Saturday, August 27, 2011

Affordable Audience Response systems for your classroom

     The days of having to spend thousands of dollars to equip classrooms with interactive whiteboards and audience response systems are coming to an end. If you have a classroom of computers or mobile devices, you can now find reasonable alternatives for a fraction of the cost. Previously, I had reviewed Doceri ($50 for each host computer) and Splashtop Whiteboard ($10 app). Both of these can prove to be very inexpensive alternatives to having an interactive whiteboard in your classroom. 

     Many interactive whiteboard companies also sell audience response systems (eclickers) which enable teachers or presenters to poll students. These devices are bulky to carry around and can be very expensive when you need to buy a lot of them. This article will highlight three inexpensive alternatives to such devices which can work in conjunction with the interactive whiteboard alternatives. 

Question Press (formerly Quickie Q) 

     Question Press is an online website which allows teachers to create quizzes or polls and have students do them in real time. I used this frequently last year with my students and they absolutely loved it. It is a great tool to find out what students know before you start a new unit or to check that they have understood what you have taught. I used it most often to do check-ups on what I was teaching students in math. 

     Question Press is a very affordable option and the company has great customer service as well. It will cost you just $24 a year to set it up for your class and less than $100 for an entire school. I have written about them earlier on this blog. If you have computers in your class, this is a great way to get your students more engaged in learning and for you to find areas where you need to reteach to the class or specific students. 

Poll Everywhere 

     I have never used Poll Everywhere but a colleague sent me the link so I thought I would check it out. It looks like a great choice if you want flexibility in how students respond and which devices they use to do so. Teachers can ask a question and the audience can respond using mobile devices, Twitter and web browsers. The results are then displayed live in Keynote, Powerpoint, or on the Web. 

     Poll Everywhere is free for up to 30 respondents, which is perfect for the classroom teacher. For those looking to reach larger audiences (professors, lecturers, etc) the pricing plan is still quite affordable. 

   According to the company's website "eClicker is a personal response system that allows teachers to poll their class during a lesson. It provides teachers with the real-time feedback they need to be sure their messages are being received". 

     The host app is available for $9.99 on the App Store and students can download the responder app for free. This is a great way to make your class interactive if you have iOS devices in your classroom.