Tech Trumps® Friday Focus: Socrative - In class web-based student response system

This Friday I'm returning to an old favourite of mine that I've used extensively in both higher and secondary education. It's an app that has been designed from the ground up to assist educators with one of the most important things they can do in a classroom - formative assessment. This week it's the turn of Socrative.

What is Socrative?

Socrative is one of the many apps available now that allows teachers to ask a question, and students to answer that question using a digital device. It's actually been around for many years - I remember meeting the original designer at a conference, long before it became famous, and having some very excitable conversations about its potential!

There are three types of quiz: a standard question by question, a space race game where students work in teams to outperform each other and an pre-made exit ticket with 3 short questions. When you first start you're given a room name - this will always be the same, so it's a good idea to print if off in large type and add it to your classroom so students can type it in when needed.

For the standard quiz and the space race you can set either multiple choice, true/false or short answer questions, and students can answer either through a web browser or through a dedicated student app. You can even print out a quiz as a pre-prepared PDF and students can fill that in too - I always used to have a few print outs just in case, as you never know when technology will let you down. You can also add explanations to give students instant feedback on their answers.

In terms of actually running the quiz, you can either let students go at their own pace or manage it yourself, plus lots of other options such as requiring names, shuffle questions, show feedback and show final score. The data from the quiz is displayed in real time, which you can choose to share if you like (either with names or anonymously), and is also stored online for later analysis.

How can you use it in education?

Obviously the big benefit with using Socrative in your classroom is in Assessing, specifically to support formative assessment. It's an excellent way to get detailed and personalised feedback on exactly how well your class understands the topic in question. Unlike the typical walk around technique, where you're trying to assess individual students understanding as your move around your classroom, you can be sure with Socrative that you're getting precise and personal data for every student. You can also use the questions to get a more complete picture than simple hands up, post-it notes or similar techniques, e.g. you can add many more potential answers or even use short answer questions to provoke a deeper response from your students. The space race element is also useful for Motivating your students, as the extra competition element gamifies the experience.

Another really big benefit of Socrative is that is stores the results online, and will email you an Excel spreadsheet with the answers once the quiz has finished. By combining this with individual student names, and using conditional formatting on the Excel (e.g. colour coding depending on answer) you can very rapidly produce an overview of both individual students understanding and the overall class strengths and weaknesses, and tailor your teaching accordingly.

So that's Socrative, a great tool for finding out whether your students really understood what you wanted them to learn. On the outside it may look like yet another student response app, but it has a long pedigree and I think that shows in just how well it can serve your needs as a teacher.

Do you have any ideas for using Socrative that you'd like to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments!

Would you like your own set of Tech Trumps®?

Do head over to the Tech Trumps® to see Socrative and a host of other apps, all rated against the key challenges you're focused on as a teacher. There's an interactive version of the Tech Trumps® to explore, plus a PDF download version for offline use - or you can go old school, and buy a physical pack of cards for only £4.99 plus postage which I'll whisk off to you first class in the next available post :-)

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