Vevox provides confidential Q&A for Students at the University of Southampton

The education sector is one of Vevox’s main areas of focus. It’s an area where communication is a vital function for learning through discussion, Q&A, knowledge sharing and feedback. Vevox is increasingly being used in education environments to promote uninhibited feedback in class discussion, as well as improve engagement and inclusion during lectures and beyond.

SouthamptonUniversityLiveLectures.jpgIn this case study, we take a look at how Education Technology (Vevox) has helped teaching staff from the Health Sciences Faculty at The University of Southampton and patient educators to connect healthcare students with the experiences of patients and healthcare service users, to provide a richer, more in-depth learning experience.

The Challenge

Over two sessions, Trevor Kettle, Healthcare educator and Faculty Lead for Patient and Public Involvement and Anya de Longh, Patient Educator, wanted to discuss Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) with post-graduate students and qualified health and social care professionals studying on two different courses at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Southampton University.

PPI is a sensitive subject area for both patients and healthcare professionals, so it was important for both Trevor and Anya to be able to create a safe space for students to ask and answer questions in confidence, as well as provide their opinions. All parties needed to feel that the topic at hand was handled in a non-confrontational way, whilst Trevor and Anya could remain in ultimate control without restricting the all-important feedback.

As Anya was not always local to the University, remote participation was also a necessary requirement for the sessions.

The Solution

The use of polling questions with Vevox enabled Trevor and Anya to respond to the direction of conversation in the room immediately and to test the students’ approaches in a non-confrontational way. Vevox’s moderation and anonymity features were put to good use during these two sessions.

Anya explains, “As a non-academic ‘lay’ educator, these sessions felt very comfortable, for a range of reasons. It was a very easy platform to use, and it enabled me to pick questions I felt most comfortable answering and that were the most important. This was real time ‘patient’ influence of the teaching agenda in collaboration with students!"

Trevor-and-Anya-Live-Polling-Presentation.JPGFrom a logistical perspective, preparation was made easier as presentation slides required only the key points of certain models to refer to in discussion. As Vevox is software based, students did not require the use of so-called ‘Clickers’ to participate. These clickers are an additional cost to university’s and require maintenance and safe-keeping. With Vevox, students can use their own personal mobile device or laptop. As Anya was participating remotely, connecting was simple with the use of Skype.

Trevor commented, “I have worked with Anya on developing the Skype call to a fine art! In order to eliminate travel time and expense, Anya has more than once skyped her presence into the lecture room directly from her home location. By using Vevox on her tablet device, next to her computer, she has access to all student comments as they are typed by the students. She is therefore able to have control over which questions to answer”.

Easy and quick to download the Vevox app is perfect for students to use to engage during classes. Trevor explains, “Traditionally, in education we have used the tried and tested ‘raise your hand if you have a question’ format to allow students to communicate with the speaker. This can be successful in some contexts, although it is easy to fall into the illusion that you are giving full opportunity to all students to ask questions and express their views. This is not so.”

During discussions, students leaving questions or comments on the Vevox discussion board could keep their identity private with Vevox’s anonymous mode and have the ability to ‘vote-up’ comments or questions from other participants with the new ‘Like’ feature, recently added to Vevox. This feature is proving very popular in education environments.

The Results

Vevox offered these students the opportunity to ask questions that were very honest and quite hard-hitting, and allowed exploration of some of the most sensitive aspects of PPI.

Anya adds, “It enabled the students to ask questions of my experience comfortably, which meant they were acknowledging the assets I brought as a patient, and allowed me to acknowledge their assets by hearing their experiences, again modeling an assets based approach which they might be unfamiliar with, in a safe way.”
Across both sessions, there was an average of 90 discussion posts per session, with polls being utilized throughout to gauge topic understanding and gather opinions.

Both Trevor and Anya reported a very high level of engagement with the app, and the feedback from students was overwhelming positive. Summing up the main benefits of using Vevox, students felt that using the app was helpful for those who are not comfortable speaking out in class and increases confidence to ask questions that might be ‘silly’. Vevox also offers the opportunity to hear what other people think through the polling and Q&A functionality and helps to keep the conversation honest and unbiased, whilst respecting potentially conflicting views or opinions with the option of anonymity.

“It changed the dynamic from a lecturer knows best preaching to students, to a more equal relationship of mutual interest and appreciation. This felt important as it directly models the behavior shift central to person-centered care and patient partnerships at all levels.” - Anya

Trevor concludes, “What implications are there for PPI in healthcare education? Combining technology in creative ways to enhance and enable a deeper level of patient involvement within a lecture environment can enhance a deeper learning within students, in my opinion. Patient involvement in healthcare education is here to stay…Using technology, we can enhance the ability of patient leaders such as Anya to question and ask students to think about the issues that matter to patients and to take PPI into more strategic levels where real change can occur.”