Learning Checkpoints: How do you know if your students ‘get it’?

an image of a student's brain depicting his understanding of course materials using green check marks and red x's as visual cuesUsing online tools to perform a quick learning comprehension check may appear to be identical to pen-and-paper tests and raise-your-hand polls. However, they can actually have a far wider reach and effect on students. Benefits to using these technologies include:

  • Testing your students’ knowledge and tailoring your lesson/review to their comprehension
  • Allowing students to make mistakes anonymously (risk free)
  • Igniting intellectual conversations

The question is, how do polling and quizzing applications differ from their non-technical counterparts?

To answer, let’s look at three free popular online review tools.

1. Kahoot – Game-based classroom response system

This application allows users to create a group of questions with multiple choice answers on a specific topic.

The quizzing is competitive in nature. Students are given points for answering questions correctly. The quicker they answer, the more points they can earn! After all students have responded, or after the time limit runs out, a graph displaying their responses will appear. The current student in the lead will appear on screen after each question.

2. Poll Everywhere – Group Polling, PowerPoint integration

If you’re looking to incorporate quick comprehension checks in your lessons or invite your students to vote on a group discussion topic, check out Poll Everywhere. Unlike Kahoot, this tool allows you to create more than just multiple choice questions; your response options are expanded to clickable images and open ended replies. It is also available from more than just a web browser; students can also text or tweet their responses.

Poll Everywhere also offers a PowerPoint Presenter App. Download it in order to seamlessly incorporate your polls into your PowerPoint presentations

3. Socrative – Individual Assessment

Whereas Kahoot and Poll Everywhere displayed results for all to see, Socrative is more private. Students provide their name and your room code in order to begin. This tool can be used as a gradable quizzing application – scores are tracked and saved in a spreadsheet – or a knowledge check to determine whether the class is ready to move on to the next lesson. A fellow educational blogger, Vicki Davis, used Socrative in class for the latter purpose and, by creating quick questions on the fly, was able to shape her lesson to her students’ needs.

The real strength in these assessment tools is the anonymity granted to students. By keeping responses hidden until everyone has participated, students are encouraged to select the answer they believe to be correct without fear of judgment from their peers. It’s also important to check their knowledge in an ungraded environment. Our goal is to work toward mastery and measuring that progress doesn’t always have to be in the form of a formal assignment or test.

We’ve only dipped our toes in the sea of learning tools! Do you use one we didn’t mention above? Share your knowledge and experiences in the comments below!

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