How Polls Can Enhance Your Classroom

poll picture 2Instructors always want to know what their students are thinking. They traditionally accomplish this on a daily basis through posing questions to the class or individual students to gauge their understanding. They also ask students to demonstrate their knowledge through quizzes and tests.

While the results of these oral or written assessments guide instructors in adjusting the lessons to suit their students’ needs, unfortunately, this important information often comes too late to create a noticeable impact in the course. Distributing a poll is a solution to this problem.

Polling students is similar to asking a question to a student body, except that the results are received very quickly and are often more accurate than a count of a raise of hands.

Aided by technology, the use of polling in a course can benefit an instructor in many ways, including:

  • Informing him which materials need to be reviewed
  • Enhancing classroom engagement (especially if the course is asynchronous)
  • Pinpointing which particular students are struggling
  • Reaching students who are less apt to speak in class

Below are a number of popular polling services which might enhance your classroom:

Poll Everywhere – This polling product provides nearly instantaneous feedback to aid the teacher. An instructor can choose from multiple types of polls and questions to distribute to his class and students can respond via text message or online. The results are automatically analyzed and no response is left unaccounted.

Doodle – While many learners are comfortable learning from a distance, it is often valuable to meet up, whether online or in a person, a number of times during the semester. Doodle is a simple scheduling tool which allows an organizer to poll participants in order to determine which meeting time would work best.

Survey Monkey – This polling system is perfect for distributing surveys to any number of respondents. With an intuitive interface and helpful instructions, users can choose from many question types to create the perfect survey. Once responses are submitted, useful analytics break down the responses to inform the creator of what he needs to know.

Flisti – This straightforward, polling program is incredibly easy to use and gets straight to the point. Since no account is required to use Flisti, one can literally create a poll within seconds. Once the poll is created, the creator embeds it on a blog or website through which students can access and respond to it. Flisti is ideal for quick, class polls which do not need to be broken down by individual students.

Socrative – Tech savvy teachers will find much use for Socrative in their classrooms. This program is available on any computer or mobile device. Best utilized during class time, instructors and students both access Socrative through their personal accounts. Teachers can quiz students or ask simple questions and receive real-time results. The results are analyzed by individual students and instructors can easily identify classroom trends and specific student needs.

ClassPager – Messages from this polling system go straight to a student’s cell phone. Instructors can text reminders and polls to their students while ClassPager keeps phone numbers secure and confidential. Students respond by text and the instructor receives their responses. This smooth means of communication enables teachers to constantly measure their students’ progress.

How do you use polls in your classroom?

Open Source Textbooks [INFOGRAPHIC]

Imagine thousands of students acquiring digital versions of their college textbooks. Imagine that each textbook was tailored to precisely suit the exact needs of each course. Now imagine that those textbooks are free.

This is the reality that open source textbooks, a new phenomenon in higher education, might one day create.

Open source textbooks are textbooks composed of material that is open and free to the public. Textbooks might be created through a Creative Commons license or simply compiled by professors using resources which are always available to the public, like articles or certain videos. In addition, companies such as OpenStaxCollege, FlatWorld, Lumen, and Boundless strive to produce open source textbooks on a grand scale and still enable professors and students to use them free of charge or at a very low cost.

While most instructors do not yet embrace this new textbook design, some positive factors might propel opens source textbooks into mainstream education.

  • Price – The rising price of textbooks hurts many students. In response, some professors are turning to open-source textbooks as a way to enable all of their students to participate in the course and keep their money.
  • Personalized – Open source textbooks enable professors to have much more control over what the students study. Instead of skipping chapters or distributing piles of handouts, they can customize the textbooks to exactly what they want to teach.
  • Comtemporary – Professors can update the textbook based on current event. This is an easy way to easily demonstrate a subject’s practicality to students.

Check out this infographic from eLearning Infographics to learn more about the history of open educational resources.

The History of Open Educational Resources Infographic


New Strategy Would Drop College Textbook Costs to Zero by Carrie Wells on

Free Textbooks Shaking Up Higher Education by Victor Luckerson on

How Some Colleges are Offering Free Textbooks by Emanuella Grinberg on

The Digital Textbook Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]

The way in which students access information is in a constant state of change. While many students are loyal to traditional textbooks, many seek to use more modern, digital textbooks in their studies. This infographic from outlines different aspects of the digital textbook revolution.

eBooks – These are often cheaper, lighter, and easier to store and transport than traditional textbooks.

Rentals – Companies offer both textbook and eBook rentals. Many students favor this over purchasing textbooks because it is less costly.

Tablets – Because they are lightweight and easy to use, tablets are a great way for students to access their textbooks digitally. Many programs allow students to interact with the text, making it an active learning experience.

Innovation – In addition to eBooks, other programs like education apps and iTunesU, are rising in popularity as a digital form of enabling learning.


7 Tips for Linking Videos to an Online Course

video cameraEverybody loves videos. Whether feature films or short, creative clips, they are viewed as a way to spark interest and take a break from the usual classroom rhythm.

The nature of an online classroom is ideal for video use. Instructors can easily link videos to the course and enable their students to learn beyond a limited text. However, if not implemented correctly, videos can be a roadblock which bring frustration prevent learning.

Here are seven tips to enhance your use of videos in your online classroom.

  1. Serve a purpose – Videos can be exciting and flashy, but make sure that they truly add something to the course. Inform the students why the video is important and what they can expect to gain from watching it.
  2. Accessible – A fantastic video will not be of any benefit if the students cannot view it. If you used the video in a previous semester, check that the link still works. Also, be sure that it can be played on different types of computers and operating systems.
  3. Appropriate length – A video needs to be just the right length to keep a student’s attention and to communicate the purpose of the clip.
  4. Engaging – A video is not necessarily engaging. Although it can be a break from the norm and be exciting because of special features, be sure that it is not boring. Try to find a clip which brings students in and motivates them to watch it until the end.
  5. Interactive – Just like an instructor might provide instructions for a guided reading, arrange a dynamic element to the assignment. Strategies could include things like a quiz at the conclusion of the clip, a response paper, or even something creative to keep students on track (think “Where’s Waldo?).
  6. Take advantage of the internet – The internet offers many educational video resources. Some websites like AcademicEarth, BigThink, and TED-Ed (learn more about TED-Ed here) offer great options. Also, many YouTube channels specifically focus on academic fields.
  7. Know about copyright – Be aware of each linked video’s copyright status. This information can often be found in the “Terms of Use”

How do you use videos in your online classroom?


Lights, Camera, Learn!: Five tips for using video in eLearning by Veronica Phillips on

8 tips for creating video in online learning by Meris Stansbury on

How to Start Curating Content

Stack of bindersContent curation is a way of collecting online resources in an organized manner and then effectively sharing them with a chosen audience.

The amount of valuable information online can at times seem overwhelming. Curate those materials to best take advantage of everything that the internet has to offer. This technique allows professors to strategically keep track of all interesting digital discoveries and easily retrieve them to use as course material.

Fortunately, there are many free, easy-to-use tools available to facilitate the process.

Here are six great tools to help you organize your online classroom:

Bundlr – create bundles of online resources which can be shared and embedded on websites.

Delicious – build a personal search engine composed of saved links.

Diigo – store information in a personal library with the opportunity to annotate and collaborate.

Evernote – gather resources with Web Clipper, share and access on any computer or mobile device.

Pinterest – pin pictures, articles, and videos onto virtual bulletin boards. To learn more, click here.

TheHubEdu – organize information on “shelves” to share with others.

Which tool works best for you?

Using the Explain Everything iPad App to Give Feedback on Student Work

Explain Everything app logo

Explain Everything is a powerful iPad app that provides an interactive whiteboard for creating screencast presentations.

With the Explain Everything app, you can import documents, pictures, videos, sound files, or browser windows to your project, and then add drawings annotations, animations, or voiceover narrations. The final project can then be recorded and shared with other people.

Here are 4 examples of how instructors can use the Explain Everything App to provide feedback on student work:

  1. In this video, Mark Anderson goes through many of the tools included in the Explain Everything app. At 4:00 in the video, Mark starts to explains how you can use ExplainEverything for feedback, and the sample feedback itself begins at 6:20.

  2. Jon Tait demonstrates how he provides feedback on a student’s work using Explain Everything.

  3. T. Wood gives descriptive feedback on how a student attempted to solve a math problem. At 2:54, he gives handwritten feedback, and at 3:51 he gives the feedback in the form of an audio narration, together with Explain Everything’s laser pointer tool.

  4. Janet Neyer gives audiovisual feedback on her student’s paper.

Learn more about the Explain Everything app by watching these video tutorials.

* The Explain Everything logo is the sole and exclusive property of MorrisCooke.

5 Online Tools for Creating Educational Infographics

Want to present complex information to your students in a clear, organized, visual, and engaging form?

Create your own educational infographics using these 5 easy infographic-building tools:


  2. Piktochart

  5. Venngage

*, Piktochart,,, and venngage logos are the sole and exclusive properties of their respective companies.