Checking student understanding with Plickers

It’s likely that most of the people reading this post have used or heard of clickers: in-class polling systems that allow instructors to gauge student knowledge, understanding, or interest in a topic.

Whether you use Poll Everywhere, Turning Point, the student-generated Cliqur system, or something else, this technology can be handy for facilitating student-centered, active peer instruction. Check out Eric Mazur’s peer instruction demo in this video link to see clickers in action.

However, one downside to using clickers is that, like with any technology, sometimes, they don’t work. Students forget to bring them to class, or they don’t have a clicker-enabled device for entering responses. Updates to software and/or limits on the number of free responses you can solicit can also impact usage possibilities.

One interesting potential solution to this problem is an app and a set of physical, laminated cards called Plickers (check out a link to the Plickers site here).

This polling technology allows a teacher to print out free cards from the Plickers website (here’s a link to the place where you can do that), or buy a durable, reusable set of laminated cards to distribute to students. The instructor also needs to download the Plickers app to a smart device. Students select the answer to the question the instructor asks by orienting their card in a particular direction, and then the instructor uses the app to “scan” the classroom. Once the cards have been scanned, the instructor can display the results of the quiz via the projector.

Check out this video demo showing how Plickers work in an elementary school math class.

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