The concept of the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement in education has been around for a couple of years, however, its feasibility is increasing as more and more students have high tech gadgets in their pockets. While the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) allows for students to have these devices at school, they must be turned off while on school property. The DSBN does allow individual schools to make the call whether they will allow devices to be used in classrooms, however, and has been embraced by Eden High School in St. Catharines.
The negative points of having devices in the classroom can be easy to come up with: easy distractions, disruptive for the teacher during lessons, etc. However, as these devices become a normal part of the students’ life, it will be harder and harder to regulate their use. Embracing BYOD policies could help encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning by allowing them to use their own technology to create, respond, and learn within the classroom.
One such approach to using BYOD is through the service PollEverywhere.com. This service provides an easy, cost effective way to allow students to respond to questions posed by the teacher by texting, tweeting, or using a web browser. The responses are collected and results are shown almost immediately. The cost of response clickers from distributors such as SMART runs about $1500-$2000 for a classroom (20-30 students), while Poll Everywhere’s service is free for classrooms smaller than 40 students. This means that the same experience of class polling can be reached, while having little to no cost as long as students can bring their own devices.
Setting up polls is simple. When you have registered for the service (free), you can start by making polls/questions through the “Polls” link in the top left of the browser. Once polls are created, they can be viewed in the web browser, or exported to PowerPoint as an interactive, self-updating slide. This option is available for each question on the right hand side of the browser when you are looking at an individual question. These slides can be copied and pasted to any presentation you have, without effecting functionality.
The instructions on how to respond is on the PowerPoint or web browser (the slide includes what number to text, and what the responses can be), although it can become overwhelming initially due to the amount of information displayed. However, once the teacher and the students are used to the technology, Poll Everywhere becomes an effective tool to engage students, allow full class participation without singling out students, and create the same experience as expensive clickers for a fraction of the price.
A tour is available on their website to further instruct how to use their service, found here.