Ask your student questions and get immediate feedback.
Student response systems (SRS) commonly known as “clickers” are an excellent tool to gauge the understanding of your students during a lecture or class presentation. A really good system could easily run over $1000. However, there is an alternative for the educator on a budget. The frosting on the cake is that is won’t cost you anything more than the time to develop the content.
Poll Everywhere is an online polling service that allows you to take advantage of the text messaging capabilities of your student’s phones to function as a very effective SRS. The method of use is incredibly easy, especially since almost all of your students will be very comfortable with text messaging. You ask your student a question, they respond with a text and the results are almost instantly displayed on the screen in the form of a bar graph showing all the selected answers. Although I mostly use multiple choice formats, free text response is available as well. These questions can be embedded directly within your Power Point presentation with no need to leave the presentation to visit an additional website. There is no limit in the number of surveys you might wish to create. It even works if you are teaching your classes via distance delivery!
All responses are anonymous. One of the best features of this online service is that it will allow students who tend to be more introverted to actively take part in feedback without the possibility of being embarrassed. In addition students can respond by visiting a specific website to make their selection as well as by Twitter. Poll Everywhere includes settings that prohibit students from participating in a particular question more than once. This would be very important in gauging class comprehension.
Uses in the classroom are many. For example, beyond the obvious use, should you decide to utilize a Millionaire type game, this site would be ideal for the lifeline “poll the audience.”
There are some limitations. The free version limits you to 40 students. The 41st student will get a message back saying, “This poll is full and cannot accept more responses”. For most classrooms, this isn’t a problem, but should you decide to use this at a regional or national seminar, you might run into some problems. There is a premium version for a monthly fee, although I have never run into the need to upgrade. As of the writing of this post, the process only works within PowerPoint, although site administrators can log into the site to view responses directly.
To learn more, visit the Poll Everywhere Demonstration Video. I have used this service for many years. It is one of the simplest and cheapest (you can’t beat free) classroom response systems available.