Thursday, 28 April 2011

Feedback on the VOXUR video unit pilot

Feedback on VOXUR Unit loaned by T-SPARC to UG-Flex.


The T-SPARC project kindly loaned one of their VOXUR units to the UG-Flex project at the University of Greenwich over a two month period from December 2010 to January 2011. Oliver Jenkins from T-SPARC gave an introduction to the unit, guidance on usage and some top tips at a workshop at Greenwich in early December 2010, which was attended by 8 members of staff.

While on loan to the UG-Flex project the VOXUR was demonstrated and trialled at an e-centre meeting and by at least six members of staff on an ad hoc basis. The most concerted period of use was in January 2011 when it was used to collect feedback from students on assessment and feedback and over 270 clips of video feedback were collected.


Colleagues at Greenwich were invited to give feedback (in confidence) on the unit in particular on

1. Ease of use
2. Support/guidance/documentation requirements
3. Benefits and challenges of using video to collect information (i.e. feedback) compared to other methods questionnaires, focus groups etc
4. Benefits and challenges of using VOXUR unit specifically (compared to e.g. static units at one end to flip camera, hand held devices at the other)
5. Their plans for using the feedback
6. Other comments
1. Ease of Use
There was general agreement that the VOXUR was easy to use from the start (i.e. their first time). Increased use lead to greater familiarity with the unit.

One user (SUUG member of staff) who used the unit over a series of days observed of new users (students) that at first there was a tendency for them to look at the keyboard rather than at the camera.

2. Support/Guidance/Documentation Requirements

The view from Greenwich is that the guidance material produced by VOXUR (and supplied by BCU along with the unit) was very good. The tips from Oliver Jenkins were very helpful as well and provided a good perspective based on “hands on” experience.

Suggestions from users:

- Could Oliver’s tips be written up in a short “handy hints” guide?
- A very short document that summarises the main keys to use for key functions, possibly on laminated card, would be welcome.

3. Benefits and challenges of using video to collect information (i.e. feedback) compared to other methods questionnaires, focus groups etc

A key benefit noted is that the VOXUR unit offers a new method of engaging. The unit did elicit considerable interest among students and it was evident that students wanted to have a go.

The most extensive period of usage at Greenwich was with students and it was observed that while many users spoke freely, a significant number wanted clarification about how their feedback would be used. Some students did not want to be associated with specific comments they had made personally, which negated the impact of video capture somewhat. These students said that they were more comfortable being “generally” associated with the collective views expressed. On this note, only one student chose to cover the camera and record their views by audio alone.

A drawback noted by at least 3 users who tried out the unit was that the method of capturing feedback is relatively time consuming, although not substantially more so that other methods.

4. Benefits and challenges of using VOXUR unit specifically (compared to e.g. static units at one end to flip camera, hand held devices at the other)

It was observed that the portability of the VOXUR unit has pros and cons - a bigger unit would have been difficult to transport although students might have been more inclined to use a more enclosed unit.

From discussions among colleagues introduced to the VOXUR a view emerged of some risk that the VOXUR unit “over complicated” the method of capturing verbal feedback on video. One user commented “I would have been just as happy with a flip camera”.

Some reservation were expressed about how useful the VOXUR’s functionality to ask structured questions and organise the responses will prove to be as a method for capturing and conveying qualitative feedback from students. Given the relatively limited usage by Greenwich, it is not possible to comment with any certainty on the scope of the VOXUR to produce more quantitative outputs (e.g. statistical data). However, initial reaction is that this would not a preferred option.

5. Future use of information

The majority of users of the VOXUR took part in short trials which were not intended for future use.

The exercise to capture student feedback on assessment and feedback in which over 270 clips of video feedback were collected was undertaken as a pilot and the evidence will be used. The intention is to produce a short video compilation of no more than 2 – 3 minutes. (Some reservation was voiced about how easy it will be to compile a single video from the clips, say compared with editing and compiling a video clip from more free flowing feedback that has captured previously using a flip camera.)

In addition, the SU in collaboration with the EDU will look through the assembled clips in order to identify five or six key messages that will be used to inform future policy / activity.

6. Other comments

A number of observations were made on the VOXUR in terms of value for money:

One user commented “It is supposedly unique but I’m not sure how difficult it would be to replicate.... I just feel it is prohibitively expensive... the difference between a top of the range Mac and the VOXUR in terms of functionality and editing software just doesn’t seem to justify forking out another £4,000.”

Users at Greenwich concur that the VOXUR trial has been a very useful exercise and we would like to put on record our thanks to T-SPARC, Paul Bartholomew and Oliver Jenkins for their interest and generosity.