September 21st, 2012

App Review: Socrative

By:

Product

Socrative (Socrative, Inc.)

Category

Classroom assessment, student response

Overview

A real-time feedback tool to gauge student understanding.

Learning Curve

Fairly easy to use

Rating (5 star scale)

5 stars Very useful tool but with potential for distraction.

Cost:

Free

There is nothing quite like real-time feedback to determine if students really got it! Just about every faculty experiences that look—students’ eyes indicating that they understand or do not understand the explanation given or the conclusions just drawn. But how do we really know that our students are not merely acting the part when they nod in agreement, trying to get us to believe that they understand something when they do not? I have no idea what is really taking place behind those eyes or what is going on in a students’ brain so this is where Socrative comes to the rescue.

Socrative, which runs on tablets, smartphones, and laptops, is an interesting app because it allows me to pose a question and have students respond in real time to my inquiry. I can assess on the fly and best of all, students can use their portable media to provide me with near instant feedback. Clickers do this but the benefit of Socrative is that students do not have to buy anything and I do not have to spend a lot of time developing quizzes using any certain format.

There is, however, one challenge for anyone wishing to use Socrative and that is managing students’ use of their personal portable devices. I well remember reading a blog in The Chronicle of Higher Education where the author said that allowing students to use their portable devices in the classroom is like giving them permission to bring their entertainment center to class. Interesting! That being the case, if you plan on using Socrative or similar apps, you will need to have a plan for how, when, and where during class that you will allow their use. Purposeful use of technology is one thing, but unplanned and unstructured use is an invitation to possible distraction. That being said, finding a way to obtain feedback, using the feedback to create opportunities for expanded discussions, and having the feedback influence students learning is one of the benefits of using a tools such as Socrative.

OK, enough of the preaching; more to the point of using the app. There are two versions of Socrative—a student version and an instructor version. Upon logging in, students enter a room number. The instructor can then see how many students are in the room (he/she can also clear the room), and begin posing questions to the students. The different question options range from multiple choice, True/False, or open-ended questions. Socrative also compiles all the answers and presents it to you on your screen or via email.

Summary:
How should you use Socrative? When would the app prove to be most useful? What guidelines need to be in place to ensure that the focus is on the task at hand and not somewhere else? These are questions that faculty will have to consider prior to using this interactive app. Socrative is a really neat tool and one with a lot of potential as faculty gain experience using it. There are other ways to obtain feedback, e.g. Twitter, e-mail (sounds strange but yes this can work), Blackboard, and another app that I recently found— BaiBoard HD—and need to spend some time with. Best of all, the app is free for both students and faculty (a teacher and student version) and it works well with existing Wi-Fi systems in college classrooms. Best of all, it’s not just for Apple products, there is a version of Socrative for Android users as well.

Dave Yearwood is an associate professor and chair of the technology department at the University of North Dakota.


  • Just started using Socrative in an undergrad nursing classroom – very easy to use and students seem to like the simplicity

    • Brittany Bass

      I am having difficulty uploading the excel template with my quiz into socrative. Have you ever had this problem? I too, also teach a nursing class at community college and I was hoping to be able to use this app.

  • Dave Yearwood

    Great! How do you manage the potential diversion or should I say temptation to students of going elsewhere?

  • VLepore

    I'm using Socratic with library workshops at a community college. I have planned activities that require the students to use the computers for practicing access to databases, and we all use the socratic questions together. After a short demo, I get feedback. Then students "discover" the database strategies while I roam the room to answer questions. Then students apply what they've learned to a database problem, and give those answers and evaulate the workshop in the last Socratic activity. The students are engaged and thankful for the immediate responses. No problem with diversions, because "discovery" is in the air!

    • Dave Yearwood

      This sounds great! Having a focused activity and roaming are two great ways to keep everyone on task. I have somewhat given up on attempts to police what students do with their technologies, unless it becomes distracting to others or to me. Better to spend the time making an interesting, engaging, and thought provoking session and spend less time attempting to fight what, for all intentional purposes, is a losing battle.

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  • Tracy Baptiste

    I am looking forward in using an app like this with my students, once the infrastructure is in place.

    Our Ministry of Education was very proactive in not banning smartphones outright in schools, but gave principals special guidelines. Collectively called mobile handheld electronic communication devices, MHECDs, they recognize that once managed, they are "useful tools".

    This app will help in managing formative assessments, but I'm also thinking of using it to manage home assignments and in ensuring that students read handouts as well.

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