Poll Everywhere – A free/Cheap Alternative to Polling Hardware

When I was in high school, I played on the ‘Whiz Quiz” Team. If you don’t know what that is – imagine a group of nerds sitting around and buzzing in to answer trivia questions. I actually got a varsity letter for that. I was awesome at it.

However, as a floating teacher, I’m not one who can keep equipment in a  classroom for repeated use. Today, my good friend Dan sent me a link to a cool service called Poll Everywhere. With a pricing tier from free (for thirty users and one administrator) to thousands of dollars (for fancy features and unlimited users and pollers), it’s a great option – and with the free account, a great tool that I can play with and hope to upgrade a little later. It’s built using a basic website tool to create polls and allows participants to use their cell phones to text their votes (or even use twitter if it’s enabled). It draws on a concept that we see a lot of schools employing: namely BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). It also adheres to the idea that if we give students an objective, a purpose for using their devices in our classrooms then it will keep them more on task and less Facebook check-y.

So, I signed up for the free service. I like asking poll-like questions in class and have long relied on the archaic ‘hand-raising’ method. However, your shyer students are less inclined to raise their hands or otherwise publicly display an answer – especially those that really feel the need to be ‘right.’ This helps to eliminate that element, allowing more ‘anonymous’ (at least to the outside viewer, as a moderator you can see who posts what and at certain paid tiers even moderate responses). Here is the poll that I made:

As you can see, 100% of people agree that Nack Nicholson was the best Joker in all Batman Genres (sorry other contestants).

Right now, I think that I’m going to employ this in one of my smaller, more mature classes (likely an AP) and see how it works.

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About Jennifer Carey

My name is Jennifer Carey and I am a student and educator of the human condition. I have long studied history, trained in archaeology, and found a passion in the field of education. As a long-time lover of technology (my father bought our family our first Apple IIe when I was three), I love technology and what it can bring to the classroom. I have taught at various Universities for many years as well as educating gifted teenagers through the Johns Hopkins program, the Center for Talented Youth. I am currently the Director of Educational Technology at the Ransom Everglades School (a secular independent school) in Miami, Fl. I also have a few educational podcasts on iTunes from my days teaching at TCU: The Ancient City of Rome, Classical Archaeology (2008), Classical Archaeology (2009), Introduction to Classical Myth, and Ancient Eats. They’re enhanced (so you get the PowerPoints along with the vocal), but please excuse the poor audio editing. Feel free to Email Me or follow me on twitter.
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14 Responses to Poll Everywhere – A free/Cheap Alternative to Polling Hardware

  1. Jim Wheeler says:

    Some eschew the use of electronic devices in education, and I do believe there is a danger that the device itself may be a distraction, but this post is a good example of how a wise teacher might use such to draw out the more shy and less aggressive student, to show them that anyone can have interesting opinions. Nicely done.

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  3. Colin Bridgewater says:

    Looks like you won’t ever have to pay:

    “Our goal is to give all K-12 educators the ability to use our free version, regardless of class size or overcrowding. The free plans currently let you use Poll Everywhere with any 40 students at a given time. If you have more than this in your classroom, please email us and explain the situation so we can accommodate you.

    Note that this promise is for the number of physical seats in a single classroom. It doesn’t cover combined classrooms (e.g. 60 at a time) or school-wide polls. The non-profit monthly plans are your best bet for that.

    Middle and secondary educators can still easily use Poll Everywhere for free with multiple sections. Just create copies of your polls, or clear your polls to archive off the results between runs.”

    http://www.polleverywhere.com/faq#class-size-promise

    • Jennifer Lockett says:

      Yes, but the paid plans have some cool features that could be quite useful – being able to moderate answers in open-ended questions (we all have that kid who “thinks” they’re being funny) and the ability to monitor who is responding.

  4. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Poll Everywhere! We appreciate you taking the time, and love getting ‘user’ feedback; however, Heath Ledger has my vote, no contest.

    @Jim Wheeler – The contentious debate of electronic devices in the classroom continues, but it has been interesting to see the perspective shifting towards acceptance. Two of my favorites: http://huff.to/qUCmqg , http://bit.ly/oxZnQz

    @ Colin – Couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for sharing our K12 Classroom Size Promise!

    Thanks again and email me with any questions, comments, or ideas!

    Steve@polleverywhere.com

  5. Lissa Stokan says:

    GREAT REVIEW! I totally agree with pretty much all you said in your post, especially at the end of your article. Thank you, this info is very valuable as always. Keep up the good work! You’ve got +1 more reader of your super blog:) Isabella S.

  6. tvschem says:

    Come to Honors Physics if you want to see this in action. The ability to track responses on registered students is worth the price! We used this last in in AP Physics to great success. As I said Hon Physics will use a lot, and AP Chem will likely get a few uses as well. (Of course it is nice if students have unlimited texting if they don’t have a smart phone. Also, the new mac presenter app should be a lot of fun to try out (they used to have a mac widget, but it was buggy to say the least).

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