Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Student Response Systems (Part 2)

Following on from yesterday's post, this is a list of student response systems collated from various sources. I did consider doing this as a table of features but there are so many criteria that this was impossible to do effectively, so what I have aimed to do instead is pick out key points from each offering. You can see in my blog post (Part 1) the things that you need to consider. This list began when I posed a question on the Alt-members (Association of Learning Technologists) forum, so many of those listed are suggestions / recommendations from members. The products repeatedly mentioned were Poll Everywhere and TurningPoint. Other products came from various sources. It is not a complete list nor is the information under each entry comprehensive. The information is accurate as of July 2014, but will change quickly over time.

  • For a basic test, you do not need to set up an account or register
  • A poll is a question. Create as many questions as you like, no matter which pricing structure you are on
  • Question types: Open-ended or multiple choice.
  • Images can be added to questions (drag and drop)
  • Can add LaTex: equations
  • SMS, Twitter, Web responses from students
  • Cap of 40 students for a free web account.
  • Pricing plan for Higher Ed
  • You can see results change as the vote comes in (but be careful as this can influence how later voters give their response)
  • No delay in distributing, collecting or maintaining devices as students use their own
  • Some controversy over pricing - make sure you check. See this blog post by Anne Cunningham (Cardiff University)
  • “Polleverywhere does have a plugin for presenting polls via PowerPoint. Interestingly, half of our trial participants preferred to poll directly from the Polleverywhere ( at the beginning of the trial, 9 out of the 18 academics who registered to participate responded yes to the question “If possible, would you like to present Polleverywhere questions using PowerPoint?” ) (Darren Gash, University of Surrey) (Note added by Terese Bird - make sure that the managed PCs used by tutors have the plugin installed or it can be frustrating.)
  • “We use poll everywhere with the students' own smartphones through SMS/Twitter/Web. Much cheaper and easier to administer than using custom PRS devices.” (Dr Chris Evans, Brunel Business School)  
  • “I used polleverywhere this past week at an 'industry meet the university' sort of session about byod, and it was really good.... It got the point across that we can use whatever device  we own and good learning can happen.” (Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, University of Leicester)
  • “We recently completed a trial of Polleverywhere with the aim of finding an alternative to our existing clicker-based system introduced in 2006. Although they have served the University well, their reliance on proprietary hardware (clickers and receivers) has limited adoption by students (some are either reluctant to carry additional electronic devices around with them or make the effort to book them out from library services) and staff (who have experienced problems getting the receivers to work).The trial has been very positive. Students overwhelmingly found Polleverywhere easy to use, and those who had previous experience with clickers preferred using their own devices. Similarly, staff on the whole found Polleverywhere easy to use, quick to set up and preferred it to the clicker-based system. There is also the potentially wider educational benefit through students being able to respond to open questions with text messages which we’re keen to explore. As a result of the trial we’ve purchased a year site license for Polleverywhere. (Darren Gash, University of Surrey)
  • “Just to echo what Darren has said below. I implemented PollEV in pilot this year. We purchased a license covering 1000 students. The feedback was excellent. We are now expanding wider across my faculty/institution due to the increased interest. Obviously BYOD is a key factor halting wider roll out, so we are investigating purchasing small and cheap devices that can be used where students don’t have anything to use themselves. “ (Matt East, Anglia Ruskin University) 
  • Handsets available, often called ‘clickers’ – different types available offering different types of question possibilities, including a self-paced option (Response Card NXT)
  • “We’re using Turning Point handsets currently. We bought some last summer and keep them centrally so we can loan them to departments when needed. More recently, one of our larger departments has purchased handsets for all their first and second year students (starting next academic year) whilst another large department has purchased the ResponseWare licences with Turning Point, so students use their own devices to answer questions. “ (Catherine Mclean, University of Essex)
  • Software option for use with students’ own devices is called Responseware (http://www.turningtechnologies.com/response-solutions/responseware)
  • “We’ve been using turningpoint handheld clickers for years at Warwick but are now hoping to get funding to licence responseware web client that works alongside it (on web browsers and mobile app). We started using them before the whole BYOD thing and there is still a feeling that we’re not ready to move away from the bespoke handset option altogether. Turningpoint plus reponseware is nicely hybrid. Simon Lancaster from UEA demoed the hybrid approach recently at a guest lecture here and got us thinking!” (Amber Thomas, University of Warwick)
  • Responseware doesn’t support the self-paced polling facility: “We looked at Responseware but decided to continue with dedicated hardware for a number of reasons, not least the ability of our WiFi to reliably handle the number of devices in some areas of the campus (an upgrade project is in progress but naturally it’s not an overnight job) and because ResponseWare doesn’t support the Self Paced Polling facility. We plan to use the Self Paced feature to facilitate computer marked assessments which have a greater range of question types available, to avoid having to shoehorn questions into multiple choice format to use with our optical marking system, and can be taken by greater numbers of students than can be accommodated in a computer room in one sitting.  Even if the feature were available on the app, it would give the invigilators considerable difficulty in ensuring that students are only using that app and haven’t switched to a browser to research the answer.” (Steve Bentley, University of Huddersfield)
  • “We've been running the TP handsets since about 2010, and have found them pretty good. As reported elsewhere, some of our departments and larger faculties have taken the steps of buying them for all their students and tying the handset IDs to the students registration where attendance monitoring was an important issue for complying with external regulatory bodies such as the GMC for our medics. The downside to TP is of course being tied to their hardware, however some areas are now looking at the app version. What I would say about TP, which isn't so much the case with some of the other ones, and I think this is a major reason why it is popular with teaching staff is the integration with PowerPoint. We have TP on our managed desktop, and I think the fact it is so easy to use and represents such a small leap from what they already do is a significant attraction.“ (Graham McElearney, University of Sheffield)

  • Capped at 50 simultaneous students for a free account  
  • Exit ticket feature – 3 quick questions to get feedback at the end of a class
  • “At the Language Centre we also use socrative (maybe language groups are generally smaller classes anyway so no cost involved) Also, from the point of view of logisitics BYOD is a better solution as specialist hardware is not easily accessible when our staff teach in so many different locations. “ (Teresa McKinnon, University of Warwick Language Centre
  • BYOD (PC, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows) – App or Browser
  • Results generated as Excel spreadsheet
  • Can sign in with Google
  • BYOD
  • Free account capped at 30 students
  • Import a PowerPoint and then add question slides
  • Students see your slide on their device
  • Volume licensing and various upgrade options
  • “I used it successfully with a group of 60 participants using a variety of devices, some supplied (ipad minis), others brought by participants - iphones, android phones, laptops, Windows phones. In fact it was only the Blackberry users who had trouble !!!” (Matt Smith)
  • “Dear Members: The State of Tennessee uses NearPod (you can use on ALL devices including lap top). It is free and offers more than a student response system. You can use it as a clicker,poll, testing, drawing, video, etc. Yes, it is FREE for the students and the basic level for instructors! This application allows our instructor to use as an attendance tool, instructional tool, communication tool, and most importantly a teaching and learning tool and assessment tool.Plus, the instructor may upload content, browse the web, etc. and have it to show on the students' mobile device of choice.” (Robbie Melton)
And a few more worth a mention, in no particular order…..
  • Embed your questions in PowerPoint
  • “I invite you to also consider LectureTools from Echo360.  With it you can pose questions as multiple choice, free response, reorder list, image-based and numerical plus students can pose questions, take notes, annotate slides and indicate when they’re confused.  In addition, it offers a growing list of learning analytics so you can do research on to what degree student participation affects  learning in your classes (e.g. http://www.sageonstage.com).”  Perry Samson, University of Michigan
  • Future Event: Perry Samson will be presenting lessons learned using LectureTools on Sep 1 at the ALT-C Conference
Learning Catalytics

  • BYOD
  • Wide range of question types
  • Owned by Pearson
  • Question sharing across the user-base
  • Detailed reports on student results 


Text Wall
  • Students can send in texts which are displayed on a screen
  • £600 per year as a site-wide licence
  • As many responses as you like
  • Recipients SMS, email, type in web page
  • Responses can go into a Wordle
  • “It allows as many responses as you like and lets recipients SMS, e-mail or type in a web page box. Then you can ping the resposnes straight (integrated) into Wordle for a word cloud.” (Mark Gamble, University of Bedfordshire) 
The following information has been supplied by Dee Vyas at MMU
  • Question types: multiple choice, text response for open-ended answers, free numeric entry , slide to display text and images to respondents
  • Question Presentation: randomly shuffle the order of options for each respondent in multiple choice questions, images displayed in the question with pinch-to-zoom for touch devices, videos from YouTube and media from other sites can be embedded in the question
  • Responding: unlimited audience size, unlimited number of open sessions, guaranteed anonymity for respondents, enhanced support for Android, iPhone, iPad and Blackberry devices
  • Results: results displayed in PowerPoint slides with live updates, displayed as: charts: vertical bar, horizontal bar or pie chart, export / download as spreadsheet
    • table of responses
    • interactive 'sticky notes'
    • word cloud (now available!)
    Usability: powerful search features, Question Bank for easy re-use and templating support



  • Interface may be more suitable to younger learners (although the advertising does say it is suitable for business and University)
  • Geared to games-based learning
  • BYOD (browser-based)
  • No real chance to try – only based on their questions. No pricing given.
  • ActivExpression handsets or ActivEngage software (requires installation). This is ideally suited to learning environments that are already worked with the Promethean interactive classroom software.
  • Requires use of ActivInspire software to set the questions
  • Provides wide range of question types and self-paced options.
  • Browser based
  • An fully-embedded add-on to PowerPoint for live-polling inside your PowerPoint
  • One month free and then £30 per year
  • Ombea devices or students’ own devices
  • Can embed into PowerPoint
  • More detailed analytical tools than many of the other systems
  • Browser based
  • The tutor opens up a blank page and gives a URL to the students
  • No log-in required – can be set up almost instantly – good as an ice-breaker
  • BYOD for any device – browser based
  • Particularly good option to ‘draw’ a response freehand
  • Self-paced option
  • Multi-language option – can be translated for students on the spot
  • Push-link option – send a URL out to all your students instantly -  tutor types in a link, pushed to students
  • Easy to use and we have used it effectively in staff PD & multi-campus classes when presenting via videoconference to get remote students to ask questions and contribute to discussion (Janet Buchan, James Cook University)

  • “A new way to capture student (and anyone else’s) response is by simple video capture using mobile devices in the main. It allows the questioner to pose questions by video capture that the respondent can then watch and reply to, using the same video capture. It works on handheld devices as well as laptops so can be used for web quests etc. Well worth looking at as it replaces the need for written feedback. It could be used to capture learner experiences for OfSTED and Marketing purposes. Can provide the ‘vox pop’ type capture of a video box.” (Geoff Rebbeck, Freelance)
  • Not really suitable for use in lectures, but could be used to capture questions and responses in-between times.

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