I will be reviewing PollEverwhere, an app designed to let teachers easily make polls for their students and instantly view their responses in an intuitive way.
PollEverywhere has several pricing plans depending on the volume of your students and the features you want to include on your account. The cheapest plan (free) is lets you create a poll that will receive a maximum of 25 responses. A medium plan costs $79/month, allows for 100 responses, and has includes features such as automatic grading, custom usernames, and the ability to moderate responses. The most expensive plan costs $2000/month, allows for any number of responses, and includes additional features such as allowing for team competitions, the ability to include more teachers on the plan, and better support.
Polls are set up through a web browser. However, students can respond to a poll using a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Students can also vote in a poll using twitter or a simple text message.
PollEverywhere was created (and is managed) by the PollEverywhere development team, a team of about 20 people.
Where to get it: You can sign up for the service on the PollEverywhere website at http://www.polleverywhere.com/
PollEverywhere was designed to let teachers poll students and receive instantaneous feedback. Teachers create the poll and show it to the students. The students will have a certain number to send a text message response to, or a certain URL to enter from their mobile device.
Using the web entry form, teachers create a poll. They first enter in the question, such as “What is your favorite color?” Then they either choose for the poll to be a multiple choice question, an open ended question that accepts any response, or an image that can be clicked on. Then the teacher clicks a button and the poll is created but not yet active. Depending on the view chosen in the previous menu, the poll will be set up to display results differently. A button is then clicked to active the poll. Users can either text their answer to a number shown on the screen, or go to a URL on their mobile phone and to respond to the poll. In real time, the bar chart updates with the results of the students’ responses.
The user interface is very intuitive. You choose one feature at a time and the features are separated by pages, so you don’t get overwhelmed by lots of options. The buttons you can click have images that illustrate how results will be displayed. Fields generally include sample text so you know how to format your quiz question, title, etc.
One real-life use case of PollEverwhere is how it is often used in my economics class to engage students. Often the professor will use it to test our knowledge of material. If he gives us a question and 40% or more students choose the same wrong answer, he goes over the material again and repolls us. He also uses it before exams to ask us what song we want to use to start the final exam.
I would recommend this app for educators to use in the classroom. The only real obstacle they face is the startup price, which is hefty if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. However, once you have the service, it is intuitive to use for both teachers and students.
Another way to accomplish what the app does would be for students to write down answers to questions on cards and pass them in, then have TAs total up responses and give the results to the teacher. However, this does not provide the immediate feedback that is the point of PollEverywhere, and makes a lot of extra work for TAs.
The real advantages of this program lie mostly in student engagement. Giving students the chance to test their knowledge DURING the class, while they have just recently learned the material, helps cement the concepts in their minds. Students are also happier when they can participate in the flow of the class and give feedback on items of interest to them. These significant advantages far outweigh the cost if an engaging classroom is your goal.