Dublin City University (DCU)
Learn how DCU have boosted engagement & improved interactivity in classes through using Vevox – and see how their Students’ Union are using Vevox as a voting tool.
DCU’s partnership with Vevox
Based on the northside of Dublin, Ireland, and home to over 19,000 students, Dublin City University (DCU) opened its doors in 1980 and now sits inside the top 500 Universities in the world.
DCU have been using Vevox since early 2020, following the findings of a national survey that was conducted across all staff and students in Ireland in 2019. The aim of the survey was to understand how they felt around their digital experience of teaching and learning. Rob Lowney, learning technologist at DCU, along with his team looked at their staff findings and it became clear that staff were using various different types of polling and audience engagement tools.
Rob and the wider team then understood that there was a clear appetite for an audience engagement tool, so decided to pilot a central institutional tool and as a result, began the rollout of Vevox.
Vevox’s level of support, training material and helpfulness is one the best I’ve ever encountered from an ed tech vendor.
Vevox launched in UK
Polls created by users
Introducing Vevox as a centralised polling tool
Rob works in a central unit at the University and provides support, guidance and professional development to all lecturers at DCU to help them develop their teaching practice. He has a particular interest in helping lecturers utilise learning technologies within their teaching to enhance student learning experience.
Rob is always driven by pedagogy first, and is careful not to just adopt whichever new tech comes to the fore. He first became aware of Vevox in 2018 at the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) conference, where Vevox was a sponsor. Rob used Vevox while at ALT as an attendee, and was struck by how user friendly and simple it was to use, which is super important for staff and students.
Rob’s head of unit at DCU had also used Vevox before, and they were both impressed that Vevox was being used at ALT – if a leading association is using it, then you know it’s a good tool. DCU had never had an institutional polling tool however because of the 2019 survey, Rob and the team were aware that lecturers had individually been using various solutions in the past. It wasn’t entirely clear to Rob exactly what all the tools were that the staff were using, and whether they were using free or paid tools. As a result, they knew they needed to trial a centralised solution and began a Vevox pilot in early 2020.
What does Rob like about Vevox?
There are over 200 active Vevox users at DCU, and a lot of the things Rob likes about Vevox are shared amongst the wider team and staff at the University, as annual evaluations of Vevox show.
Ease of use
Both lecturers and students find Vevox very easy to use and Rob particularly likes the design and interface of the tool. For Rob, these are vital features as when you are using technology in a teaching session to enhance learning, you need the tool to be simple to use so that students use their mental energy on answering questions, rather than figuring out how the tool works.
Partnership with the Vevox team
Rob and fellow staff at DCU really appreciate the high level of support provided for them by the Vevox team. They get a sense of partnership with the Vevox team and feel that Vevox really want staff and students at DCU to have a great experience while using the tool, with advice and help always on hand.
Vevox’s level of support, training material and helpfulness is one of the best I've ever encountered from an ed tech vendor
Overall, Rob really likes the benefits that Vevox brings to teaching and learning, and the insights that it can provide lecturers with.
Polling is prominent
Polling is by and large the most prominent feature used by teaching staff at DCU, and Rob says that there are a few reasons why.
As the person leading the deployment of Vevox at DCU, Rob was conscious that this new tool was introduced slowly and surely to lecturers. He wanted to make sure he didn’t throw too much too soon at the lecturers, so initially solely focused on promoting the polling aspect of Vevox.
Rob’s thinking behind this was that he knew lecturers really wanted to test students understanding and listen to their opinions – and these are a couple of the fundamental engagement strategies that polls cater for.
Slowly and surely however, Rob is now seeing other features such as Q&A and surveys being used more widely – and Rob himself now implements the survey feature in Vevox while he is teaching himself, opening it up at the end of a session to receive some real time, immediate feedback on how the session went.
Anonymity boosts engagement
By and large, Rob believes that anonymity is the biggest feature that helps to boost student engagement. At DCU, Vevox is set to anonymous by default and Rob knows from looking into educational literature in this area, that when students have that safety of anonymity, they’re much more likely to engage & provide honest, authentic responses.
Students feel confident to answer questions when they are not identified as they are comfortable knowing even if they get a question wrong, they won’t be identified, or categorised as being wrong. Rob feels that this ability to be anonymous gives students great safety to answer freely – particularly when being asked open ended questions.
Vevox provides a great level playing field for everybody, everyone can have their voice heard
Rob also feels that anonymity has been really important in catering for diversity, as it allows students from all backgrounds and abilities to be involved.
Higher involvement in large classes
Before they had access to Vevox at DCU, some lecturers would find it difficult to get students to engage in large classes, and lecturers would sometimes feel very distant from the students as a result. Rob says that at times it can be difficult for lecturers to gauge understanding in a large lecture hall, but through using Vevox students become more engaged.
Previously, lecturers wouldn’t have been able to gain insights so easily and readily without Vevox
Rob also thinks that Vevox is great at helping students engage no matter if they’re being taught online or in person. Lecturers are now able to get a high level of engagement, and when different opinions in a large class can be collated and shared, the whole group benefits and greater learning happens as a result.
Additionally, Rob says that Vevox also importantly gives lecturers insights into how students are learning, what topics they find difficult and much more – meaning lecturers can plan and adapt their teaching accordingly, shifting things around to ensure they are meeting their students’ needs.
Students’ Union utilising Vevox
As the COVID-19 pandemic moved into a new phase, on-campus learning resumed for most students, but some still needed to stay at home. As a result, DCU’s Students’ Union started hosting their class rep council in a hybrid fashion – with some attendees in a lecture theatre and the rest joining remotely via Zoom.
They chose to use Vevox as a voting tool when voting on motions and propositions as this allowed all of the class reps, no matter were they were joining from, to participate and vote on whichever motion or proposal was being put to the council.
Rob says it was great to see Vevox being used in a setting that he hadn’t originally envisaged – and felt this highlighted how positively Vevox has been received by students, who clearly see the value of the tool and want to apply it in different contexts and situations.
Students’ feelings on Vevox echo the sentiment from all lecturers – they really like the tool and enjoy the classes where Vevox is used. Vevox gives a renewed energy in the class and breaks up the monotony of simple transmission learning
Interested in learning more about how your University could be using Vevox to increase in-class interactivity and enhance engagement? Read our other Education Stories here.