Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Polling and Surveying to Differentiate and Inform

We all know that education is headed in a new direction -- a direction that is more interactive and more tailored to individuals, a direction with more instantaneous and long-distance feedback. A great way to reach out to students and parents is with web-based surveys and polls.

Polls and surveys can be used to accomplish the following goals:

  • differentiation - You can tailor your instruction to suit the needs and wishes of your student population or discreetly collect information on student strengths and weaknesses. You can also gauge student interest and levels of experience in a particular subject matter before you even hold class the next day.
  • interaction - There are few ways that are easier to engage with parents quickly and easily than asking them to participate in a simple survey or poll. Many parents are busy and removed from emails just as often, if not more often than we are. Sometimes it is difficult to get parents to commit to regular checking-in on grading sites, webpages and blogs. Many of these polling and surveying technologies allow people to engage from phones and tablets, as well as their computers and are much quicker and easier than emailing.
  • organization - In the middle school years, we are often teaching organizational skills like studying, prioritizing and time management just as much as we are teaching content. As the world becomes more reliant on electronic means of timekeeping and organization, so should you! Well-timed polls and surveys can guide students through the process of developing positive habits and inform you about which strategies work best for particular learners.
Below are some sites that provide polling and surveying tools:

Poll Everywhere - This site has some free features, as well as a paid membership with more features. It allows users to create polls with text-in capabilities and online tracking.

SurveyMonkey - Customized surveys with multiple choice and open-ended questions can be blasted to email addresses and the results are compiled online in a user-friendly template.

SoGo Survey - Also a free- or subscription-based site, this tool has many customizable features and tracking tools outside the basic abilities of other sites. 

Kwik Surveys - Another free, web-based survey maker, similar to Survey Monkey.

I recently heard a discussion about polling parents and students, and I was immediately reminded of all the online survey and polling tools that I have seen over the past few years from various sources. I look forward to trying some of these tools in the near future and you can be assured I will post some data to this blog!