Cornwall College is one of the largest colleges in the UK and comprises of nine campuses, where students can study anything from Wildlife Conservation and Zoology to Water sports or Accountancy. As one of the largest providers of higher education in the South West and further education in the UK, staff are supporting over 35,000 learners with their studies each year. Much of this support is provided by the ten Learning Centres spread across the nine Cornwall College campuses.
Breaking the ice
At the start of the academic year the learning centre staff provide an induction to all students to make sure they understand the resources and support available to them. The start of a new academic year can be overwhelming for students, with so much information to take in, a new environment and possibly some start of term jitters. To make these inductions as effective and welcoming as possible, students work in pairs during an interactive session designed to build confidence and knowledge about the resources available and also to allow the staff and the students to get to know each other.
Engaging learners & providing accessibility
The main challenges that the college faced with the inductions included communicating information about the huge variety of resources available, in a way that students would find engaging at the same time as reinforcing that staff are there to answer questions - they want students to use these resources and see the learning centre as an asset to their learning. As the college welcomes students of all ages and academic abilities, these sessions needed to be accessible and easily tailored to suit all learning needs, whilst being interactive and fun.
The College chose to create an interactive quiz using PowerPoint and this approach allowed students to take in new information, discover their own knowledge gaps and promotes a sense of responsibility for their own learning. To make these sessions as effective and accessible as possible, the learning centre staff wanted students to be able to respond to the quiz using their own device or one provided by the college, to be shared in their pair.
Cornwall College had previously used an alternative polling software solution but as the requirements of the induction process were developing and evolving, it became clear that a new solution was needed. Naturally the learning centre is focussed on supporting students, so ensuring that they could participate during these induction sessions was paramount. With students of varying ages and learning abilities, the college needed a solution that was flexible and customisable, both in terms of grading the induction content and the visual appearance of the student interface.
The power of PowerPoint integration
Vevox offers a native integration with Microsoft PowerPoint, meaning that staff running the induction session can create unlimited versions of their induction quiz and run whichever version suits the current group of students attending the induction. One of the many benefits of this integration is that PowerPoint is a familiar program to many and doesn’t require any additional training for staff to use. Creating a Vevox poll in PowerPoint takes just a few seconds, so if the content of the induction needs to be changed, this can be done quickly and easily, as users have the full functionality of PowerPoint available to them. The Vevox web app is also customisable, which allows Learning Centre staff to change background colours, to help provide inclusivity and accessibility for students of all abilities.
With their quiz format, one key requirement from the college was the inclusion of multiple choice answers, where more than one answer could be identified as correct. Using Vevox’s PowerPoint integration this was made possible and allowed the learning centre staff to show the breadth of resources available to the students whilst also gauging students’ perceptions/expectations, as well as level of information retention through the polling.
Apps that encourage and engage
To provide students with the most engaging experience, the learning centre staff wanted students to be able to participate and respond to the quiz individually or as part of a pair. Often students can feel anxious about raising their hands, so it was important that students had a way to take part without the fear of judgement or embarrassment. Vevox app can be used on laptops, desktops or on any mobile device, so students are able to take part on their own mobile device as well as using tech provided by the college.
Most importantly, all the questions (and answers after polling) appear on the devices, not just on the screen which means that Vevox can be used with large groups in large rooms and everyone can see the poll. The font and colours are easy to read making the quiz accessible to all. In this way students are better actively engaged with the session as they are participating one on one, rather than passively as a group, which means knowledge retention is also improved.
In implementing Vevox, the learning centre have seen marked positive influence during their inductions.
Kay Ecclestone, Learning Resources Manager for three of the Cornwall College campuses says, ‘We had high expectations and we’ve seen great results in using Vevox. With every induction group we ask students how useful they have found their session and since using Vevox this score has increased to 95%. We offer inductions to all subject areas, previously not all curriculum areas would attend but now we use Vevox, we have takeup from 100% of areas.’
The induction initiative with Vevox started out in the St Austell campus and thanks to its success and support from the learning centre staff, it is being rolled out across all campuses.Cornwall College provides a learning environment for students from entry level to degree with many different needs; some may not be as academic or as comfortable with technology. By introducing technology from the point of induction with Vevox, students get immediate access to the support if they need it, which helps Learning Centre staff to identify those that might require ongoing support during their studies.
Additionally, this promotes the view to all learners that the learning centre staff have the skills to provide this help & support. Education technology is now commonplace and with their innovative application, Cornwall College are proving that they are embracing it to great advantage to both students and staff.
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