I am writing a Technology Tool Kit course for middle school and high school math teachers. Before I started writing, I interviewed some math k-6-12 experts and a high school math teacher to get some ideas about what this course should cover. In my conversation with the highs math teacher, she mentioned her school used Clickers last year and people loved it. However, the batteries died and nobody has replaced them. Therefore, the teachers haven’t been able to use these Clickers since the beginning of this year. This is a shame.
I decided to put introduction to both Clickers and its online alternatives to my course. I found it is very good learning method by writing a course – you would think that you know “something”. But you may find yourself not knowing much when you really dig into the topic.
So here is what I found: You have two choices – buying traditional Classroom Response Systems (Clickers), or use their alternatives.
For traditional Clickers, there are a number of major vendors on the market. Almost all of them require a single one-time initial purchase, then registration fee for each semester – please correct me if I am wrong. Some of them actually support the connection to cellphones, tablet, and laptops. One piece of Clicker costs from $20 – $70 dollars, depends on the brand and type you get. You will also have to pay extra for an additional receiver, if your class size exceeds the limitation. Clickers can get lost, broken, or run out of batteries like the high school math teacher said. – I probably am biased, but I don’t like this option.
I explored a few alternative online tools that can achieve the similar functions of Clickers, and I like them.
First of all, for me, Poll Everywhere is the one that requires the minimum of students’ investment. It requires the presenter to have a screen and a projector to project the questions, and then students only need to have to have a cellphone – it doesn’t have to be a Smartphone and it doesn’t have to have web-browsers installed on it.
Some other online tools, such as Socrative, Mentimeter, SoapBox, InfuseLearning, also claim themselves to be able to work with cellphones, laptops and tablets – but these cellphones have to be Smartphones, and will have to have Internet connection and web-browsers on them.
More or less, these online alternative tools support questions types of multiple-choice, short answer(open ended), true/false, rating, ranking. Most of them also support PowerPoint presentation embedding. You will have keep the limitation of voters in mind:
- For a Poll Everywhere free account, it is 40 people per poll question; You can choose to pay to upgrade your account in order to overcome this limitation.
- For Socrative, it is 50 people per poll question;
- Mentimeter claims to have no limitation on the number of voters per question. However, it currently only has multiple-choice question type for free account.