Socrative is a virtual student response system, or virtual ‘clicker’, that helps you engage with your students and assess the level of their understanding, amongst other things, during your face-to-face lectures.
Both the teacher app and the student app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes App Store and from Google Play. Socrative can also be used by both teachers and students alike via the Socrative website. The interface of the apps and the web-based version is exactly the same.
What are student/classroom/audience response systems and of what use are they?
A classroom response system is a set of hardware (handheld clickers for the students and a transmitter for the lecturer’s PC) and software (installed on the lecturers PC) that allows the lecturer to pose questions during class which the students can answer via their handheld clickers. The responses are aggregated immediately and the results are displayed as a bar chart for all to see and discuss.
Classroom response systems can serve many purposes. For example, they can even be used to register attendance as well as pose a vast range of question types right from basic recall type questions to questions that check conceptual understanding; questions that encourage critical thinking and that operate at the higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy; questions that require students to apply their knowledge to certain situations; as well as questions that ask students to share opinions and experiences on, for example, legal or ethical issues. The data gathered while using these response systems can be downloaded later for review and can form part of both your formative and summative assessment strategy.
Socrative is a virtual classroom response system which effectively turns your students’ phones into handheld clickers. Not all departments and schools can afford to buy handheld response systems and this is where apps like Socrative come in. Socrative can do everything that the handheld system can do, and more, and all for free!
Socrative allows you to present your students with quizzes (that you prepared before class) as part of your continuous assessment strategy; initiate opinion polls mid-class to gauge understading or spark discussion; pit groups against each other in the ‘space race’; or request a text based ‘exit ticket’ to gather some feedback on how they found the lecture/tutorial and what they learnt from it. Socrative can also facilitate the use of other classroom assessment techniques (CATs) as well such as ‘the muddiest point’ via the ‘short answer’ option.
Just like the handheld systems, results from Socrative polls are aggregated and can be displayed immediately to all present, and the results from the quizzes and exit tickets can be downloaded later for review. A big advantage of apps like Socrative is that you do not have to be in the same physical room as your students to use it like you do when using the handheld systems. If you are running a webinar for example you can still invite your students to take part in polls and quizzes via Socrative and display the results by logging into the teacher’s web-based version and sharing your screen within the webinar software with your remote students.
Socrative is very easy to use. When you create an account as a teacher you are assigned a Socrative ‘room number’. All your students need to log in and take part in your quizzes and polls is this room number, and then they will be prompted to type in their name.
To get started with Socrative watch the 2.44 minute tutorial below, which gives a great overview of the tool and lets you see each of the options available to you and from both the teacher and student perspectives. Then, if you like it, browse through their easy to follow User Guide that is based on screenshots and which explains everything you’ll need to know in a little more detail.
Can integrating a student response app, such as Socrative, further enhance, or even transform, student activity in the higher education context?
Absolutely! But as always, evaluate your use of Socrative against the SAMR model.
Asking basic recall type questions to check if your students remember certain facts etc. from the previous lecture, or from readings that has been assigned, does provide you with valuable feedback, however, you could have just asked for a show of hands, or asked questions verbally and chose different students to answer. So, using Socrative in this way is really just ‘substitution’ as per the SAMR model.
Posing an opinion type question and asking all of the students to think about their response and submit their answer (either an agree/disagree or a text type answer) via Socrative does mean that they all have to think about the issue and form an opinion rather than just the person who happens to raise their hand first! The results can be used then as a trigger for class discussion when the students can see where the class as a whole stands on the issue. In this case, using Socrative has enhanced the activity in some way.
Let’s bring this activity a little step further. I was at a session earlier in the year where Simon Lancaster (@) talked about how he uses different technologies to engage students in class and to support the flipped classroom approach that he is taking. Some information on flipped classrooms will come up in the context of some of the other apps we’ll be exploring in this series, but if you have a few minutes read this article ‘Flipping Lectures and Inverting Classrooms’ written by Simon Lancaster and David Read, as it talks a little about building into your face-to-face sessions a successful formative assessment strategy using Socrative. It talks about how Socrative can enhance interactivity and gives an example of how the data gathered live via the audience response tool can be used to move the process on further and facilitate peer instruction.
“When a cohort of students returned a range of answers to a multiple choice question, the students then found someone nearby they disagreed with in order to exchange explanations before the question was polled again…”
But can Socrative begin to transform your teaching practices and your students’ learning experiences? How about using Socrative to support a Question-Driven Instruction approach to learning which wouldn’t be as effective without the immediate feedback from your students that a student response system, or an app like Socrative, can provide? This approach combines teaching with peer instruction and the entire lesson plan consists of questions than can be pushed out via Socrative. You start by posing a question on a particular topic, your explanation of which will be determined by the answers you get to the question and the ensuing discussion amongst the group. You then pose further questions on that same topic and as the students begin to perform well, you move onto questions on other topics. If students perform badly on a topic then further questions are pushed out on that same topic until they begin performing well again allowing you to move on once more. There isn’t a traditional lesson plan for these kinds of sessions, and you’ll never know which questions from your bank of questions that you’ll be using in class either, rather the course you take during the class is determined by the students alone and their immediate learning needs.
“I’ve used socrative to support student engagement and formative assessment during class time across two modules. The interface is very streamlined and user-friendly; to the extent where the instructor can even write and push out in-class questions minutes in advance of a lecture (and on occasion during the lecture itself if struck by a moment of inspiration!). Students seem to engage enthusiastically with this tool if implemented correctly, although I believe some caution should be exercised by instructors in ensuring such online quizzes aren’t employed over zealously, thus risking student fatigue. Socrative boasts several major advantages over similar audience response apps/resources. Chief among these are the fact that it is free to use for students and instructors, which is essential in many learning environments. It can also be used smoothly via the browser on any internet-enabled device, thus eliminating the need to download an app (although student and instructor apps are available for both iOS and android). The user limit of 50 may prove prohibitive for larger class groups if formal in-class assessment data is required, although in my experience socrative can still provide a richly informative snapshot of student comprehension in real time for large class groups.”
1. Download the teacher Socrative app from either the iTunes App store or Google Play
2. Create an account and log in to get your own private room number
3. On your PC go to www.Socrative.com and log in as student to your own room
4. Try out some of the features and answer your own questions as a student
5. Try it out with your own students!
Don’t forget to tweet #12appsDIT your opinion of this app, or indeed post a comment below. Let us know your ideas on how to use it effectively with students to transform teaching, learning and assessment practices. The more we share, the more we learn!
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