I'm looking to get feedback from students fairly seamlessly during a lecture. I know that there is a reluctance to raise one's hand (if part of a large audience), and my experience of such polling attempts (as a student) has been to break up the flow of a lecture quite considerably. Personally I don't want to get into a high-school teacher role of trying to tease out responses to questions so providing a platform for quick and semi-anonymous feedback would be useful.

But how to achieve this? Crucially most of the students are unlikely to have laptops, but are almost universally going to have smart phones. I don't want them to be struggling to take down the URL to a poll from a lecture slide, or having to log into some terrible VLE like Blackboard in order to get access to a link. QR codes could, in theory, be used to provide a link - but QR codes don't seem to be used much by casual users these days...

The reason for a digital rather than paper poll is that I can immediately respond to the results. Most of all I'm looking for as seamless an integration as possible into the lecture environment.

  • To avoid QR and the like, you can ask them to fill in their email in a form and send them the link just before each lecture.
    – Davidmh
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 12:37
  • 8
    Why has "best way to poll" turned into a shopping list for "best tool to poll"?? C'mon! Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:52
  • You might check with your IT or academic tech department (sometimes in the library); ours has "clickers" that you can check out specifically for this purpose—like pub quiz handsets. They have their own associated software.
    – 1006a
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:15
  • @1006a My school required students to purchase these (from the school book store) for any class that required them.
    – Tin Wizard
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:15
  • @Mindwin Well, what sort of answer would you expect for this question other than suggesting a tool?
    – David Z
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 1:51

7 Answers 7


Poll Everywhere is a good, easy one. It's free for 25 responses per question. Students can respond on their smartphones, laptops, or even old-school cell phones via texting.

Plickers is another good one. For this one you print out the possible responses and hand them out. Then students hold up the card corresponding to their answer. You use your smart phone camera to scan the room and the app calculates the responses.

  • +1 for Poll Everywhere. It's more likely that everyone has a cell phone than that everyone has a smart phone. Commented May 9, 2017 at 13:02
  • 2
    @MissMonicaE: if I understand Plickers correctly, the only person who needs a smartphone is the instructor. But for instructors without one, Poll Everywhere is probably better. Commented May 9, 2017 at 14:27

An example of what you are looking for is a system called ARSnova. It is a system which allows the students to answer questions or give feedback during a lecture on their smart phones. The system allows to generate a session code (which is a six digits number) which the students have to enter in oder to join the session for the lecture. Alternatively, a QR code can be shown which directs the stundents directly to the session.

As far as I know ARSnova is Open Source and is developed by the Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen.


The best implementation of such a system that I am aware of is Learning Catalytics, which was developed by Eric Mazur (and team) at Harvard and is now owned by Pearson.


I used it personally at a demo talk - it is easy to use for both instructors and students, is accessible on any device, displays analytics of the student responses, and also facilitates interactions among students after the responses (e.g if you have a multiple choice question, once students have responded, you can use it to group up nearby students that have different answers so that they can try to convince one another).


I used Socrative in my course. I think that it works fairly well. They can download an app or go to the website. They put in your room name, which you make up, to access the question. My students were able to answer questions in about 2-3 min per question.

The procedure I use is to have the same Room Number every class. Most students log in when they get to class, and see a "holding" logo since I haven't activated the question yet. When we get to the appropriate point in the lecture, I click a button and their screens switch to the question. I verbally give students a 2-minute countdown on most questions to keep the class moving.

After they answer, I display the answers on the overhead screen. If there is more than one popular answer, I ask them to describe why their answer is correct. This helps me to see what the popular misconceptions are.

At the end of the semester, I download all the student responses and write a simple script to give students credit for participation.

For everything I have done, Socrative has been free. You may need to pay an annual subscription (currently $29.99) if you want the more advanced features.


Strawpoll is perfect for this situation. It's easy to set up and is accessed via the browser. It's also updated in real time. No download required.

  • Nice suggestion, but the extended DNS of any of the individual polls would be mildly problematic
    – Stumbler
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:31
  • What do you mean? As in, I don't understand what you're saying.
    – DCON
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 8:00
  • Sorry I meant URLs
    – Stumbler
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 10:03

Why not take feedback through twitter? Most students will likely have semi-anonymous accounts there already anyway, and apart from length the feedback won't be format-limited. Plus, it is quite easily accessible from even the most basic smartphones and free to use by any number of respondents.


Cahoots works and my students use it frequently to poll each other in student presentations.

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