What does it do?
Plickers is a phone-based application that allows you to collect feedback or formative assessment from students, staff or other participants in a classroom or lecture situation. Unlike other feedback or polling tools, participants just need to hold up a card or piece of paper and the Plickers phone app does the rest!
When would you use it?
Plickers is already being used at Dundee University - Dr Matthew Ward from the School of Humanities is using it in class as a feedback tool, and as a result some of his students have started to use it as well.
Its strength is arguably in its relatively low-tech approach - it can be used simply and quickly without the need for all students or other respondents to download and setup the same app on their phone or device. The Common Sense Education website says in its review of Plickers that the "Paper response cards have an appealing DIY feel, cleverly combining simple tools with mobile technology" .
How does it work?
There are several elements to using Plickers;
- The free app (available for Apple iOS and Android)
- A set of double-sided response cards (which can be downloaded from here)
- The Plickers website which is used to configure class details (matching respondent names to response cards in the set) and set up question sets
Each response card has simple shape printed on it (it looks like a rudimentary QR code) along with a unique number which is assignable to a particular student or respondent. Each card/shape represents a response to a multiple-choice question - students hold it up in response to each question and the app captures it through the camera function. The response data for the class is then relayed to the website and the summary of responses can be displayed as a bar-chart via a projector like any other webpage.
Much of the visible in-class aspects of the application are configurable to your own requirements, although summaries of responses can only be displayed as bar charts. You can, however, download responses as a .csv file and import it into a spreadsheet or document.
Back to Dr Matthew Ward, who says of Plickers "I have used it for a couple of years with both honours and sub-honours undergraduates....pedagogically it can provide a good way of getting all students engaged in class discussion without picking on quieter students who don’t normally participate".
"I try to devise questions that have no clear answer—so not a right or wrong answer. I can then have a discussion with students about why one answer may be more or less applicable than others. I normally don’t use more than four or five questions in any one session and just use Plickers to change the pace of the class for a while".
"It is possible to use Plickers to keep track of individual student responses, assigning each student to a specific card, over the course of an entire semester, as in multiple choice tests, but I have not done that".
Possible downsides to using Plickers include;
- Class size is limited to a maximum of 63
- Only multiple choice or true/false question types are possible
- Some preparation time is necessary to add class details, assign response cards and prepare the question set
- It's web-based and doesn't integrate with My Dundee or other software such as Powerpoint
The video below gives a short overview of the basic features of the app;
And this video is a more in-depth look at working with Plickers;
Where can I access it?
The Plickers app is available from the iOS and Android App stores for free. The response cards can be downloaded on paper (and will last longer if you laminate them), but you can also buy a set of pre-laminated cards from Amazon. The website for managing classes and setting up question banks is only visible once you've signed up via the Plickers website.
Plickers is a simple tool to use and may work well with younger groups who don't habitually have devices with them, or those less inclined to engage with digital technology. It's also better with smaller class sizes.
It's a great low-tech solution for anyone wanting to do in-class formative activities or check understanding. If you don't want to use a technical feedback tool such as the more established Turning Point, and you're prepared to put the preparation time in, it could be just the answer you're looking for.
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Image sourced with permission from https://www.plickers.com/assets/images/LandingPage/244e203e.PlickersSplash2.jpg