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Pros: Simplicity and clarity help give a quick, valuable gauge of students' understanding, viewpoints, and questions in real time.
Cons: The outdated design makes new features such as text-to-speech, more moderation support for teachers, or direct teacher-student feedback capability unlikely.
Bottom Line: It's an easy-to-learn, practical tool for online formative assessment and limited student interaction.
Start the class with GoSoapBox by asking a warm-up question about the day's objectives or conducting a short Q&A review of yesterday's lesson. Quick polls can give you a sense of student understanding and inform your instruction as you move through a lesson. Polls can also help you handle logistical issues or add choice for students via questions like "What is the best way to assess this lesson?" Maximize transition times using a discussion prompt such as "Why do copyright laws exist?" as a setup for the next activity.
Teachers may find the Social Q&A tool disruptive during lectures or classwork, but it can be useful for addressing student confusion or for gathering questions to address later. The Confusion Barometer may give a sense of how the class is feeling; however, since students can time-out if idle for too long, it's not an accurate gauge of class understanding as a whole. If collecting data on individual students over time is important, have students create an account. Joining as a guest (the typical route) may be problematic for long-term data collection, especially if students use different devices over time.
GoSoapBox is a web-based student response system that allows students to submit replies online or from any mobile device. Teachers create events that students join by entering an access code. Teachers may require students to provide names, but only the teacher sees them. Moderators can easily adjust settings in the Moderation Panel, which serves as a de facto teacher dashboard. The site's polling feature is a great place to start by asking quick poll questions. As students respond, all users can see the results graphically, in real time. The Confusion Barometer tool allows students to indicate confusion, but if teachers want to know what, exactly, is confusing, they'll need to activate the Social Q&A, where students can type their questions and reply to their classmates' questions. Teachers can respond to questions, mark them as answered, or delete them, and only teachers can see students' names. For more extended engagement, teachers can add discussions and/or multiple-choice and short-answer quizzes. Quizzes offer students instant feedback on correct and incorrect responses, and the Discussions tool allows group members to comment -- anonymously if the teacher desires -- on a post. For math teachers, equation formatting is available.
Since the content in the Help and Support Center and the developer's social media pages haven't been updated in several years, it's unlikely that new features will be added. Still, features such as audio capabilities and opportunities for teachers to interact directly with individual students would be excellent improvements for both functionality and engagement.
GoSoapBox expedites certain teacher tasks, in many ways simplifying and enriching formative assessment. Instead of asking for a show of hands, a teacher simply opens an anonymous poll. A bonus: Teachers can conduct polls in a traditional or virtual classroom setting. The quiz feature can also be a real time-saver, though the ability to record data long-term is iffy. Nevertheless, the site scores multiple-choice quizzes and gives teacher-supplied feedback -- individualized comments aren't possible. Kids will find the site intuitive and will enjoy the novelty of interacting with their peers.
There are caveats, of course. Without handy computer access or a 1-to-1 program, students will need to use their own devices, which can present equity issues. Also, while students' anonymity can be a useful -- and empowering -- tool for certain activities, it could also create disruptions in certain situations. If using GoSoapBox's anonymous features, it's important for teachers to remind students that they can see who's saying what and to teach clear standards for behavior and communication, including respectful disagreement. Overall, teachers may want to consider some of the larger implications. Depending on how they're used, tools like GoSoapBox could foster greater engagement and inclusion during class discussions; overuse, however, could take real-time attention away from the focus on the students themselves.