E-Qual – new app to teach coding of qualitative data

E-Qual App ScreenshotThe aim of most undergraduate research methods courses is to introduce students to the theory and techniques associated with quantitative and qualitative research.

However, teaching such skills can be challenging, particularly when instructing large groups of students; the topics covered can be diverse and the subjective nature of qualitative coding can prove difficult for some students to comprehend.

E-Qual (see screenshot above) is a free interactive iPad app available on the App Store. Developed by Dr Hilary McDermott, it aims to address some of these challenges by demonstrating the basic concept of coding qualitative data.  In addition to an instructive screencast, students are provided with the opportunity to code a section of data themselves and compare their coding with that of the researcher. In using ‘E-Qual’ to support their independent learning and understanding of the thematic coding process, it is anticipated that students will be able to develop understanding and confidence in their analytic approach to handling qualitative data.  The app offers students a technology-supported learning environment to compliment the teaching of thematic qualitative coding which can be used at any time within any setting.

This teaching aid could potentially support thousands of students within the UK and elsewhere internationally. It offers an additional teaching and learning resource which will complement direct, face-to-face teaching of qualitative research methods across the Social Sciences.

E-Qual had initial seed funding from a University Teaching Innovation Award with further funding from the Enterprise Office.

Using mobile devices to enhance fieldwork

Prof. Derek France from the University of Chester will be visiting the Geography Department on Wednesday 21st January to share his considerable experience of using technology to enhance student learning.

Derek will be leading a hands-on seminar: ‘Enhancing fieldwork learning with Mobile devices’. This will take place from 14:00-16:00 on Wednesday 21st Jan, location TBC. Although the event is focused on geography teaching, it is open to all staff with an interest in fieldwork or the use of mobile devices.

Derek is a National Teaching Fellow and Professor of Pedagogy in Geographical Sciences. He is the director of the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning project http://www.enhancingfieldwork.org.uk/ The seminar will be of value for anyone who is or is considering undertaking student fieldwork. Even if you don’t yet use mobile technology in your teaching the case for doing so is growing rapidly. This seminar should help to give you a route into starting to understand how you might integrate such an approach into your teaching. It will cover both human and physical geography uses. The seminar will also be of use to those who might consider using such approaches in classroom teaching.

Please contact Dr Jon Millett to book your place. Numbers will be limited.

iPads in teaching

Over the last year we’ve been looking at different ways in which tablets can be used in learning and teaching. Last autumn we held a tablets workshop at which Ola Aiyegbayo from the University of Huddersfield gave a presentation based on his research project in this area.

He’s just released an infographic animation setting out his findings. You can view this on Vimeo below.


iPad Research Study Animation from Olaojo Aiyegbayo on Vimeo.

Potential problem using TurnItIn's iPad App

Rob Howe from Northampton University reports a problem with the TurnItIn iPad app which results in loss of data.  The full description is in this blog posting

Essentially, if the iPad user changes their iPad profile during a marking session, they will lose the data already marked, because the iPad thinks it belongs to somebody else.  The data cannot be recovered.

Rob’s advice – to make sure you sync the data often, particularly at the start of a session – seems sound.


Free Apps for New iDevices

Did you know that if you activated your iDevice on or after 1 September 2013 then you can download six key Apple applications (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, iPhoto and GarageBand) for free? These apps would normally set you back just over £25.
All you need to do is register the serial number of your device within your Apple profile and then search for the apps via the App Store on your device and it should become available to you to download for free. I (well my husband) was lucky enough to benefit from this offer on his recent iPad Air purchase. These apps are equivalent to the Microsoft Office suite of products such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Note that GarageBand is free on the App Store for all iOS 7–compatible devices, not just those registered on or after 1 September 2013.



Bringing Poetry to Life

Clare Hutton demonstrating The Waste Land app

Before the holidays, I attended part of a lecture by Clare Hutton from the English and Drama department who showcased The Waste Land app to her students. Clare is one of the recipients of a loan iPad and has been trialling it in a Teaching and Learning environment.

For students studying TS Elliott’s notable poem, the app is well worth the cost of £9.99. With the inclusion of recorded readings, performance of the text and line-by-line notes this app truly brings the poem to life and adds an extra dimension which will help students and anyone who wants to understand the work in more depth.

LectureTools in use

Chris Szejnmann LectureToolsI’ve previously posted about LectureTools, an online alternative to electronic voting systems such as Turning Point which use dedicated ‘clickers’. We currently have a site licence for LectureTools on a trial basis. The company, spun out of the University of Michigan, is now owned by Echo360 which provides the hardware and software behind our ReVIEW lecture capture service.

There are now several academics actively using LectureTools, including Andy Bayley (School of Business and Enterprise) and Prof Chris Szejnmann (Politics, History and International Relations – pictured here). Chris was, with his colleague Dr Marcus Collins, one of the pioneers of lecture capture at Loughborough back in 2009, on the same ‘Modern Europe’ module where he has now started using LectureTools.

The system, which is now integrated into Learn (our Moodle installation), allows Chris to upload his lecture Powerpoint presentation, add question slides of various types, and link it to the module page on Learn.

Students bring their laptops and tablets into the lecture theatre, log into Learn, follow the link to the presentation, and can then respond to questions as and when appropriate – using their own devices rather than University-owned clickers. This is potentially more convenient for all concerned, but in addition it makes it possible to ask students to submit text responses. They can even indicate privately to the lecturer if they find a slide confusing. They can also make, save and print out their notes online next to the appropriate slide.

The feedback so far from Chris and Andy, and from students themselves, has been positive, although there have been one or two technical issues which we’d hope to iron out as we build up experience of using the system.

Chris’ comment to me after his first lecture (which I sat in on) was that “this is a gamechanger”. I agree – especially when it is integrated into the Echo360 lecture capture system, as the company are planning for next year. Students will then be able to view their notes after the lecture against the appropriate segment of the captured lecture.


XLR Audio into iPad



For those of you who are more adventurous and have wondered if it were possible to have an XLR audio input to an iPad then the answer is yes. As you probably know there appears to be only a headphone out on an iPad but no mic input.

However the headphone out can be used as a mic input with the right connection.  A company called IK Multimedia produce a device called iRig.

This little device sells for £23.99 on Amazon and is easy to set up. Its powered by a Duracell 9V or similar. You can hook up any professional device i.e. the Sennheiser radio mic receivers for classroom/lecture room recording. It even has 48V Phantom power which allows a huge number of condenser mics to be used. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone socket.

First impression: very good for the price. No distortion, clean sound, excellent for lecture recordings. No software needed unless you want it but you do get access to a couple of Apps which I haven’t used.

I used it with the App ‘Explain Everything’ and all worked well.

Miracasting from Android devices

Miracasting from Android devices

In parallel with the Tablets in Teaching project, we have also been evaluating various Android devices as alternatives to Apple iPads.

With the advent of Android 4.2, it has been possible to wirelessly project an Android screen onto an HDMI display.  By this we mean that anything on the mobile device’s display is replicated on the remote display.

Whereas the Apple AirPlay solution requires access to an established network to function – with all the procedural problems that can entail – Miracasting sets up its own mini-network between the mobile device and the receiving dongle plugged into the remote display.  This is more hassle-free than AirPlay and is independent of the podium PC in a lecture theatre – modern podiums have an HDMI input socket which can be used if you don’t have direct access to the display’s connections.

We tested two source devices and two receivers.  Both sources worked well with both displays and were able to display wirelessly whilst running live BBC iPlayer over WiFi.  However, the phone’s SIMs had to be turned off to force it to use WiFi, otherwise iPlayer slowed down to a crawl.

We used the second source device to attempt to hi-jack the remote display.  In no case did this succeed, so even if students have Miracast-equipped devices in the lecture, they may be able to see the receiver but not connect to it.

We used a tablet and a smartphone, with each of the two receivers.

Google Nexus 7

Butterfly 920

Android version




WiFi, Bluetooth

WiFi, Bluetooth, 2 SIMs

Native display

7”, 1920 x 1080 HD

5”, 1280 x 720

Remote display 1

22” Iiyama HD widescreen monitor

Remote display 2

Podium HDMI connector to HD data projector

Remote display 3

42” Brockington study pod HDTV


The two receivers were a Phone2tv dongle (eBay, £32) and a Netgear Push2tv dongle (Amazon, £60).  In both cases a USB connection is needed to provide power to the receiver and both had extension cables so that the dongle did not need to be physically attached to the display.

Of the two, the Phone2tv receiver was slightly quicker to set up but the Netgear was slightly better at buffering the incoming data stream, so played with fewer jerky interruptions.

Both devices carry audio as well as video.



In use, the HDMI and USB connections are made and the Wireless Display settings used on the source device to initiate the connection.  In the example shown, the Aux HDMI input has been selected to feed the graphics through to the data projector.  The other sources – PC, Laptop, Visualizer and Blu-Ray player are still available and can be selected as usual.

The wireless display link works up to at least 5 metres from the receiver, giving the presenter the freedom to move around and interact with the class.


Keep taking the tablets

Tablets workshop 16 Oct 2013Our first ‘Tablets in Learning and Teaching’ workshop took place this week, with around 25 people dropping in at one point or another, including external presenters Dave Foord from the Tablet Academy and Ola Aiyegbayo from the University of Huddersfield.

We heard from Sara Ronca and Clare Hutton how they have been using their loan iPads so far this semester – with benefits and issues being apparent. We’ve been blogging over the summer about different techniques for ‘mirroring’ the display on the teaching room projector, and it’s clear that this is an area where glitches can occur. Clare talked, inter alia, about the Wasteland app she’s been using (ie relating to T S Eliot’s poem), and this looks fantastic – potentially transformative for teaching, in the way it makes it possible to navigate the text and brings in other media elements. Sara has been making use of the annotation capabilities of the iPad using a stylus.

Dave talked about his experiences of the primary, secondary and FE sectors, which are arguably ahead of HE in this area. We saw some inspiring examples of imaginative work created by children using a variety of iPad apps.

Ola presented early findings from his BJET project at Huddersfield, as well as looking at ways of categorising the use of tablets in teaching and learning. The key take-home message was that it’s not enough for institutions to simply hand out tablets to staff; in addition to technical set-up advice, staff need longer-term support in making the most of the technology, or they will either not use it or use it in ways which replicate what they have already been doing.

We’ll be organising further events on this theme over the course of the year.