A quick look at eClicker polling
I ran across this article by Tony Vincent recently – Four Student Response Systems – where I learned about the eClicker Polling System. It looked like something that might be a good fit for some in-class polling situations, so I purchased the “eClicker Host” app ($9.99) and gave it a try.
In the eClicker system an iOS device becomes a host that can present questions and receive responses. The basic sequence is to create questions, connect responders, collect responses and present results.
For the first step, the question editor is rudimentary. It starts with multiple choice, but you can choose True-False or Agree-Disagree. If you mistakenly choose the latter, you can’t go back to multiple choice – you have to start over.
After you enter questions you are ready to administer a poll. Responders either launch the free “eClicker” app or access the host in a web browser. This system is easiest to use when devices are on the same segment of a wireless network. If that’s the case, iOS devices using the eClicker app should be able to see the host and tap to connect. On connecting, a responder is asked to enter a name. I thought it was strange to require this, but one could enter a fake name or a random number.
If responders are on different segments or using a web browser, they will connect by entering the numeric address of the host. You can find this on the “Clients” tab of the host device. You can use a URL shortener to simplify the address.
At our institution, devices are not likely to be on the same subnet. The manual suggests creating an ad hoc network from a laptop or desktop computer, which works pretty well.
After each question is answered, participants see a brief display of a bar chart summarizing their responses. The instructor can see the responses on the host for a longer period of time, but they are not saved.
I noticed that the device can’t go to sleep while either the host or client app is open. I suppose that is a good thing, but you’d have to be careful.
eClicker vs Poll Everywhere
My first reaction to eClicker was that it was the same idea as Poll Everywhere, but it’s quite different. I took a stab at comparing selected aspects of the two side-by-side:
This article is only a quick look. It gives an introduction to the eClicker system, rather than providing a detailed review. If your question-type needs are simple, eClicker is an excellent system for student responses in classes of 32 students or less. Figure out the simplest way to handle the client-host connection in your room and have at it! The system is not as full-featured as Poll Everywhere, but simpler is often better.