Innovation That Matters

Classroom polls via student phones and iPods


It’s not uncommon for educators to use student response systems (SRS) to engage their students and assess learning through polls, quizzes and other interactive tools. Most such systems rely on specialized devices known as “clickers,” however, and they’re also typically expensive and difficult to use without training. Enter Top Hat Monocle, a Canadian company that has developed a system in which students can use the portable devices they already have, including cell phones, laptops and iPods. Teachers begin with Top Hat’s monocleCAT by registering for free and then creating an online course in about 60 seconds, the company says. Top Hat’s design team then works with the teacher to create tailored interactive content. An intuitive tool can help create questions, or existing ones can be imported; a free training program, meanwhile, offers advice culled from other professors using the system. Either way, the system can then be used to conduct polls and quizzes, interactive demos and collaborative learning exercises in class via students’ own devices. Students can participate anonymously or for a grade, and their aggregated responses can be graphically represented in real time for all the class to see. Individual grades, on the other hand, can be exported to a spreadsheet at any time. Students register to use monocleCAT at their campus bookstore; pricing ranges from CAD 6 per month to CAD 120 for lifetime access. Just as mobile apps have come to dominate many companies’ interactions with consumers, so it makes perfect sense to see mobile devices put to work in the classroom. An offering similar to Top Hat’s, incidentally, comes from Poll Everywhere. Either way, the potential is exciting not just for teachers but also for speakers and event organizers. One to help localize and bring to your neck of the global auditorium..?



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