We are considering use of Canvas Polls on mobile devices as our campus student response system instead of expensive clickers. Has anyone had experience using Canvas Polls on mobile devices? Is this feasible for classroom use?
That's a great question. I haven't used the Canvas Polls tool in my classes but I have done polling with other online tools in classes. One challenge I noticed that would apply to the Canvas tool is the latency between the students' devices and the website that was collecting their submissions. The clickers I'm familiar with have a receiver in the room so everyone with a device has an equal opportunity to provide input. With mobile devices the signals had to go from their devices, to the nearest cell tower or wifi router, through the internet to the server, get processed there, and then come back through the internet to the instructor's station. I used a system that allowed for text message and using an online form, and I had some students whose submissions were not recorded until after I had moved on to a subsequent question.
A related issue is the bandwidth of our wifi network, which was initially set up on my campus to provide coverage in the library, cafeteria, and quad but not *inside* classrooms. (Back then only a crazy few of us encouraged students to use devices during class.) So for those students depending on the wifi network this added to the latency problem. We are currently expanding our network to provide better coverage inside classrooms so this will be less of an issue going forward.
I also was concerned with requiring or expecting students each to have a device, and it's a funny thought train to take to imagine that it's okay to expect students to spend financial aid money at the bookstore on a clicker (less expensive than most textbooks but of limited use) and not okay to expect students to spend financial aid money at the bookstore on a smartphone (just a bit more expensive than some textbooks but of unlimited use). How does your college handle the question of students' access to technology?
Finally, I looked at the poll options and it looks like the only question types are multiple choice broadly defined (could include true/false, Likert scale, etc.). So that means it would not work for what I have done in the past, which requires students provide open-ended answers. It looks like how each student answered each question is not recorded, so it would not help me take attendance either. I see that polls are tied to course sections and that my profile is pulled from the server to display in the app; therefore it is possible to collect the identities of the poll submitters.
I searched the Canvas Ideas pages and found something on polling in an archived idea from last fall:
Integrate Polls for Canvas Mobile App with Desktop Version of Canvas
The comments on that page from Christi Wruck give me hope that the Canvas Poll will become more useful in the near future.
I converted this to a discussion as that is the best way for us to share our experiences with Canvas.
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