Plickers: The Low-Tech Formative Assessment Tool

As many of you know who have been following my blog.  I currently do not have my own classroom as an Instructional Technology Consultant.  However, I do have the opportunity to teach and learn about different assessment technologies and help teachers implement them in their teaching.

In this blog post, I am going to take a look into the challenges, student responses, how to use the tool for assessment, and the pros and cons of using Plickers.

Plickers

What is Plickers?

According to plickers.com, Plickers is a low-tech way for teachers to collect instant multiple-choice responses from students, without requiring them to have computers or tablets. It features a printed out card with a design unique to each student, the Plickers app allows teachers to scan the student responses and respond to it in real-time.

Plickers is a “freemium” program that provides some free features, but it encourages teachers to spend $8.99 a month or $5.99 a month for a year.

Challenges for Setting Up Plickers

There is some initial setup for Plickers by the teacher before they can start using the program.

On your mobile device:

  1. Download the app
  2. Create your account

On your computer:

  1. Create your content
  2. Add Classes and Students
  3. Download your Plicker Cards and assign one to each student. (This will require the teacher to cut out each Plicker for the student.  However, once this done you can use your Plicker set for all your setup classes)

One of the main challenges that teachers may face is the limited questions that a teacher can ask in each “Question Set”.  Teachers are limited to 5 questions that they can pose to their class using the free version.  This being said a teacher could create multiple sets of questions.

Student Response

When I was using Plickers in the classroom I only had access to two classroom iPads.  And although it was just a piece of paper with a generic QR code on it, the students LOVED Plickers.  It was a create check-in tool that required no time to setup once the question set was made.  It was a matter of me pulling up the questions on my computer, and me scanning the classroom with either my personal cellphone OR the classroom iPads.

How did you use the tool for Assessment?

I personally used Plickers as a tool for formative assessment in the classroom.  It allowed me to get instantaneous feedback on student progress. I rarely used this tool for summative assessment as it does have a margin of error if the students are holding their Plickers card incorrectly.  However, as the teacher, it was nice to run the reports that Plickers offers to use the data to inform your teaching.

Pros and Cons to Plickers

Pros

If your classroom is a Low-Tech classroom this is a great alternative to Kahoot, or GoFormative, or Socrative as you do not need any devices for the students to run the program. In the current COVID-19 pandemic this also frees up the ability for teachers to not have to sanitize devices as all the students have is their individual QR code.

The program avoids singling out students that are reluctant to respond in class.

Cons

The one at a time question entry and setup prior to using the Plickers app can be time-consuming.  The questions are also limited to either multiple choice or true and false. The limit of 5 questions per set is also negative as it does not allow for a deeper look into formative assessment for a class.

The limited forms of questions do not provide deeper level thinking than other assessment tools can provide.

In Conclusion

Since Plickers has become a Freemium app, I am not as excited to share the tool with teachers as I was when it was completely free.  This being said it is still an engaging tool that I would encourage teachers to explore if they are in a classroom that is low-tech. The formative assessment tool is a great way to get some quick feedback to inform teaching practice.  For more perspectives on Plickers check out Commonsense Media’s description and reviews on Plickers.

2 thoughts on “Plickers: The Low-Tech Formative Assessment Tool

  1. I used to use Plickers quite a bit (still have one set of laminated set of codes). I also taped these on the back of the mini-whiteboards I have so kiddos would do question on the whiteboard then hold up the back and show me their plicker choice. It was a bit of work to make sure they got the same plicker number on the card to match the one on the app but was ok. A great choice if on has little or no tech (make sure you have a phone charger haha – drained the battery pretty good). Thanks for the share.

  2. Thanks for going through the pros and cons of Plickers! I used it a long time ago and enjoyed how interactive it was for students. I like your point about using it during the pandemic. It’s a safe and easy way to get students involved and to collect data on their learning. Thanks for sharing!

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