For those of you who want to harness the power of students’ electronic devices and use this power for good, rather than Facebook, the online Socrative tool might be the totally free solution for you. Roughly 2/3 of college students own smart phones, and overall smartphone ownership is expected to double in the next three years. I don’t know if that means that 1/3 of students will own two phones in the near future, but it definitely means that there is a great opportunity to do more with these in your classes. Socrative can help.
Like similar products (Poll Everywhere), Socrative allows students to use smartphones, iPads, or laptops to access online polling and give real-time feedback in your live lectures. Post a multiple-choice question, ask students about their feelings on a scale from 1 to 5, or have them take a self-graded quiz. Students just have to log in, type in your session number, and begin the activity.
Unlike other products, Socrative can export the data from a poll or quiz to an Excel spreadsheet for your analysis or for grading typed short-answer questions. Unfortunately, it is limited to fifty participants per session, but that is more than Poll Everywhere allows in its free version. If you’re interested, their webpage lets you work through a demonstration as a teacher and student. Below is a video walk-through of this demo, where I go over some of Socrative’s functions and how you might use them in your courses.