Can I use polling software for Distance Learners?

Following the post on using polling software for teaching we received a query about the feasibility of using polling software such as PollEverywhere or Mentimeter for Distance Learners’ modules.

Please find below the results of our testing and research.

Mentimeter

As every presentation has a different code to access the poll, you can vote even when the presentation is not displayed. However, if not used for live voting, each presentation should only contain one slide. If the presentation includes two or more slides (and it is not displayed by the poll’s author) the participants will only be able to access the first slide.

PollEverywhere

  • PollEverywhere has a function that allows to group questions/polls and change them into a survey which can be shared and filled in by participants in their own time. However you have to make the survey ‘active’ and only one presentation can be active at the time (https://www.polleverywhere.com/faq question: Can I combine multiple questions (polls) into a survey?)
  • There are other online surveys’ tools such as Google Forms or Wufoo. They can be used by unlimited number of participants (which is not the case with PollEverywhere, the limit with the free plan is 25 responders). However, these tools do not have such a variety of questions (particularly in comparison to PollEverywhere) and are not as visually attractive.

Alternative to all above are Blackboard tests or surveys.

Sharing surveys with students:

The link to any of the online surveys could be shared with students via e-mail, announcement or link in the content area on Blackboard (in case of PollEverywhere you can only share one survey at the time, the ‘active’ one).

Sharing results with students:

The actual results’ reporting tools in Mentimeter and PollEverywhere are not available with the free plan. You could share the results with students by taking screenshots of the graphs with responses and putting them up as an image, item or one of the slides in a PowerPoint presentation on Blackboard.

In both, Google Forms and Wufoo you can download the results to Excel. However, if wanting to present results in an accessible and visual way, it would probably be better to use the screenshot method described above. When using Blackboard tests or surveys, you can view the statistics via Grade Centre and either download them to Excel or save them as pdf document.

If you have any questions or suggestion, please do not hesitate to share them with us.

 

Online polling services and privacy issues

If you’ve already read part one of this series, you’ll know how useful online polling services are to engaging students actively in the classroom (if you haven’t – take a look).

As well as selecting a tool to suit your teaching and learning activity, you also need to take a look at the Privacy Policy of the service you’re interested in. This will help you to understand what:

  • personal data the company in question is collecting about you;
  • what personal data your students may be required to give;
  • information on how your presentations are stored;
  • how and where your data is kept.

https://flic.kr/p/8ouBhQ

Most companies make their Privacy Policy pretty easy to find (on most sites there was a link at the bottom of the homepage under the heading Privacy).

Here are our top tips when using an online polling tool:

  1. We found the Terms and Conditions of most services are fairly short and easy to understand – some even provided an ‘at a glance’ summary of main points.
  2. In the majority of cases, students are not required to create accounts or register for a service to take part in a polling activity. This means that for students, the only information that is collected about them would be details of the browser / device etc they used to access the poll. And this won’t be linked to their name or email address.
  3. In all cases, staff need to register with a service to create and display polls. For the majority of the services, you can either create a username and password, or link to an existing account (such as Google or Facebook).
    1. If you are creating your own account, don’t use your AU password as the password to the polling service. Follow our tips to create a strong, separate password (https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=25)
    2. If you are using an existing account, be aware of the data that may be shared between the two services. Your Facebook or Google account will contain lots of information about you that you may not want to be shared. You may want to look at the settings for the connection to make sure that you are happy with the level of data shared.
  4. Have a look at the rights you have to your polls. Some services allow other users to browse and share presentations, so you may want to consider the visibility of your presentations.
  5. Consider which third parties your data is shared with. We strongly recommend that you choose a service where the data is either based in the EU or where the company has the EU-US Privacy Shield standard in place. And check your preferences – do you want to opt-out of mailing lists, advertising etc.

At present, AU does not have a site licence for an online polling service, so when signing up for one of these services you are signing up as an individual, rather than as a representative of, or on behalf of, AU.

Choosing an online polling tool

Image of students using polling handsets

https://flic.kr/p/9wNtHp

In-class polling or voting is great way to increase student engagement and interactivity in the classroom (for example see: Shaw et al, 2015; Boyle and Nicol 2003; Habel and Stubbs, 2014; Stratling, 2015). It is used widely in both higher and further education, and number of staff at AU make use of in-class polling on a regular basis. In addition to physical Qwizdom handsets available in loan stock, staff are more and more using online polling services such as Poll Everywhere, Socrative and Mentimeter (amongst others). These services allow students to use their own devices (such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops) to take part in polls, give feedback, and ask questions.

The E-learning Group can provide a wide range of information and support for anyone interested in using polling in their teaching. This ranges from advice on how to embed polling into your teaching practice successfully, to practical help on creating and using polls in the classroom.

At present AU doesn’t offer a centrally supported online polling tool for mobile devices. However, there are a wide range of services available, many with free or trial versions. This blog post is designed to help you assess which tool suits you and your students’ best.

  1. What do you want to do? As with all learning technology implementation, the first question you need to ask is ‘what do I want my students to do?’ The service you select will depend on the answer you have. For example, if you want your students to submit questions, or provide written feedback, look for a service that offers more than multiple choice questions.
  2. How many students will be in the class? Many of the free or limited versions of paid-for software have a limit on the number of students they can be used it. Look carefully at the details of what the free version does or doesn’t include.
  3. We also strongly recommend that you look at the Privacy Policy of the service to ensure you know what personal data is collected about you and your students (have a look at our blog post on this issue).

The E-learning Group has produced some information on some services which you may want to look at.

Once you have decided on which service you are using, here’s some of our top tips on successfully using voting in the classroom

  1. Think about your question/s. There’s lots of resources on designing good questions, particularly multiple choice questions. Don’t feel that you have to ask a question that has a correct or incorrect answer. Sometimes a question that sparks debate or shows the breadth of opinions on a subject can be useful.
  2. Using polling as a discussion starter. There are a variety of ways that you can use polling and group discussions together – two popular ways are Peer Instruction (especially the work of Eric Mazur) or Class-Wide Instruction (Dufresne, 1996)
  3. Practice. Have a practice before the session so that you are comfortable and familiar with using the questions and displaying the results. You can do this from your office using a mobile device such as a tablet or mobile phone.
  4. Make time in the lecture. If you are using polling activities in the classroom, make sure you leave enough time to give students to access on their devices, think about the answers and respond. You may also need time to correct misunderstandings or explain the answers.
  5. Let your students know in advance. Make sure that your students know to bring their devices and have them available in class. You can do this using the announcement function in Blackboard. You can also provide links to relevant FAQs such as how to connect to the AU wifi (Android: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=692, Windows: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=870, iOS: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=700 )

There are a whole range of opportunities for using polling – from collecting information on how much the students know at the start of a module, to finding out what topics you need to cover in a revision session. You can also collect opinions, gain feedback on how the lecture is going, or collect anonymous questions. If you’re using polling in your teaching get in touch and tell us more – we may even feature your work on the blog!

Polling software: Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere

The E-leaning Group is looking into how polling software can be used in lectures and seminars. Polling software is a great way to increase classroom engagement as it provides interactive presentations ranging from multiple choice questions to live word clouds. With their personal devices (such as mobiles, tablets etc.), students will be able to answer questions, vote and ask queries,which will appear on the presentation slides.  The recent Digital Insights survey, overseen by Information Services, showed that fifty-seven percent of lectures already use some sort of polling software in the classroom.

Some examples of positive comments from students include:

 “Provided quick feedback on what lecture we needed help with”

“Online poll, on parts of the subject asking the class how much they understood. This made it so people put how they actually felt as they didn’t have to speak in class”

“Polls in lecturers keep the students interested”

“It was fun last year when we did online quizzes in the lecture, interactive with each other and then went through the answers question by question on the big screen”

“Method of reviewing prescribed reading material”

The E-Learning Group has found Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere to be especially accessible and reliable:

  • Mentimeter is best used for lectures with larger audiences as it has no limit on participants. With Mentimeter you can create: quick slides, questions and quizzes. There is no limit on the number of quick slides, however with the free version you only be able to create two questions and five quizzes.
  • Poll Everywhere caps its audience at twenty-five so can best work in seminars and workshops. Poll Everywhere provides much of what Mentimeter does with the benefit of having no limit on the number of questions/activities.

There is a guide to creating presentations with both Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere available on our webpages.