E-learning with web 2.0


- ► category - Polling may be seen as loosely associated with web 2.0 because of the way it introduces interaction into presentations and classes. It may involve the use of customised clicker hardware (also known as an audience response system, or personal response system), but it can equally involve the use of free or cheap web-based or app-based polling services accessed by students through computers or mobile devices (see Going Mobile below).

-what - Polling is a way of making presentations and teaching more interactive by allowing audience responses and comments to be quickly and easily gathered, aggregated, and displayed.

- ► how - A teacher typically asks a question; students respond through their devices; and the results are displayed in real time on a screen at the front of the room. They may be displayed in different formats, for example as bar charts (for multiple choice questions) or as lists of items (for open questions). The sample poll on the left, generated with Poll Everywhere, shows student responses sent through SMS (text messaging) and Twitter in a session of the Emergent Technologies in Education course run in Melbourne in December 2011.

- ► why - Polling allows teachers to gain quick feedback on students' levels of understanding by asking content-related questions, which may be multiple-choice or open questions. Students can also use a polling system to ask questions or make comments. It can facilitate not only teacher-student interaction but, depending how it is set up, student-student interaction as well. This may be particularly valuable in large classes.

Because responses are aggregated before being presented on a screen, they are 'anonymous' from the point of view of the audience (though they are not necessarily anonymous from the point of view of the teacher). This can encourage more reserved or reticent students to contribute answers in class. All students are able to see how their responses compare to those of their classmates. Teachers can address any areas of misunderstanding or concern.

- ► where - Commonly used polling services include KwikSurveys, Mentimeter, Micropoll, Poll Everywhere and Socrative, some of which work on both computers and mobile devices. Kahoot! is a simple quiz tool with a time-based competitive element, designed for live display in a classroom. Zeetings allows poll responses and other feedback during a PowerPoint presentation. Other more general survey services which can be used for polling include SurveyMonkey and SurveyNuts. For more options, see the list of web-based polling and survey services on the E-tools page.

- ► going mobile - Some web services, like Poll Everywhere, allow users to send responses by SMS. Other web services, like Socrative, have app versions. There are also a number of dedicated mobile-only polling apps, such as eClicker.

- ► variations - AnswerGarden is a polling service which limits replies to 20 characters and displays a wordcloud of the most common responses;
Mentimeter also offers a word cloud display format. Microblogging services like Twitter may be appropriate for gathering student or audience comments and questions, especially when used in conjunction with display services like Monitter, Wiffiti or Visible Tweets.

Plickers is a service which may be useful in a context where the teacher, but not the students, can make use of a mobile phone. It allows teachers to print out multiple-choice answer cards and give one to each student. Students hold up these cards in response to a question from the teacher, who can use the mobile app to scan the codes held up by the whole class at a glance in order to aggregate class responses.

- ► dangers - If polls are set up so that student responses to open questions are completely anonymous, it may be necessary to begin by discussing netiquette rules about what is, and is not, appropriate to post.

Credits: The image above left shows student responses to a survey question generated with Poll Everywhere. I owe the AnswerGarden link to Maggie McPhee, the Kahoot and Plickers links to Paul Forster, and Mentimeter link to Kate Offer.

Contact: There's no such thing as a finished wiki. Like all wikis, this one is a work in progress and there will be changes from time to time in organisation, content and links. However, don't let that stop you from contacting me at any time with comments, suggestions or questions.