Friday, September 6, 2013

Polling in the Classroom

Of course every great instructor loves to see their students engaged in the classroom.  Students, believe it or not, love to have their voices heard too, although many may be shy about doing that.
With the influx of new technologies over the last few years, many new ways have been developed to get your student's voice heard in your class.  One kind of technology that has been used here at North Shore Community College is clicker technology, which is often times referred to as audience response, classroom response, or student response technology.

This little device, the clicker, allows the student to make their voice heard anonymously in class.  Many faculty have used polling when talking about controversial issues.  The student submits their actually feelings on an issue without class influence.  Other faculty have used clickers to get a sense of whether or not the class has understood the gist of the material just presented in class.  It's a kind of "pre-testing" or "assessment" of student knowledge.  It helps you as the instructor understand just where they are in their learning or any common misconceptions that might be happening.

Formal polling can be developed in PowerPoint.  On-the-fly polling can be conducted anywhere, anytime.  We use Turning Technologies' Turning Point software here at the College for both formal and anywhere/anytime polling.  You, as the instructor, get to tailor the polling to your classes needs.   For instructors, who for whatever reason choose not to clicker hardware in their class, web-based and phone-based solutions are also available through Poll Everywhere.  Submitting answers through a web site are often preferred over submitting answers via text as students texting may cost that student money depending on their texting plan.

For "first steps" in this process, please contact me at or 978-739-5530.  Also, here is a great resource for getting started with clickers here at North Shore.  We are happy and here to help! 

General Overview of Clickers 
Peer Discussion/Peer Learning/Student Engagement 
  • Classroom Reconsidered: Understanding and Engaging Students with Clickers

Have you used clickers or other similar tools in your class?  What are some of your best experiences with it?  What surprised you about the experience?