If you’re looking for ways to increase interactivity and get more student feedback in your courses, classroom response systems are a great tool and there are lots of options available to you. This article will cover some pros and cons of 6 of the most popular and commonly used systems at UT.
Hint: scroll all the way to the bottom for details about the “best” option(aka: most fun and it’s FREE).
We’ll start with the three paid options that are recommended (and endorsed) by the Faculty Innovation Center:
This is the physical devise that students can purchase at the UT bookstore, requires that they remember to bring it, replace the batteries, etc. But is the most widely used across campus. Note: FIC does NOT endorse the Reef mobile app.
Because of the cost associated with it, the FIC folks do not endorse or recommend using the REEF mobile app. Like the options that follow, students are billed per course (as opposed to the one-time cost of the physical device), and the other options are less expensive.
Squarecap was created just a few years ago by a UT professor and has come a long way in only 3 or 4 years.
Students and faculty access Squarecap in much the same way. When you first go to the system and tell it you want to connect via Canvas, you authorize it to access your Canvas account, much like you do with Google Drive or LinkedIn, then you log in with your UT credentials (EID or email and password).
Faculty can then create what Squarecap calls a “lecture”. This is the quiz, survey, question bank, or whatever else you’re using this system for. Basically, the lecture is your set of questions you want students to respond to.
Students, on the other hand, must first pay for a subscription to use the service.
UT students get a 20% discount (see image above for details).
Notes on use: It’s REALLY easy to get up and running with questions or a quiz for a course!!!
Seems to offer more services and bells and whistles than Squarecap but is also more complicated to set up an account and get started…and also more expensive.
When you first set up an account, there are several steps to go through before you can DO anything… it asks if you’re a student or faculty/admin, then you enter account into (name, email, password, etc.). Next, you have to create a “course”:
Once you create a course (should be named to match the course it’s a part of to make things easy…), you’re then taken to the “create content” page where, like lots of meeting apps, there’s a “join code” that is included as part of the URL. Students then log in to the URL and enter the join code.
Students create their own account when they first access the system. That’s when they choose how much to pay:
It’s important to keep in mind that while the first two options (Poll Everywhere and Sli.do) have free versions, there are paid versions that have additional features. Kahoot! on the other hand, is completely free for instructors and students. More details below…
Poll Everywhere is a popular option being used by various colleges and school at UT, including the College of Education and the Dell Medical School. Within certain limitations it is free to use and very user-friendly for instructors and students alike. However, for classes larger than 40 students, the free option is just not… an option.
Sli.do is another great free option which has fewer limitations than Poll Everywhere in terms of the number of users. Sli.do allows up to 1000 users and as long as you’re not creating more than 3 polls or quizzes per “event”, the free option is perfect.
Completely free to use, Kahoot! is a game-based classroom response system developed mostly for K-12 classrooms with an aim to make learning fun and competitive. But can also be used for serious subjects too and is already being used by instructors across UT.
Kahoot is by far the most FUN of all these options and if you’re trying to liven up your classes, this is definitely the best bet.
To learn more about Kahoot! including how to create your very first quiz, check out this other blog post: Getting Started with Kahoot!
Finally, as a bonus, let’s not forget about the features built right in to Canvas. If you’re doing nothing more than polling, Canvas does have a polling app.
If you have any questions about these or any other Classroom Response Systems or you’d like to schedule a demo or 1-on-1 training session, please don’t hesitate to contact me.