give you an option of “Insert chart”, and then you can insert the type of chart you want and that’s it. And you just add the chart to a slide you want and it’s ready to go. And you take it over to the lecture theatre, load it as you would a Powerpoint presentation, hand the sets out, plug the dongle, it’s called, in the USB, which picks up the handsets and you’re running live. So that’s how you do it.”

Interviewer: “Do you have an explicit conversation with them about why you are doing it and what you’re trying to achieve?”

Andrew: “The very first lecture I did, I said what they were because they were new, and I explained this was a way to get them to interact without having to put their hand up and be identified. But I don’t do that every time – they just pick that up as we go along.”

Extracts from lectures

Andrew: “OK, we talked about the rate of, the failure rate for cloning, you know the embryos which didn’t make it, to put it in crude terms, and wondered what the IVF failure rate was. It’s actually quite close, so it’s 85% failure rate for IVF.”

Andrew: “Overpopulation is the main cause of world hunger and poverty. What do you think?”


Andrew: “The technical support people, they’re great and they’re always ready to help so that they’ve come and helped me set up as well, but it is very straightforward to do, to design them. It’s just like making a Powerpoint.”

Interviewer: “Do you have somebody there on the day every time you’re going to use them to make sure that everything goes OK? Any technical support?”

Andrew: “There is, at the moment someone comes down at the start. And to be honest I needed him first time. I don’t need him at the moment, but I think one of his jobs is to actually just bring and make sure the kits get here safely and it’s easier than me trying to find the kits and set up and everything, so there’s that role.”

Extract from lecture

Andrew: “Don’t forget to bring your handsets back. That would be great. Make sure you do that. So, thanks very much.”


Andrew: “The technology’s not hard, what’s hard is designing the questions. Now you would think it’s quite easy, especially for a philosopher, to ask questions, but it’s actually hard to get the questions such that they… you get the sort of responses that are going to be useful.

“So ‘Is it wrong to kill? Yes or no?’ A few of the student responses I got back were saying ‘Well, that’s not really a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question, there’s grey areas,’ so it’s really taught me a lot about how to ask questions well, and that’s a useful skill across the board. But specifically if you’ve got a question on the board they’ve got to answer with their handsets, you’ve got to think hard about the questions and that’s something I’m learning.”

Andrew Fisher
School of Humanities

Andrew is lecturing on a first/second year module on Applied Ethics (V7AAPE) to approximately 40 students in the Clive Granger building. Produced February 2008.
This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection.

Posted in Curriculum designIntegrating technologyLecturesTeaching