Socrative – a response system web app
Socrative is a simple, web-based response system that works on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Teachers log in and select an activity, then students respond in real time. Responses are summarized visually and the teacher can receive a report via email. The system is free -for now- and you are limited to 50 students.
Does all this sound like Poll Everywhere? It’s similar, but there are major differences.
The company is not quite a year old and I expect that before long there will be an upgraded service that offers new options and more users for a fee. It you take a look at their blog, you’ll notice that the company has been steadily adding features.
I really like the fact that students don’t need accounts; they just need to know which room to enter. Each new account is automatically assigned a room number, but you can give it another unique name if you want.
How does it work?
There are two ways to pose questions …
- Ad hoc – use generic response screens for spontaneous questions or when you don’t want to bother entering answers ahead of time
- Quiz – create and save quizzes by importing questions or entering them at the website. Socrative provides an Excel template to use when importing questions.
… and there are two ways to enter responses
- Pick – multiple choice or true-false
- Type – short answer
The basic steps for posing an ad hoc question are simple:
- Teacher logs in
- Students go to the website and enter the room number
- Teacher poses a question out loud or visually on a board or screen
- Teacher taps the appropriate question type on the screen
- Students see answer options on their screens and respond
- Results appear on teacher’s screen (not student’s)
Socrative offers a specially designed quiz called an “Exit Ticket,” where students complete a pre-set group of questions at the end of class – similar to the popular “minute paper” technique. While I don’t like the set of questions they provide, I love the strategy. I would probably create and save my own quiz and use the same technique. On a quiz, questions can be answered anonymously or you can require students to enter names through a short answer question. The Exit Ticket, for example, asks for names.
To me, “Space Race”is the most intriguing option Socrative provides. The instructor sets up a number of teams and students work through a set of questions. As they enter correct answers, a team’s colored rocket moves across the screen. The team whose rocket moves the farthest wins.
I successfully tested Socrative on an iPad, iPod Touch, laptop and Android tablet. The time between posing questions and receiving responses was pretty fast. On the other hand, the app failed to appear on my low-end phone, which does not run Android or iOS. One major contrast with Poll Everywhere is that in Socrative you cannot respond via text message; even my phone can send texts!
After a student enters a room they see “Waiting for question” and an animated spinner. The only time they don’t see this is when they enter a response. Students see the message even when the teacher is not logged in! Socrative should have more specific messages, like “Waiting for other people’s responses,” “No question open,” or “On hold.” The professor might even be allowed to customize the messages.
Socrative can email the teacher a report on student responses in the form of an Excel file or as a Google spreadsheet viewable in a browser. From a privacy standpoint, it seems to me, the latter option is a bad idea – especially if student names are included.
A student does not see the question results on their Socrative screen (this is something they would receive in Poll Everywhere). Maybe this should be an option. Alternatively, the teacher can work from a laptop and display results on a projection screen.
All in all, I like the system. It is friendly to teachers and students. I generally prefer tools that limit options for the sake of simplicity. Ready to try it out? Click “Sign up” on the website to register.
Notre Dame faculty: I do not recommend that you abandon Poll Everywhere. We provide good support, including the potential for larger classes. Switching to Socrative would cause you to lose some important functionality.