Christopher Wiley, Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey, shares ways he is using electronic voting systems creatively in the Arts and Humanities ahead of the Turning Technologies User Conference 2018.

How are you using electronic voting systems creatively?

Electronic voting systems are great for polling answers to questions that are either right or wrong, but they also work well for soliciting students’ views on a contentious topic, or engaging classes with issues for which there is no single correct answer to begin with. They are better still for monitoring students’ changing emotional responses to a given piece of music in real time – or for inviting them to text in their favourite composer to produce an elaborate word cloud!

Why is this currently so under-explored?

I suspect that it’s simply a case of there being only limited recognition that electronic voting systems can be used effectively in arts and humanities subjects – either that, or a lingering supposition that e-learning is more the domain of disciplines such as the sciences. While it’s true that response technologies can be highly effective in the subjects in which they are more established, largely owing to the richness of the pedagogical traditions that have already been cultivated in those areas, that shouldn’t be to the exclusion of the arts and humanities.

How are you using TurningPoint in your learning and pedagogy?

In a variety of different ways. For instance, I might solicit the views of the class on a provocative question such as whether the lyrics of pop songs are more important than their musical content, and, depending on the response, put forward arguments for or against the motion in a bid to encourage the students to consider alternative viewpoints. The TurningPoint system then allows us to compare the results of different polls to see how opinion has changed (as it invariably does) in consequence of the intervening discussions.

Why should TTUC delegates attend your speaking session and what is the top learning take-away?

Delegates should attend my session if they want to be inspired by fresh ways to use response technologies that think outside the proverbial box and engage creatively with new disciplines. My top learning take-away is that while electronic voting systems offer an ideal way of collating responses to questions with a definitively right or wrong answer, that need not be the only way to deploy them in the university classroom.

What do you think is the most important e-learning trend for the next 12 months?

The ubiquity of smartphones, tablets, and laptops on today’s university campuses means that mobile learning remains crucial to the e-learning agenda. Rather than introducing unfamiliar elements into e-learning, it makes perfect sense to engage students actively wherever possible using the devices with which they are already well acquainted – which, of course, is exactly what Turning Technologies’ fantastic TurningPoint app enables us to do.

The Turning Technologies User Conference takes place on 7 November 2018 at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Casa Convalescència, Spain. View the full agenda here.