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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

15 Good Tools for Quickly Gathering Feedback from Students

Polls, chat tools, and interactive quizzes provide good ways to hear from all of the students in a classroom. These kind of tools allow shy students to ask questions and share comments. For your more outspoken students who want to comment on everything, a feedback mechanism provides a good outlet for them too. Here's a run-down of some of the best tools for gathering feedback from students in real-time.


Newer tools:
Tozzl is a chat platform that allows you to quickly create private, password-protected message boards as well as public boards. To get started visit Tozzl and select "create a new Tozzl." Then you can name your message board and set a privacy password (optional). Tozzl assigns a new, unique URL to each message board. On your message board you can add sections for chat, file sharing, to-do lists, and YouTube videos. You can also import the feed of a Twitter hashtag into your Tozzl boards. A Tozzl demonstration video is available here.

Dotstorming is a neat tool that combines a bit of Padlet with a polling tool. On Dotstorming you can create a space for people to post digital sticky notes. Those notes can contain text and or images. That part of Dotstorming is just like Padlet. What makes Dotstorming different is that once the notes are posted, you can have people vote for their favorite notes. As the creator of a Dotstorming space you can restrict the number of votes that each person can cast. For example, you could say that each person gets two votes and once those votes are cast they're prevented from casting any more votes. After the voting is completed, you can sort the notes according to the number of votes they received. See Dotstorming in action in this video.

Twitter isn't new, but its native polling tool is new this year. Twitter polls allow you to create simple two answer choice polls. Watch this video to see how it works.

Formative is a tool that offers my feature from the now defunct Infuse Learning platform. That feature is the option for students to draw responses to your questions. Formative provides you with a place to create online classrooms. Your students join your classroom by entering the assigned class code after registering on the Formative website. Once your classroom is established you can begin distributing assignments to students. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded questions. You can also enable or disable instant feedback for students. When you give an assignment to students through Formative you can watch their responses in real-time. A video about Formative can be seen here.

Quizalize is a free quiz game platform. Students play your quiz games on their laptops or tablets by going to the Quizalize website then entering their names and a class code. Students are awarded points for correctly answering questions quickly. Students are given feedback instantly on every quiz question that they answer. A total score is presented to students at the end of every quiz. Creating quizzes on Quizalize is a simple process. To get started just name your quiz and tag it with a subject label. As you write each quiz question you can include a picture and up to four answer choices. You can specify a time limit of 5 to 120 seconds for each question. Quizalize offers a marketplace in which you can find quizzes created by other users. Some of the quizzes are free and others are sold for a dollar or two. To be clear, creating and playing your own quizzes is completely free.

Old reliables:
81 Dash is a nice backchannel platform that provides a place for teachers to create chat rooms to use with students to host conversations and share files. Once you are registered you can begin creating rooms. In your chat room you can exchange messages and files. As the owner of a room you can delete messages written by your students. Students join your 81 Dash room by going to the URL that is assigned to your room. When they arrive at your room for the first time they will be asked to register. There are two registration options. Registering as a "guest user" does not require students to enter email addresses.

Plickers is a neat student response system that has been a hit at every conference or school in which I've shown it. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. Click here for a full run-down of ideas for using Plickers.

Padlet is a tool that has been used by teachers in a variety of ways for years now. I've often used as a collaborative know-want-learn chart and as an exit ticket tool. Padlet works on interactive whiteboards, on iPads and Android tablets, and in the web browser on your laptop. In this post I outlined five ways to use Padlet in the classroom.

GoSoapBox allows you to have your audience respond to questions through their laptops, tablets, and phones. Polls and Discussion in GoSoapBox are the meat and potatoes of the service. The Polls tool allows you to survey your audience by having them select an answer choice in response to a question. The Discussions tool allows you to have audience members reply to open-ended questions. One of the simplest yet effective survey options in GoSoapBox is a tools called a Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter allows members of your audience to simply say, "yes, I get it" or "no, I don't get it." The Confusion Meter, like all of the GoSoapBox survey tools, can accept anonymous feedback. You can use the Social Q&A tool in GoSoapBox to have students submit their questions to you. Students can see each other's question submissions and vote them up if they want to.

AnswerGarden is a neat service that allows you to embed a open-ended feedback tool into your classroom blog or website. With an AnswerGarden embedded into your blog your students can simply type responses to your question and see their responses appear in a word cloud. Creating an AnswerGarden is a simple process that does not require you to create an account. To get started go to the AnswerGarden homepage and click "create AnswerGarden." On the next screen you will enter a question or statement for your students to respond to. To share your AnswerGarden with students you can give them the link or embed the AnswerGarden into your blog as I have done below. Optionally, before sharing your AnswerGarden you can turn on moderation of responses and set an admin password.

ParticiPoll is a service that you can use to add interactive polls to your PowerPoint presentations. Your polls are created and delivered within your PowerPoint slides. Once you've added ParticiPoll to your PowerPoint you can create as many polls as you like. Each poll can have up to six response options. The best aspect of ParticiPoll is that you don't have to leave your slidedeck at all in order to administer the poll and see the results of your poll. Your audience can respond to your ParticiPoll poll through their cell phones, tablets, or laptops. To respond they simply go to the URL for your poll and choose a response. When you want to display the poll results you just click to the next element in your PowerPoint slidedeck and the results are displayed for all to see. All polls are anonymous.

Kahoot is a service for delivering online quizzes and surveys to your students. The premise of Kahoot is similar to that of Socrative and Infuse Learning. On Kahoot you create a quiz or survey that your students respond to through any device that has a web browser. Your Kahoot questions can include pictures and videos. As the teacher you can control the pace of the Kahoot quiz or survey by imposing a time limit for each question. As students answer questions they are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their answers. A scoreboard is displayed on the teacher's screen. Students do not need to have a Kahoot account in order to participate in your activities. To participate they simply have to visit Kahoot.it then enter the PIN code that you give to them to join the activity.

Socrative is the standard to which I compare all new student response systems. Socrative uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more fun question formats is the "space race" format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible.

Quiz Socket is a tool developed for the purpose of enabling teachers to quickly gather feedback from students. Quiz Socket enables students to respond to questions through their cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Here's how Quiz Socket works. Teachers visit the Quiz Socket website and click "create quiz." A quiz code is assigned to the teacher. The teacher then gives that quiz code to students to enter on QuizSocket.com. Teachers then deliver multiple choice questions to students either verbally or by posting them on a whiteboard. The teacher controls the pace of the quiz by simply clicking "next question" to move the quiz along.

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. The word cloud feature integrates with WordleTagxedo, and Tagul.

TodaysMeet is a long-time favorite tool of mine for backchanneling in the classroom. When you create an account on TodaysMeet you can keep track of all of your chatrooms in one place, restrict access to your rooms, and close rooms early if the conversation gets too far off track. Registered users of TodaysMeet can moderate comments in their rooms. TodaysMeet can be embedded into blogs and websites. Click here for more information about these updates.