Poll ‘Em Everywhere

Do you ever look out at your class and see students checking email, text messaging, or simply sleeping?  Let’s be honest, library instruction has the potential to be a bit boring.  Why not spice it up and make it more interactive with Poll Everywhere?  Give your students a fun option for in-class participation using their own cell phones.  Poll Everywhere has two main types of polls: multiple choice and free text.  The choices in multiple choice polls are set up by the instructor on the Poll Everywhere website and voted on via text message by the students.  Like American Idol, your students can “vote” by simply texting a number or a keyword to a designated phone number.    This type of poll could be used as a quick quiz to gauge student engagement or it could be used to provoke class discussion.  The free text poll allows an instructor to ask a question and for students to text in their free text answers.  This could be a great way to brainstorm keywords or to get feedback or answer questions that students might feel uncomfortable to ask.  This could be especially for encouraging shy students to participate in discussions.  Both poll types update in real time without much of a delay.

Poll Everywhere has a variety of pricing options from free to $1400 a month (http://www.polleverywhere.com/plans).  Their free version includes up to 30 responses per poll which could work for some classroom settings.  For $15 a month you can bring that up to 50 responses.  Both versions require participants to text in a number rather than a keyword, which could get confusing.  For $65 a month, instructors can choose the keywords that students text for their answers.

In general, I think Poll Everywhere could be a great (possibly free) alternative to clickers in the classroom setting.  My only concern would be the cost to students.  While many of our students have unlimited text message plans, some do not.  Poll Everywhere does have one workaround;  students can choose to vote via a website instead.  This would, of course, only work in computer classrooms or for those who have unlimited data plans on their phones.    I think that as long as the activity is not required, it could be a great tool for any kind of classroom or even presentation setting.

Andy Burkhardt at Champlain College wrote on his experience using Poll Everywhere for library instruction back in October on his blog.  Check it out here: http://andyburkhardt.com/2010/10/25/poll-everywhere-in-library-instruction/

Hope to see/ meet many of you at the ACRL conference this week!

-Carissa

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Working with Wiggio

A while ago I wrote a blog entry on wikis, specifically WetPaint Wikis.  One major reason that people use wikis is that they can provide a centralized place to work on committee or group projects.  While wikis are extremely versatile and can be used for multiple purposes, they don’t generally have an inherent structure which means that someone has to carefully set up the structure much like one would build a website.  If you need a centralized place for group work and want something even easier than a wiki, Wiggio is the place for you!  Unlike wikis, Wiggio was created with the specific purpose to facilitate online group work and contains many additional features that wikis don’t provide.

Wiggio incorporates a variety of social technologies into an easy-to-use shared web portal.  Next time your committee needs a shared online space, simply set up a Wiggio page and invite members of your committee to the page.  You’ll be able to not only share links, documents, polls, and a calendar, but Wiggio also gives you a variety of mechanisms to communicate directly on or from the group page.  Wiggio allows group members to leave typed or voice recorded notes for each other as well as easily send email or text messages to group members directly from the group page.  Wiggio also incorporates virtual meeting software into the group page so members can chat online, hold a teleconference (at a phone number provided by Wiggio), and even have a virtual meeting with full screen and document sharing,  as well as webcam capabilities.

Wiggio seems to run incredibly smoothly and with the exception of Java for the virtual meeting presenter, does not require any additional software.  Best of all… Wiggio is completely free!  That said, Wiggio does contain sponsored links and states on their FAQs that they will be adding additional “premium” components that will require a paid membership.   Try it out with your committee work, suggest it to your students for group projects, use it to co-author your next article- Wiggio is a great technology for any collaborative work you might have.   Overall, I highly recommend Wiggio.

PollDaddy: a fun and easy way to engage students

On the small scale, PollDaddy can be used in the classroom to receive immediate feedback on student understanding. Changing what was once a pop quiz into something more along the lines of a game show.

On the large scale, when making plans for the library’s future, PollDaddy can be used to gather input from patrons. For example, a ten-question survey could provide invaluable information on what students need in a study space and look for when it’s time to take a break. Additionally, simple polls can be used on a continual basis. A poll on the library’s homepage could serve as an informal platform from which to ask users a new question every week. What hours are you most likely to be found in the library? What floor do you nap on? Would you bring your laptop to the library if…?

Click image to link to actual poll.

Click image to link to actual poll.

It’s useful and it’s easy. I was able to register a new account and create this poll in less than 15 minutes. It would have taken only five minutes if I had planned out my question and answers ahead of time.

It’s also flexible. You can choose from several different designs and question types or customize your polls / surveys using CSS. Once your question(s) and the answer options have been entered, PollDaddy generates code that can simply be pasted into your website(s). One poll / survey can be placed on multiple sites and the results entered at each location will be conveniently gathered on your PollDaddy account.

The free account offers unlimited polling and up to 100 survey responses per month for surveys with a maximum of 10 questions. It does not include analysis capabilities. PollDaddy Pro is available for $200 per year. It too offers unlimited polling, allows up to 1,000 survey responses for surveys with any number of questions, removes PollDaddy branding, and includes analysis capabilities such as customized reports, voter location, and removal of repeat votes from the same IP address.

Sign up for a free account . Try it out on your website, blog, social networking profile, etc. Useful for fun and for research, it may become your new favorite tool.