Voting Without Machines

As it would happen, I ended up in a discussion of my Computer Science course at the university.  One of the topics was about classroom placement practice and how frustrated one of the students were.  Their associate wanted to try those clicking devices in their class but they “weren’t a computer expert” so they asked the student to figure it out and show them.

This results in a panic email to me and so we went back and forth to eventually get things installed and configured on the student’s laptop.  She demoed and tried it the next day with mixed results.  The ultimate solution was to have the students put their heads down on their desk and raise their hand to “vote”.  Tallying was done with a manual count and results displayed on the chalkboard.  It was hardly an elegant solution but it did work.

In today’s world of BYOD, the situation is different.  Students can vote using a number of online solutions.  But, what if not everyone has a device?  Is there an intermediate solution?  It turns out there is – it’s an application called Plickers.

All that you require is a teacher with a device with the software installed – like an iOS or Android device – and the students have a printed card.  When it comes time to “vote”, students hold up their card and the device reads and records the results.

Well, I just had to try that out here in the lab.

I downloaded the application to my phone and then went to the Plickers site to get a card.  If you want, you can purchase cards from them or print yourself a set of cards downloaded in PDF format from their website.

Then, I need my class.  That’s a little difficult since I have a staff of one and he has difficulty holding the card since he doesn’t have an opposable thumb.  And, he only understands one question “Do you want to go for a walk?”.  If the truth be told, he didn’t really need the card.  A tail wag suffices!

But, we survived.  Results were 100% each time he was queried.

Actually, the complete steps from the Pickers website are:

How to Use Plickers

  1. Download the Plickers app for your Android or iOS device
  2. Print or order Plickers cards to use with your students
  3. Create a class on Plickers.com
  4. Add a question on your mobile app
  5. Scan student responses
  6. Review data
  7. Repeat!

It’s an interesting concept.  Is anyone using Pickers?

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