I luuurrv technology. You know why I love technology? It brings something new to a classroom that was more or less impossible before. Sometimes this technology can make no difference, be helpful, sometimes it can be transformative and in other cases it can make you tear out your frickin’ hair. So when I heard about a student response system called Socrative.com I was pretty curious. I mean students can use any device to log onto a website and respond (in real time) to questions.
So which is it? What category does Socrative.com fall into? Only one way to find out, click on past the break to see all the cool screen shots, a how to and a verdict.
What does it do and what do you need?
As I mentioned above it is a student response system. The only person in the class who needs an account is the teacher. Students merely join a room without having to log in. There is no need for a special app, it is all web based. So it doesn’t matter if the student is rocking an iPad, BlackBerry or the latest gaming laptop, they all can participate.
As I mentioned the teacher creates the room and gets a room number, the students will join using that room number. Once everyone is in the room the teacher can ask questions and the students can respond in many different ways (check out the picture below to see what options are available).
Now that you have for of an idea of what Socrative.com, let’s take a closer look at the teacher side and then the student side to see how it all comes together.
The Teacher Socrative Experience
You see Socrative.com is in private beta, meaning you have to be a somebody to get an invite 🙂 Just joking, simply send them an email and the good people at Socrative will get you an account. Mine email took a few hours to have a reply from them. Once you’ve signed up you need to go to this website t.socrative.com (the t stands for teacher). From here it will ask you to login (being a teacher and all).
Once you’ve signed in you are welcomed to that same screen we saw above.
So let’s get knee deep into all of this and start asking some questions. Let’s say I want to know “Why photosynthesis is important?” I merely say the question, write it on the board, etc. The question itself does not show up on Socrative.com. Some people out there may be going “Say what!?!?!” Well I believe this is not an accident. It keeps the pace of the class going and the teacher doesn’t have to slow down to type it out. Just say it.
Let’s say I want my students to answer in a short answer form. All I have to do is click on Short Answer and Socrative does all the rest.
As students submit their answers, they show up on the teacher’s screen in real time. Check out the responses to the ever so important question above (the first answer is Omar’s :)).
As you notice, it does not display who answered what. This is definitely a double-edged sword. I like to use Q & A sessions as a way to check for understanding on topics. It gives me a quick idea of who is on the right track. On the other hand, there are those students who are fearful of peer ridicule. We’ve all seen it, a student raises their hand and gives their “best” answer and everyone has a chuckle and then you rarely hear from that student again. This gives those students some anonymity when answering and when a crazy one pops up, you see it and not the class. It gives them a chance to build a little confidence. If you want people to see the results, you can click Vote on responses and students will see the best answers and can weigh in on which one they feel is better than the rest.
Likewise on multiple choice questions, the teacher will ask the question orally (or written on the board) and students will answer their question by selecting A – E (I don’t think you can add or take away options). You, the teacher will see the rests, but students won’t.
Another neat feature is the ability to create and give quizzes. You can create a quiz and save in Socrative.com or you can make one using their template on Excel and then import it. Either way you have a quiz. When students take the quiz they must provide their name before starting. Once this is done they take the quiz. The quiz itself can be self paced (meaning the students can go as fast or as slow as they want) or you can control the quiz. You also have the ability to randomize the answers (for multiple choice questions). Immediate feedback is neat. Once a student answers a question, they are told if it is correct or not and what the correct answer should be. Check it out below.
While the quiz is going on, you can check out the live results as students answer a question. One problem I saw was that students cannot go back to a question. Once it is answered, it is done. In other words, this probably shouldn’t be used for a final exam but it is a great way to get some immediate feedback from everyone in the room about how things are going. Check out some live results below.
When the quiz is finished, Socrative will let you download the results, email them to you or skip them altogether. Just a little data to help you drive your instruction.
They have a game but it is pretty much the quiz and you can create teams. I guess it is a little fun. The first one to the end wins, but really it doesn’t do much for me though. Check out the image below (just imagine quiz questions for the students). It’s basically who can answer all the questions the fastest. At the end of the activity it generates a report like the quiz.
One feature that was really nice was the ability to have students complete an “Exit ticket.” This little gem pretty much sums up the lesson. It asks the student her/his name, if they understood the lesson (multiple choice), what did they learn today (short answer) and it asks for the student to solve the problem on the board. They cannot leave answer blank. When the activity is done, the teacher is given a report.
When class is over you can Clear room which pretty much kicks everyone out, but it does not change the room number. Meaning if a student knows the room number they could “crash” your class as long as they have a device and an Internet connection. That’s kind of a bummer.
So that’s the teacher perspective, let’s take a look at the student perspective (I promise this will be shorter).
The Student Socrative Experience
This is pretty much what you would expect. For a student they need to go to m.socrative.com (I don’t know what the m stands for). When they get to the website it will ask for a room number. When a student joins a class this is what they will see until the teacher picks a type of question to ask.
When a question is asked, there is no question to read just choices or a place to type in their response. Check out some of the different types of questions below.
That is pretty much it for the Socrative.com the student perspective. Simple straight forward and easy to utilize.
What I like
There is a lot to like. I like how some of the responses are anonymous. It lets the class focus more on the question as opposed to who is answering the question, you know more of a group think idea. I like there is no need for students to have accounts. This makes getting into the room fast and easy. I also like how there is no special website or crazy url. It is the same address no matter what class you’re in. I also like how easy it is to use. There are few items that need to be typed out which means that students can respond quickly so there is little advantage for students who are using a mobile device compared to those who are on laptops.
What I don’t like
I wish that teachers could get new room numbers. It won’t take students long to figure out which teacher is assigned which room number and decide to have “fun.” Of course this is something that may disappear when it gets out of beta.
Thank you Cheryl B for pointing out that you CAN change the room number by clicking on the My Profile button. It is quick, easy and effective.
I wish there was an option for students to put in their name when they joined the class. It would help teachers track students who need extra support a little more closely. While others may not care for that option, I’m sure there just as many who would.
It is a nice service. While I can’t imagine using it day in and day out or for an entire class, it could be a great way to review and perhaps start and finish a lesson. One note, Socrative sent out a survey which I took and among some of the questions to improve the service one was about how much would I pay per month for the service. I understand that the people of Socrative work hard and need a little cash to help keep things going over there, but I wish they would find another way to gather it. At this point I don’t think I would pay for Socrative.com but maybe with some more functionality I may be inclined to consider it. For the time being it is free which is a great price for this handy little service. So give it a try and let me know what you think.