Mentimeter is a student response system that enables anyone presenting to a group (and this includes students) to invite interactions from the audience/ participants from simple social media icons (e.g. thumbs up/ down) through to a range of closed question formats all the way up to open questions and more complex data gathering tools. At UCL we use it for teaching, students are using it increasingly for their own presentations and data gathering and we also often use it as a tool to facilitate Continuous Module Dialogue (CMD). Whilst the response from both staff and students has been almost overwhelmingly positive there have been a few occurrences of infantile responses from some students when presented with open contribution formats and one or two occasions of very inappropriate use. This is of course completely unacceptable, and this post is designed to help you to know how to prevent it from occurring.
Mentimeter was chosen in part as a tool to benefit both staff and students as it is a means of increasing levels of engagement. The (mostly) anonymous contributions by participants is a key part of its engagement increasing appeal so is a boon though also offers potential for abuse when open questions are used without sufficient preparedness. Mentimeter offers 10 question formats, 2 quiz question formats and 9 slide types. Of these 3 question types are open text and one quiz is open text. For this reason my advice is to explore the potentials of the closed questions first! The following advice will also help you avoid attempts to subvert/ challenge/ cause mischief/ offend:
Know your group and make a judgement about likelihood of abuse (from larking about to offensiveness; forewarned is forearmed). There do seem to be particular contexts where these sorts of behaviours might be more likely, such as where rapport has not yet built between students and lecturer. I’d urge colleagues to hope for the best but prepare for the worst the first few times. It is fair to say that as a broad principle you are more likely to witness inappropriate behaviour in a level 4 group you do not know than a level 6 group where you are working with your own tutees.
First few live uses: only use closed options. There is a LOT more than multiple choice on offer and great value/ discussions can be built around the use of these question types. If you have any uncertainty, stick to these.
Open text can layer on a lot though so I recommend couching first use with a warning delivered with just the right balance of smile and menace (!). My suggested wording:
What you say here is as if you stood on a chair and shouted it out loud. What amuses you could, potentially, lead to your expulsion and affect your career. Your ‘joke’ we have certainly heard before and, really, is it worth the risk? Also consider context of university versus, say, year 10 or 11 where you might expect such attention seeking behaviour. Such abuses will likely lead to suspension of trust implicit in giving you the chance to voice your ideas and this impacts everyone.
Use the profanity filter, but be aware of its limitations. A recent case reported to Mentimeter led to considerable work on their part to expand their English dictionary but, of course, to use a colleague’s excellent phrase: “creative fools” can find ways round this. There are many languages in the profanity filter but it is not exhaustive. Better to have it on than off. It is off by default.
Manage open-text contributions using the following two options:
Word cloud and speech bubbles- blank main screen and monitor from the connected computer- close voting then hover/ click to delete inappropriate words or to have delete option on speech bubbles.
Use the ‘Mentimote’ tool. This is a presentation tool that you access on a second device (e.g. laptop or smart phone). With it you can navigate slides (like a clicker), open and close voting and moderate comments.
Alternatively, do not use word clouds or bubbles but use the Q&A and couple its use with Mentimote.
This post accompanies a short presentation as part of the University of Kent Digital Education Webinar series by Martin Compton (UCL Arena) and the LTHEChat #251 (11/1/23) . In it are resources referred to in these events. But please do read and try the linked activities for yourself even if you are not attending!The resource is designed to raise awareness of what digital accessibility means and what a ‘by design’ approach to digital accessibility requires us to know and to do. The session is also an opportunity for us to pilot aspects of an (in-development) Accessibility Engagement Tool with colleagues beyond the walls of UCL. The tool is being designed to help colleagues discuss their accessibility engagement and get clear direction on what they can do to further improve the accessibility of their teaching and, as far as possible in an anticipatory and planned way, rather than reactively or in response to a need that had not been anticipated. The goal is to enable colleagues to set some clear digital accessibility goals irrespective of their starting point.
Accessibility in its broadest sense is about making activities, environments, and information as useable and meaningful as possible in ways that do not exclude people. It is about empowerment, about minimising frustration and about effective anticipatory design. Digital accessibility therefore ‘provides ramps and lifts into information.’ It includes ensuring that all information we create at UCL can be seamlessly consumed by everyone that wishes to access it. As UCL’s digital accessibility policy is rolled out, we are using this framework so that we can help demystify aspects of digital accessibility
The accessibility engagement model and accompanying self-assessment tool are being designed to enable colleagues to plot their own level according to a series of questions about aspects of digital accessibility. The idea will be that through series of questions related to:
Values and beliefs
Knowledge and skills
Actions and behaviours
…the tool will plot an overall position as well as noting areas of developmental or resourcing need. As we have shaped this model one area that has led to much discussion, consultation and head scratching are the labels we are appending to levels. As a starting point we propose six levels of ‘maturity status’ and invite colleagues to decide which level they are currently at:
Accessibility Engagement Model
Accessibility Maturity Status
Characteristics and indicative practices
Context means that this is not prioritised in current working environment given competing commitments and pressures.
Time is a key point of resistance.
Don’t know where to start and/or in need of direction, support, and prioritisation.
Awareness of accessibility principles and drivers; only adopting bare minimum when encouraged.
Awareness of accessibility design principles; willingly adopting good basic level of accessibility.
Connected to wider pedagogical values; allies are vocal on behalf of students. Role model or provide case studies/ templates for others in their departments.
Champion and Co-creator
Activists/ innovators who work with students to understand and design more accessible approaches and resources. Potential contributors to institutional policy and strategy.
Digital accessibility behaviours
Whilst the questions and tool are still under construction, for now we invite colleagues to use the Mentimeter linked below to respond briefly to some ‘actions / behaviours’ statements.
If colleagues wish to use the slides as they are then you will need a Mentimeter account. If you are logged into it you can then open the cumulative results slides and ‘copy to your account’ . If not, please do use the questions as framed and/ or await our proposed online tool.
As we stumble blinking into a landscape that is both utterly familiar but also forever changed as a consequence of the pandemic, we find that discussions about teaching modalities, pedagogic practices and assessment design– and the role that tech has to play in all of those – can be polarising and fractious. So much has changed in terms of what we understand about modalities and digital educationand we are keen to capture and share colleagues’ thoughts, ideas and innovations in a range of ways. In addition to the more formal channels (such as conferences and publications) the Digital Education and Arena teams propose a regular series of informal sharing and discussion events. These will be mix of themed in-person, online and hybrid events where the emphasis is not on presentation but talking, sharing or brainstorming ideas. Sessions may be experimental, speculative, discursive and/ or evaluative. Above all, we want to create synchronous spaces (supported by a growing online resource bank) where we can subvert the usual CPD formats. Whether colleagues are experienced or complete novices, it is the coming together that is important. Whether you tend towards the sceptical or the evangelical or (more likely) sit somewhere between you will be welcome.
We really wanted the first of these sessions to be in-person but, I suppose inevitably in some ways, Covid made doubly sure it needed to be postponed by firstly quarantining me and then coinciding the Government’s latest ‘work from home if you can’ announcement for the day it was supposed to happen. Undaunted, though, we have a new date for the first session where the focus will be on mobile phones
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