Students and teachers have either the most simplistic or the most complex systems at their disposal when it comes learning online. Case in point: simplistic video conference solutions and elaborate Learning Management Systems. Given that the subject matter is already hard for many, trying and spending time to understanding a new tool that helps them learn is an extra burden.
They could use a solution that is somewhere in the middle. Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Like always, I’m gonna take it for a test drive, would you like to join me?
Socrative is super simple to use, and all the teacher has to do is login through an Internet connected device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students will simply have to login with their device and interact real time with the content.
Responses to questions posed at students are visually represented for multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions. At the end of every planned activity, the teacher can view reports via an emailed Excel file.
With so much to offer and particularly when considering how over priced anything related education these days, it is hard to believe that this web app is available for free. Getting started is very easy, but is a bit weird. The sign up page says that the app is in private beta and you will have to submit your email id to join the queue. Now, immediately after hitting Submit, I got a welcome email detailing how to get access to the app.
Apparently, you don’t have to go through the step of registering your email for an invite at all. Head over to t.socrative.com, if you are a teacher and register for an account from a simplistic form. Don’t worry if the form and the rest of the app look huge and weird in your screen.
The developers in their endeavor to make the app mobile friendly, have embraced the same interface for desktop too. This user interface brings down user experience by quite a few notches.
Accessing the Room
After a few slides giving a head’s up about the app and its features, you should land on the teacher’s zone. Again, with a lot more options the user interface looks very ugly. Try resizing your browser from the maximized view till the interface is usable enough for you. At the top, you can see the room number. This is what you should circulate among your students. You can also get the count of the number active participants so far.
Students in turn should login at m.socrative.com by entering the virtual room number provided by the teacher. They will then see “Waiting for teacher to start an activity…” status message. Once you initiate an activity by selecting it on the main screen, the same will show up in their screens (more later).
As mentioned earlier Socrative allows teachers to create multiple quizzes of various formats. The steps to create a quiz from the app aren’t many and is an absolute breeze to create one.
In the case of a multiple choice question, add the question and the choices that go with it and voila! you have a quiz in your hand. I couldn’t find a way to bring down the number of choices from five to three though.
A Quiz in Progress
If you are a student, follow the above mentioned steps to get into the room and wait for the teacher to start an activity.
When all the students have joined the room, you as the teacher can start the quiz. Here, you get to choose the pace at which the quiz will progress. This could either be a preset interval of your choice or the student can take his/her own sweet time to complete them.
If you happen to be a student, start answering the questions as they start showing up on the screen. Based on how the quiz has been set, you will either see live results or will get a report directly from teacher later.
At the end of each quiz, the teacher will get a detailed report compete the name of the students and the answers submitted by them. Use this to grade them or archive it for future use.
Socrative does one thing with gusto – minimizing the pain in learning and (teaching). This is evident from their choice of technology. Without making a native app for every desktop and mobile operating system, they have embraced the universal web app format. While this makes the app fit to run on any Internet connected device, it isn’t great to look at from a desktop browser.
It is evident that the developers have painstakingly worked to ensure that the app runs on mobiles as awesome as it will on a desktop. But I guess today’s web development technologies offer the ability to deduce from which browser the user is accessing the app and serve the appropriate version of the app’s user interface. Besides that, Socrative is golden!
Share Your Thoughts!
How much fun is it to learn and/or teach online? What apps do you normally use in your campus and classrooms for learning and teaching?