Check out Poll Everywhere, a site where anyone can create a poll and the individuals being polled can use their cell phone to record responses. Here is yet another reason to incorporate handheld technology that students already possess into the classroom rather that spending precious dollars on clickers. Granted, currently, only the first 100 votes are free but I’m sure that as time goes by, other services will appear offering either free service or better price plans. In the mean time, teachers/school can “purchase votes” at reasonable prices and only when they are needed (as of this writing, 100 votes can be purchased for $16.30, 500 votes can be purchased for $75 dollars). This contrasts from purchasing clicker devices. I had quite a difficult time finding prices for the hardware on one manufacturer’s site (which will remain nameless) – they do mention that rentals can cost $5 per clicker for a one day event. That’s $150 for a class of 30 for one day! The other issue is hardware – it needs be stored and, like any hardware, needs to be replaced over time. When using a cell phone, most parents have already taken care of the hardware costs. For those students who do not have a cell phone, they can place their votes via a school computer.
The other selling point is that Poll Everywhere does not require software installation, saving the teachers massive frustrations when dealing with school district IT departments and hardware security. Results are displayed in a browser and can be inserted into MS PowerPoint. Students send replies via SMS and results can be used in a variety of ways – Data Management in a Mathematics classroom, social attitudes in a social studies classroom, etc. Having the first 100 votes free allows teachers to try out the service before committing.
It’s not that I am challenging the use of clicker hardware. I just feel that students already have interactive devices in their pockets that we can access to achieve a multitude of learning goals, saving money that we would have spent on other technologies to strengthen school networks, upgrade computer hardware and software, etc. Mobile learning means freedom to learn wherever one finds themselves and whenever it is convenient. With cell phones, even students who are absent can participate in the poll; can’t do that with a clicker. Results are displayed in a browser so it can be viewed on any devices that can access the Internet and from anywhere; can’t do that either with a clicker as software is installed locally and only the local machine can access the data.
Take a look and tell me what you think.
Added on February 15, 2008
The video tutorial on incorportaing a polling into a PowerPoint 2007 Slide Show…
…and for PowerPoint 2003: