How I Use It
I have used Plickers to assess students' knowledge of the week's vocabulary words prior to their quiz on them. This worked well. Students enjoyed seeing the graph of the results, and I could see immediately who hadn't studied, allowing me to conference with students or contact home if necessary. In my excitement to use the product, I also used Plickers as a survey tool. For example, I wanted to know which of the four summer reading books the students read, so I asked it as a multiple choice question. I figured I could use the results to form discussion groups. As I was going through the results, and typing up the groups, I realized it would have been easier and saved time if I had just had the students write their answers on a Post-it. I could have very quickly moved the Post-its around into groups ( I was typing the names into groups either way). So, I guess it isn't the most efficient means of getting information depending on what the results are used for. If, however, the results are being used to track growth, or assess comprehension, it's nice to have a record. Setting up the cards took some time. It's a nice feature that the same cards can be used for multiple classes. I glued the printouts onto card stock, and wrote the students' names on the back. I also liked that the answers are small so that students can't see each others answers (for both cheating purposes and privacy concerns). I did have issues with the speed with which answers were recorded in larger classes, but I guess this would vary depending on connectivity strength.
I like Plickers primarily as a formative assessment tool. I like that it is is free, and that data can be instantly recorded when technology isn't readily available to all students. Some colleagues who have used it are concerned that using the app on their phone in class uses their data when wifi isn't strong or available. I like that this can be used to immediately tell whether a student has the concept, so if it is done as an exit ticket, groups can be formed for the next day's instruction based on the results. Having a record of these results will be helpful in tracking growth in a particular skill/concept if the skill/concept is reassessed. Keep in mind that to use this as a whole class experience, the types of questions that can be asked would have to be limited to ones that are short, with answers that are short since you are expecting the students to hold up their responses at approximately the same time. Questions that ask facts or vocabulary work perfectly. Opinion questions work well too if the goal was to promote discussion on a topic. If you wanted to used Plickers to record the responses for longer questions, or questions that asked about a student's reading comprehension, students could work at their own pace recording answers on an answer sheet, then hold up their responses when all students were finished. Overall, if Plickers is used to inform instruction and/or tot rack growth, it can be a wonderful tool, but to use it just as a novelty may not be worth the effort required to set it up.