Both the student and lecturer UniDoodle apps are available for use on iOS and Android-based devices. The student app is free to download. The lecturer app is currently not available but can be requested on a trial basis. UniDoodle is currently undergoing possible commercialisation and we hope that this process will be completed by early 2017.
The UniDoodle Student response system contains two apps, a student app and a lecturer (or teacher) app. The student app allows students to respond to questions using the medium of sketches. The lecturer app, known as UniDoodle Teach, allows the lecturer to receive multiple sketch-based responses from a classroom of students in a simple and efficient grid-based form. An editing mode is also available allowing the lecturer to annotate any of the student responses if need be (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 – UniDoodle Viewing (left) and Editing (right) Lecturer App
Lecturers also use this app to send questions to students. UniDoodle contains a template feature which allows lecturers to prepare questions in advance of class. Lecturers can now pre-prepare questions and arrange them into various folders for ease of management. For example, a lecturer could have a different folder for each module they teach. Furthermore, diagrams can be created on a PC using any suitable drawing package, saved as jpegs, and uploaded to the database (see Figure 2). This allows for more detailed and accurate diagrams to be used as the basis of questions.
Figure 2 – UniDoodle Template manager (left) and Developer (right)
Finally, the lecturer app controls the overall UniDoodle system. Students can only respond to a question when prompted to do so by the lecturer. Otherwise their app remains inactive.
Watch this 1.43min YouTube video for a short demonstration of the UniDoodle system in operation.
A quick introduction to the authors – the UNIDOODLE TEAM
Dr. Séamus McLoone & Christine Kelly ¦ Dept. of Electronic Engineering, Maynooth University, ¦
Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Seamus is a lecturer in the department and initially came up with the concept of UniDoodle after using an alternative student response system that only allowed for multiple-choice selection. He is keenly interested in incorporating technology into the classroom environment with a view to improving and enhancing the student learning experience.
Christine is the lead programmer on the UniDoodle project and responsible for its current design and implementation. Her interests lie in emerging mobile technologies and UX design.
To date, UniDoodle has been used in our BE in Electronic Engineering 4-year programme in Maynooth by both first and second year students. It also been used in the School of Electronic Engineering in DCU by a cohort of first year Engineering Mathematics students.
The Case Study
We employed UniDoodle over the course of an entire semester in a first year Electronic Engineering module in Maynooth University. The module in question was entitled “Introduction to Systems and Control” and, as the title suggests, introduces the students to the basic concepts and principles behind engineering systems and the control of such systems. Most of these concepts are new to the students. In addition, the module has quite a significant mathematical content associated with it. The module involves approximately 20 lectures, a small number of tutorial classes and 4 sets of laboratories.
In order to fully integrate UniDoodle into the classroom learning environment, we had to modify the existing teaching approach. All lectures were split into two parts – the first half of the classroom period followed normal practice and focused on covering a particular topic or sub-topic; the second half then made used of UniDoodle for the purposes of gauging how well the students grasped the knowledge that had just been presented. This approach also helped re-enforce the material for the students, while providing formative feedback to the lecturer.
One example question we used in the classroom is shown in Figure 3. Here, students are presented with a physical model of a conventional mass-spring-damper system and asked to sketch the free body diagram for this system. This is typically followed by a second question that requires students to obtain the mathematical model from the resulting free body diagram. A sample of the student responses to this question are shown in Figure 4.
Figure 3 Figure 4
The sample question shown clearly illustrates the need for the sketch-based capabilities that UniDoodle offers. Furthermore, the student responses to such questions clearly illustrate how we now have access to more detailed information than existing response systems, such as Clickers, allow. For example, we can see if each student has correctly included all the relevant forces on the free body diagram. Moreover, we can see if they have properly orientated each of these forces. While such questions relate to the ‘Introduction to Systems and Control’ module, it is easy to see how questions from other Engineering-based modules and, indeed, STEM disciplines in general, can be accommodated in the UniDoodle response system. Arguably, the UniDoodle has an even wider appeal and could be used in a vast range of disciplines, as well as across the secondary and primary educational spectrum.
We found that this ‘new’ teaching approach worked really well. Firstly, the use of UniDoodle was enjoyable and highly rewarding. It broke up the traditional teaching style of lecturing to the students and reduced any risk of monotony. It certainly promoted a lot more interaction within the classroom and allowed for numerous opportunities for discussion via feedback given in reaction to student responses.
More importantly, however, we found the use of UniDoodle very beneficial in the sense that it provided the insight to the students’ knowledge that we had hoped for. It allowed us to illustrate to the students the mistakes that are so often made. In the past, we could always tell the students what the common mistakes were, but now the students get to visually see the mistakes for themselves. This offered significantly more beneficial insight to the students as they were instantly able to experience the mistakes for themselves. Follow-up questions using UniDoodle generally showed that most students had indeed learned from their mistakes and did not repeat them in later questions.
We also found that the approach of splitting each lecture hour into two parts, as previously outlined, worked well. The students were more focused in the earlier part, knowing that they would be asked questions on the material in the second half of the class. This approach also helped re-enforce the information for the students by having them carry out actual questions in a live classroom environment.
Finally, we found that we were able to work through the full content of the taught module within the given time period, albeit that we were now using less ‘lecturing’ time in each class. We feel that the key reason for this was that we provided students with the full, printed set of notes. In the past, students were only given a partial set of notes and were required to fill out the blank sections. By providing the complete set of notes, students did not spend time transcribing, and we were able to work through various topics and concepts in a more efficient manner. Moreover, we had the luxury of knowing that the students would be revisiting the same information in the latter half of the class, and do so in a more interactive and engaging manner.
Student feedback was obtained via focus groups. The feedback was very positive and students were completely in favour of using UniDoodle. They liked the anonymity of the system, stating that
“Unidoodle lets you be anonymous and you can be free and still get the feedback without anyone knowing.”
Students felt that they engaged more in class with one student noting that
“you want to pay more attention in class because you know” the lecturer “is going to ask questions at the end and you want to look at the board and know you got something right.”
Students also noted that UniDoodle allowed for more insightful information for the lecturer and, hence, more relevant feedback for the students –
“it lets you know if you know your stuff or not” and “the feedback will be specific and I’ll see where I went wrong.”
Finally, some students appreciated the formative nature of the feedback stating that
“with a lot of other modules, it’s part of your continuous assessment, with this it doesn’t affect your grade and you’re not as reluctant to put an answer down.”
A word of advice for any would-be-users – While using UniDoodle has many benefits, as evident from above, it is important that any would-be-users spend some time using the system before employing it in a classroom environment. The system itself is relatively easy to use, but you need to get accustomed to the type of questions that work on UniDoodle. Always keep in mind that students are using their smart phones to respond to questions and therefore have a small screen size to work with. The student app does support zoom capabilities but this does not properly compensate for the benefits of a larger screen. In addition, UniDoodle works over wifi and therefore it’s important to have a good wifi connection in the classroom.
UniDoodle is an ongoing project and we are always trying to improve the system based on feedback obtained from our colleagues and peers. UniDoodle currently only supports anonymous responses, but we do hope that a future version of UniDoodle will cater for both anonymous and non-anonymous responses as the latter would potentially allow the use of UniDoodle for summative assessment.
Please feel free to tweet a comment or observation regarding UniDoodle to #12appsDIT and @SeamusMcLoone and/or post a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We’d love to hear your thoughts and views on UniDoodle and on how we might improve it going forward.
For more detailed information on the use and evaluation of UniDoodle, please read some of our published work on the topic:
- McLoone, S.C., Kelly, C. and Brennan, C. 2016, “UniDoodle: a Multi-platform smart device student response system – evaluated in an Engineering Mathematics Classroom”, The 18th SEFI Mathematics Working Group Seminar, Gothenburg, Sweden, 27-29th
- McLoone, S.C., Villing, R. and O’Keeffe, S. (2015) Using mobile touch devices to provide flexible classroom assessment techniques, International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction (IJHMCI), Oct-Dec 2015, 7(4), pp. 1-15.
- McLoone, S.C., Villing, R. and O’Keeffe, S. (2015) A novel smart device student response system for supporting high quality active learning in the Engineering and Science disciplines, All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (AISHE-J), Spring 2015, 7(2), pp. 207.1-207.18.
An Optional Task for You:
Download the student app to your chosen device. On 2nd Dec 2016, any time from 10am – 11am or 2pm – 3pm (GMT), log in with the following Session Code: SML.XMAS, and complete the mystery task. Be sure to submit your response!