Student Response System (K-12): Part 3 Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is marketing itself to the education community as a cheaper alternative to buying proprietary clicker systems. There’s a lot to like about Poll Everywhere.

This post is the third post in a series about Using a Student Response System (SRS) in a K-12 classroom

  1. We’ve looked at using Twitter as a teaching tool, as well as using (eInstruction) clickers in the classroom.
  2. Today’s post is about considering Poll Everywhere as a clicker system.
  3. Dragon NaturallySpeaking was used to dictate this three-part series to the computer. There was a 98% word recognition rate when using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

Student Response System Part 3: Using Poll Everywhere (online) instead of real clickers

I really like clickers – they engage students in your classroom and provide immediate feedback.

  • A typical whole class instruction model has 1 teacher asking a question, 1 student answering the question, and the rest of the class listening.
  • With clickers, you can have 1 teacher asking a question, and the entire class responding at the same time.
  • Apparently, clickers improved student performance in a study at the University of British Columbia.

Poll Everywhere tries to offers everything online that a physical clicker student response system can offer:

  • You don’t need to buy proprietary clickers. Let’s say each clicker costs $100. A class set of 30 clickers is around $3000. If you’re using Poll Everywhere, then you’re not buying $3000 worth of clickers, but you are depending on existing school computers or student cell phones.
  • You don’t need to install proprietary software to use your clickers. Poll Everywhere lives in the internet cloud, so you can access the website anywhere that you can access the internet. That means that teachers can create lessons at home and at school without downloading or installing any sort of software.
  • Teacher accounts are free. You can ask as many questions as you want, but each question is limited to 40 responses. (In other words, you can have 40 students respond once, or 20 students respond twice, etc. You can also limit the maximum number of responses a person can submit, if you want.)
  • You need to upgrade to a premium Teacher account if you want to moderate student responses or aggregate student responses. If you want to moderate student responses before they appear on the big screen or if you want to be able to export your student answers (called grade reporting), then you need to upgrade to a premium plan ($50 per year for individual teacher accounts.)
  • If you pay for a premium account, you can also downgrade your plan. For example, I recently signed up for the presenter plan ($65 per month) because I was running a special activity where I wanted to have a poll with more than 40 responses at once. I paid the $65 and ran the activity (with a poll open to up to 250 responses.) After the event, I was able to downgrade to the regular individual teacher plan ($50 per year) without paying any additional fees. Now I have a year to decide how much I like the premium teacher features in Poll Everywhere. (It’s your responsibility to cancel before you get charged automatically, so don’t forget!)
  • You can keep your Poll Everywhere questions and answers private. Privacy is always something to think about when you’re storing information in the cloud. By default, your questions are public (and can be found by Google,) however, your results and responses are private. You can disable this and make your questions private as well just by going to the settings and checking off “keep all of my polls private.”  – of course if you share your secret poll web link or embed the poll widget into a website, then your private polls will become publicly accessible.

There are a few problems with using Poll Everywhere as a Student Response System in the classroom, especially in elementary classrooms.

  • Many primary and junior elementary students do not carry cell phones (or you’re not allowed to use a cell phone at school.) If you’re at a university lecture or running a presentation that caters to adults, chances are, most people in the audience will have a smart phone or cell phone. In those cases, it makes sense that you can leverage their technology in an audience response system without having to worry about providing your own clickers. However, young students don’t carry cell phones. So we’re still stuck with the challenge of trying to get everyone in the classroom access to the internet. (On the other hand, if you have a class set of clickers, then you can use that with any grade.)
  • You may want to pay for a premium account if you want to figure out who said what. The second challenge is identifying participants with their responses. Poll Everywhere suggests two ways:
    • One is to use the premium feature and use the reports tab. Basically, in one question, you ask your students to submit their name (or pseudonym or student ID) and then on a paid plan, you can match up a participant’s responses across multiple questions. In other words, you can see how they responded to the “what’s your name?” question, and then see how they responded to other questions. The problem with this is that you are trusting students to identify themselves honestly.
    • Poll Everywhere also suggests that for K-12 schools, students create a Poll Everywhere account. That way, it doesn’t matter which laptop or cell phone they’re using, if they log into their Poll Everywhere account, you can see who said what. If you’re a teacher on a paid education plan, you can also restrict your questions to your students  by pre-registering them as participants in your questions and only allow participation from that group.

As with many online services, you need to be 13 years or older to create an account. If you’re younger than 13, then you need your parents permission to use the Poll Everywhere service.

This 3 part series on Using a Student Response System in the Classroom was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 Premium Wireless with a 98.1% word recognition accuracy rate. What is Dragon NaturallySpeaking?

How do you use Poll Everywhere?

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