Guys, I have a confession. I’m in love. In love with Plickers. Today I’d like to share with you a sneak peek of what it is, how to get started and some of my personal insights of how I am using this amazing application.

Plickers is a web based application that allows you to collect real-time data from your students without need for individual student devices. All you need is an internet connection, two internet enabled devices (one will require a camera, eg phone/tablet), a projector and a set of answer cards. The best news of all – it is entirely FREE!

In a similar way to Kahoot!, you as the teacher can set up a series of questions to ask your class. They may be multiple choice, true/false questions or simply ask an opinion with up to four options as answers. Individual students use a unique answer card,  linked to their name by a number, to answer the questions. The cards act like a barcode and when held up at different angles give different responses to a question, these are scanned with your phone/tablet’s camera to collect data.


A sneak peek of Plickers in action…

Below are screen shots of what a question looks like while it is being asked and what you can see on your devices when you are scanning barcodes.  To the left you can see in the ‘live view’ (your projected laptop screen) that a number of students have answered the question (indicated by the ticks). Then to the right the screen on your phone/tablet while scanning.

After asking a question you can show students the results with bar graphs of how many people picked each of the answers or show how each student in the class answered (I personally avoid this so students arent embarrased of they got something wrong). The whole process is easy and, dare I say, fun.
You can bring up individual students responses, class scoresheets or questions history of responses, and there is the option to export or print different records. From the screen shot below you can probably start to imagine the potential of what you might do with the information you collect with each question asked.


Get yourself started …

To set up an account with Plickers you simply need to go to their website and sign up. Students do not need an account with Plickers. Once you have created your account you will need to set up each of your classes, simply cut and paste your list of student names and it will organise them alphabetically. This is how each student will be assigned an answer card, each numbered answer card is unique and a student must use the card with the same number that they are assigned when you set up the class. I have 15 classes set up so I have fifteen students who use answer card #1,  but this is differentiated by selecting which class you are asking a question of.

After setting up classes you will need to write some questions and then cue them to the class you would like to ask them of. When it is time to ask the questions in class, set up your projector and main device (probably a laptop) and open up to the “live view” tab of the Plickers site. Then open the Plickers App on your second device (phone/tablet) and select the class and the question, this will send the information to your “live view” screen. Students hold up their answer cards with their prefered answer at the top and these are read by the camera in the device and sent to the live view.

Apologies for this terrible explaination of how Plickers works – this is best demonstrated in real life but hopefully it gives you an idea!

My couple of insights…

You can order a set of answer cards through the website but they are free to download and print. Initially I cut and laminated sets of 30 to have at each of my schools. This worked really well but if you do choose to make your own I recommend using matte laminating pouches as reflection on the gloss ones can make the barcodes harder to read. For the classes I use Plickers with more regularly this year I actually printed the barcodes on sticker paper and have them stuck to the back cover of their books – this saves handing out cards each time but is a problem if a book goes missing.

At the moment my students tend to think of Plickers almost as a game rather than an assessment of their knowledge and understanding, which is probably not the worst thing for me because they love doing it. They are highly engaged in seeing how they did (its almost competitive) and we always discuss the answers. Reflecting on why an answer was right or wrong is very important for developing their deeper understanding.

The reason why students see Plickers in this game-like way is probably because I tend to use Plickers more as assessment for learning rather than of learning. We have often used it as a revision activity or an introductory activity to spark discussion. So at present I am barely scratching the surface of what Plickers can be used for. I am not currently using the data collected by the application to its fullest potential but I have plans to more fully integrate this into my programs in the future.

There is so much more I could say about Plickers – I really love the possibilities of the application.

Do you think this would be something in your teaching?

Or do you already use Plickers? How do you make it work in your classroom context – I’d love to know!

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