Make Your Own Free Polling Site

polling sites
Do you pay for your classroom response system? Here’s a (nearly) free idea to create your own dedicated polling site with WordPress.

If you have used polling apps you’ll know that typically they are not free. We found a way to use WordPress as a polling site. Here’s how we did it.

The Basics

Students bring their own devices, including laptops, tablets or smart phones to class; or use ones you provide.

There is a dedicated website with poll questions that is created, hosted and maintained by you using an installation of WordPress. (Note that this currently won’t work on WordPress.com because they don’t allow you to upload plugins. You must have a custom installation of WordPress that either you have installed with a hosting provider, or one that is hosted by your school.)

The lecturer presents as usual and when a poll question (sometimes also know as a ‘clicker’ question) appears, students use their smart phone or tablet QR reader to scan a code that takes them directly to a poll question on the polling site. Alternatively, they can type in the address of the poll in a web browser on their laptop, smart phone or tablet, for example, “http://poll.place/127”

Cost/Benefits

This solution is ideal because there is negligible cost in setting up the site if you have your own installation of WordPress, and no service or monthly fees are associated with it, other than the cost of your hosting plan. It is just a website with poll questions on it. Students bring their own devices, (which they prefer, rather than carrying an outdated, clunky, clicker device) and there would be no cost in buying new hardware, unless you wish to provide extra devices for students who don’t have one.

All polls can reside in one place, are unlimited, and can be deleted in a timely manner after the lecture finishes, if desired, or reuse them year after year.

Other polling software comes with a cost to either the student or to the school. For example, the most popular polling service, “polleverywhere.com” has a monthly fee of $14/student, and students are required to text their responses, possibly incurring fees when doing so.

Possible Challenges

Students without devices- could this cause a digital divide? Could there be potential access to “extra” devices the school or department could consider purchasing?

Testing will need to occur to make sure the WordPress site can handle hundreds of responses at once, and that the University/School Wi-Fi system in lecture halls can handle the surge in usage.

Using QR Codes in lectures (or elsewhere)

Free Polling Site using QR codes

To use this system, you simply create your polls on your WordPress site using a polling plugin. Once your unique poll is created, an ID is associated with it. You then create a post or page and insert the ID shortcode. Publish your post or page, then copy the URL. Use a free QR code generator like QRstuff, Create the poll slides for you which are normal PowerPoint slides within your lecture.

You then add the question, with answer choices (note that this is optional, but helpful to students). Students can use their QR readers on their phones or type in the unique poll web address (e.g., http://poll.place/127) on their laptop or other mobile device to vote for the correct answer. You then click the link included on the poll slide and display the results. There is no cost in this method, and you can have as many polls and student respondents as you wish. Once questions are set up students can also be limited to one response per device, along with other options, depending on what polling plugin you’re using.

Note that the above example QR code and http://poll.place/127 are just examples and are not currently in use.

Here’s a list of some poll plugins you can use on your WordPress site:

TotalPoll ($19. Our favorite.)
Responsive Poll ($15)
Modal Survey ($35)

Happy Polling!

Blend: In-class

Do you use polls, clickers or a classroom response system? Let us know your thoughts and advice below.

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