Sunday, January 20, 2013

A No Cost Technology to Include All Students in Class

By Sean Scarpiello

During my fall semester of college, I took an Ecology class where we used a technology called TurningPoint. To use this technology in class, each student would pick up a small remote in the beginning of class, and then our professor would have questions integrated into his PowerPoint presentations which we could then answer with our remotes. This allowed the professor to quiz the class and discern our ability to learn and apply information as he taught it. However, during this past weekend, I took part in a conference where the speaker had a similar technology. This technology was based on a similar idea of TurningPoint, but took advantage of technology we all have—cell phones. This technology is available at

While with TurningPoint we each had to pick up an answer remote, Poll Everywhere uses our cell phones. To use this in a class setting, the teacher or professor logs on to the Poll Everywhere site for free and can create PowerPoint presentations where students can simply text their answer choice into a specified phone number. While this may sound complicated, it is quite simple. The specific number that students text remains the same, so there is no tedious amounts of typing into cell phones. In fact, the whole procedure runs smoothly for students because the instructions are clearly mapped out and easy to follow.

For professors, the process of designing and presenting the class poles are also easy. The entire procedure to build and design questions and answers is much like designing a PowerPoint or TurningPoint Program, and does not take up a lot of time. The biggest benefit of a program like Poll Everywhere is that it is free to use. For teachers, all polls are free for up to 40 students. For students, there are no charges associated with texting. As a result, this technology is a win-win. In addition to these benefits of Poll Everywhere, it is even more useful than typical PowerPoints and even TurningPoint Technologies.

While teachers can easily have students text in a multiple choice answer, such as A, B, C, or D, teachers can also set up the program to accept short answers. This is done through the same process described earlier. All students simply text their desired answer to the given phone number, then they can watch their answers pop up on the projector screen as they send their text messages. The program also allows teachers to scroll back and review individual answers or trends with several answers. After discussing the students' answers in class, the teacher can address where students are making mistakes and make changes to their lesson plans accordingly.

This kind of technology can easily be integrated into all subjects from math and science to history and English. And because most classes in schools from elementary school to college contain less than 40 students, the program will be completely free. The only real flaw in the technology is that only students with cell phones can submit answers. Therefore, it may not be a good tool for teacher in grade school, but teachers in high schools and colleges can definitely take advantage of this technology. In all, while programs like PowerPoint or TurningPoint can be expensive and difficult to execute efficiently, Poll Everywhere allows teachers to effectively keep their class engaged at no cost.


No comments: