Plickers: Budget-Friendly Formative Assessment Technology for the Classroom

The use of technology to enhance instruction and engage students in learning is a wonderful thing. Being able to use technology as a means of assessing student understanding and gathering data is part of current trends in the education of today’s learners. A few years ago a wave of student response device (clicker) purchases began at schools around my county.

The devices came in kits of about 18-24 devices with a hub to plug into your computer to act as the receiver for student responses. They were neat…and expensive! Within a year they were obsolete, when new versions that had all of the missing features teachers wanted were rolled out (but far too expensive to buy new sets). Nearly five years later, those kits are rarely used, replaced by apps and bring your own device (BYOD) capabilities in classrooms which allow students to use their smartphones as makeshift clickers.

What do you do if your school does not have individual classroom response devices for students to use or you serve students who do not have smart devices of their own?

In his article, Clickers and Classroom Dynamics, Derek Bruff does a great job explaining the pros and supportive research of using clicker devices in the classroom. However, the cost of said devices is often too high for individual teachers to purchase and outside of the budget of many of today’s schools as well.

A possible solution to this problem comes in the form of an app that I have just learned about called Plickers. Plickers has the potential to be used in place of expensive clicker devices. All that is required is the use of a smart phone or iPad (just ONE) with a camera (there are versions for both Apple and Android) and a set of cards you can print out for student use.

This tweet from @HaleyKayTurner does a great job of explaining the features and highlighting ways to make it work in your classroom:

After watching, I was so impressed, I had to let her know!

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6 thoughts on “Plickers: Budget-Friendly Formative Assessment Technology for the Classroom

  1. I feel bad each time I look at my dust collecting clickers bag, but you’re right, they’re useless when they don’t function with the ActivInspire charts I already have. This Plickers app sounds interesting! I’ll have to check it out!

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    • The technology has progressed so quickly. Add to that the incompatibility of the two systems (Acitve Inspire and CPS clickers) and that is where we end up. I really like Plickers. Apparently, they have been popular with PE teachers in my county for a while as a means to do formative assessment. If you already have a smartphone, the cost to implement them in your own classroom is minimal. I watched the video by @HaleyKayTurner and 15 minutes later I had my classes set up and 5 questions loaded about prepositions. It really is that easy!

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  2. I read this and am amazed at the technology. Our district seems so “old school”. Pardon the pun. We have none of the things you mention in any of your posts. Also….love the mouse slippers!

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    • The discrepancy in my county from one school to another is an issue. In some schools, you will find interactive white boards in every classroom. In others, they are lucky to have one or two shared between the whole building. Feast or famine…

      As I research and learn more, I am realizing that the opportunity to enhance instruction can still be had, I just have to think outside the box a bit. And yes…the mouse slippers are ADORABLE!

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  3. Can you talk about how the implementation of Plickers worked out for you? You said it was easy to implement. How did the students respond? Did you feel as though you got the information you were looking for? Have you used it since that one application?

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    • My students LOVED it! They had previous experience using them in PE so they already knew the basics of how to use them. I was able to load their names in easily by copying and pasting from my class lists. I could run everything through my cell phone so switching between questions and having students see when their responses were accepted was a breeze. We just used it, so I haven’t used it more than once, but the ease of set up means it will get lots of use next year for formative assessments. I was able to see that most of my students understood the lesson so I am happy with the results. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions…

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