Audience response systems analyze and display student responses to questions posed in class, giving students the opportunity to actively participate during a lecture (while preserving anonymity). These systems are known by many names including student response systems, classroom response systems, and “clickers.”
Clickers can be used for a variety of purposes such as gauging student comprehension of material, identifying misconceptions, and asking controversial questions (see how Dr. Sam Richards at Penn State does it).
Here at La Salle University, some faculty in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences and in the School of Arts and Sciences use i>clicker for formative assessment. Classrooms equipped with i>clicker receivers require students to use devices purchased at the university bookstore.
If you’re interested in trying out i>clicker, but aren’t ready to ask students to purchase the devices, you can try it out by heading to Olney 200 and checking out the clicker kit from Multimedia Services. Included in the kit is a quick set-up guide, the receiver, software, and 30 student clickers. If you’d like some assistance integrating i>clicker into your class, developing questions, or have other instructional questions, please feel free to get in touch with the Instructional Design team.
Perhaps you’d rather leverage the tools your students already bring to class, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Here are four free or low-cost audience response systems that students can use with their own devices.
What is it? In addition to providing a student response system utilizing any web-enabled device (laptop, smartphone, or tablet), this product allows instructors to create groups using response patterns and track overall student performance to help identify areas where students may need more assistance.
How much does it cost? Instructor accounts are free. Students can purchase accounts at $12 per semester or $20 per year for an unlimited number of classes.
How do I get started? Sign up for an instructor account and try it with students for 30 days. During the trial period, you can use it in the classroom (up to 100 students).
Interesting features: Question formats include sketch, which allows students to draw a graph; region, which allows students to pick a point on an image; priority, which allows results to show strength of choice; and data collection, which allows students to report numerical data from an experiment.
What is it? Instructors use a web-based account to enable student responses to multiple choice and alphanumeric questions with any web-enabled device (laptop, smartphone, or tablet). Its format makes it easy to display questions and results to students via projection.
How much does it cost? Free for both students and instructors.
How do I get started? In order to build a response session, instructors must create an account. Building “interactions” may not feel as intuitive as other systems, so it’s helpful to consult the user manual. Students respond using a session key. Starting and stopping a poll creates a new session key.
Interesting features: Can create question banks and multiple folders to facilitate sessions. Creating questions with both images and URLs is simple: just add it to the simple text editor in the question instructions.
Results display for text responses can be posted as sticky notes.
What is it? Allows polling via text messaging, Twitter, or the web.
How much does it cost? Free up to 40 people, or invite your students to use it for $14 per year. Instructors can pay $349/semester and allow all students to respond to polls for free.
How do I get started? In order to initiate polls, you need to sign up for an account. Once you have an account, you can create as many polls as you need. Polls include built-in instructions for participants, and all answers match a specific code. Polls can also be sent privately via a link.
Interesting features: You can download polls as slides into PowerPoint or Keynote.
What is it? This student response system allows instructors to build single question activities or build quiz-based activities for up to 50 users in a single session. Students and instructors can use it on any web-enabled device, such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Socrative also provides student responses as an Excel file and will tally the results of multiple choice questions.
How much does it cost? It’s free for students and instructors as part of their beta product launch.
How do I get started? Instructors must create an account in order to build activities. Your instructor account is linked to one room that students will use to participate in activities.
Interesting features: Socrative makes it easy to allow students to work through quizzes at their own pace and provides a way to check for student understanding ask they leave class. It also allows instructors to share quizzes in the Socrative Learning Community.
Remember, each of these options relies on good cell service or wifi reception. Some areas on campus have limited cell or wifi coverage.
Have you tried any of these tools? Tell us about it by posting a comment!