I developed a little one hour session on how to use 5 technology tools to get formative assessment – and used all 5 of them as a demonstration in a lab training environment.

The trick was to not prepare ahead of time (oh horrors, I know but just wing it as it is part of the ‘sell’!).  I just demonstrated each of them fresh from the start to show faculty how easy they are to use and how authentic the training can be. If you can have two screens (two computers running) you can show both the instructor and student view for Poll Everywhere and Socrative – makes for ease in learning (little confusing to manage two screens but doable).By having faculty experiment with each for about 10 minutes each gives them hands-on learning and opporutnities to reply to sample questions.

Post-secondary educators do not do enough formative assessment (informal feedback on student learning or course delivery/design = deeper levels of learning) and these are great to  engage students with technology. All the resaearch points to ensuring you have frequent and varied forms of gathering data about student learning – and you need to embed quick ways for students to give instructors feedback on their learning. You don’t have to be a technology whiz either to use these tools!

Here is my handout in PDF: Tech Feedback Workshop Handout


Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is an application that works well for live audiences using smartphones or laptops/tablets. People participate by visiting a web page , sending text messages, or using Twitter. Instructions are displayed on the screen. The poll will update in real time. Advanced uses include texting comments to a presentation, texting questions to a presenter, web voting etc—pretty simple and easy to use without even needing an account to start! Very user friendly too!


This free web tool has lots of capability—very popular amongst many teachers. Teachers can create self-paced quizzes, exit tickets, and quiz games, or deliver stand-alone multiple choice, true/false, or short answer ques-tions. Students respond to questions using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each assessment generates a detailed report automatically. Instructors can download reports or have them sent via email. Learn more and get some great ideas by visiting the “Training” tab. You need an account to get a room “#” to share with class.


(used to be called Wallwisher): Padlet is a web application that allows students to express their thoughts on a common topic— like paper for the web. It works like an online sheet of paper where people can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device. It is like a multimedia friendly, free-form, real-time wiki. You just say “create a new wall” and share the URL with others, double-click to add content—that’s all! Use a wall to gather feedback on a topic. Can edit the URL to be more easily share with students. Group work and group feedback can also be easily done. Check it out!


Bubbl.us is a Web 2.0 tool that enables users to create mind mapping and brainstorming diagrams online—freely and with-out an account or downloading any software.To begin, the main topic/concept is entered in to the parent bubble or first bubble that comes up. Then ideas are typed in colorful text bubbles linked to the parent bubble. Users continue to add text bubbles which are color coded according to hierarchy or relationship. The tab function advances another bubble. You can draw links and lines between connected bubbles, colour them and change the font size. You don’t have to sign in—only to save your map. You can also export as a jpg (image) to keep as well. Please note: Faculty and students need some instruction on what is concept mapping/mind mapping.

Turning Point Technologies

(Clickers): Instructors can offer assessments and poll students from any Mac or PC. Students provide answers with a “Response Card” and most often require a choice (multiple choice, T/F). The answer registers with a USB device connected to a computer. Immediate data charts are displayed to show class results. This is the most sophisticated feedback system of the 5 listed and has to be installed and used through own system. Can use through PowerPoint or with verbal or Word or other times questions are given. VIU has a number of clicker sets (along with laptops) for sign out. See Centre for details.

Just one more….that is likely a given with all of our uses of learning management systems (LMS) such Desire2Learn, Canvas, Blackboard – there are often built in survey tools (anonymous or non-anonymous) where a survey or feedback form can be created for students. My favourite is to create a little 5 question survey (e.g., What is helping you learn in this course? What are you understanding? Where are you still foggy?) that appears online at the end of each month in a semester. Students know it is coming, can give informal feedback and the instructor should review and comment in class. These are far more valuable than the end of term student/course evaluations.