Every wondered what everyone in your class or meeting was thinking about a topic, but never felt you could get a good feel for what they were thinking because only a few attendees would answer your questions? You might think to use a classroom response system or “clicker,” but what if you don’t have the money for a system? I’ve actually been using two methods. I have a classroom response system and regularly use my classroom response system, ActiveInspire from Promethean but I also use a free-ish service known as Poll Everywhere. I say free-ish because it is free for up to 30 responses per question, so for most school classrooms this is perfect. If you are looking to poll larger audiences there is a fee attached.
I like both systems, Poll Everywhere and my hardware based Promethean system. However, there is something about Poll Everywhere that makes it more accessible to more students and more teachers. Students typically respond using a text message, however there are options to respond via the Poll Everywhere website via a question specific URL or through services such as Twitter or various smartphones. Poll Everywhere also allows for questions to be integrated into a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation with responses pulled live from PollEverywhere’s website (or they can be viewed live on the website.)
The questions are easy to set up and manage and the instructions for replying to questions are relatively easy to understand (you wouldn’t think you would have to explain texting to teenagers but they have messed it up a few times!) Each question has a unique keyword so responses end up where they are supposed to go. There are multiple types of questions MC, text, etc. There are also several different formats for showing student responses (the one shown here is the standard setting.)
Here are a few ways I have been using them in my classes (and one video example.)
- I use daily journals in each of my classes and I typically only call on a few students to share their responses (using the Class Cards iPhone App to randomly select students and track their participation points for journals), but on days that I want to see what everyone has answered I use Poll Everywhere. It is quicker than getting out and setting up the classroom clickers if we aren’t using them that day.
- I used Poll Everywhere before I got text response clickers. If I had a question somewhere in the lesson I would let students respond using Poll Everywhere.
- One use I really like is having students give responses to questions or ask their own questions about reading assignments or the like OUTSIDE of class. Every teacher has been there when you’ve given an assignment and on the following day ask, “Do you have any questions?” and you only get blank stares or one word responses. This way students respond while they are reading, it has helped to get more thoughtful responses and more meaningful questions.
I am looking for a few more ways to use this service in my classes. Again, one of my major goals is to use technology like this to connect with students outside of the classroom and at the point where learning or questions happen, even though I am not physically present.
Any suggestions about how else to use this tool?