I’ve written about the different ways you can do electronic voting without buying clickers a number of times from creating a simple wi-fi system, to using services like polleverywhere.com, to even using Twitter (more on the latest on this one in a separate post).
For the ‘eAssessment Scotland 2010: Marking the decade’ conference we ran a poster competition and not wanting to collect lots of slips of papers we thought it would be good to have a SMS vote. Having seen the Learning Apps (formerly xlearn textwall) being used at other events and knowing it allowed data to be exported via RSS it was the ideal candidate. Using the same concept for voting via Twitter (TwEVS) of counting the occurrences of options after a hashtag it was easy to just substitute the feed from Twitter search with the one from Learning Apps.
The advantage of this home grown solution is it gives you some flexibility in how it is used in particular using the space before the question identifier for users to explain why they think their answer is correct. You can access the voting site using the link below (here is also the source code for download).
- Rent a textwall from Learning Apps (xlearn) for £25/year (this solution only requires you to receive messages so you won’t need any additional credit unless you plan on contacting students via SMS)
- Once created login to the xlearn admin panel and click either ‘Text Wall’ or ‘Inbox’ and note/copy the code after
‘http://xdalearn.co.uk/rssfeed/Feed?id= (might be 12 random characters)Update: There’s a new url so it’s the code after http://www.textwall.co.uk/rssfeed/textwall/
- When you want to ask a question give users the options and instructions like “to vote for option ‘A’ send a text message to 07XXX XXX XXX with ‘xyz #q1 A’ (where 07XXX XXX XXX is the mobile number and xyz is the short code provided by Learning Apps).The question identifier (in this example #q1) can be anything you like as long as it starts with ‘#’ and the options can be anything you like (a, b, c … 1, 2, 3 … etc)
- On the XVS site enter your textwall RSS id saved earlier and the hashtag identifier without the ‘#’ (in this example it would be ‘q1’). You can also optionally set the maximum number of options to graph. The reason you would use this is to try and prevent any malicious uses like sending rude messages.
- Once the form is submitted you can swap between the live results and a static chart. (the url of this page can be included in PowerPoint slides allowing you to link directly to the results) Below is the format it uses:
id – is an encode version of your textwall RSS id. It’s encode to try and prevent direct access to you entire text wall. The encoded id is fixed so can be reused
tag – your question identifier
options – optional number to restrict the number of options displayed
type – setting to ‘live’ displays the chart with realtime updates. Leaving blank displays the static chart
One last thought. As this solution uses RSS feeds to pull the voting results, just as with the Twitter voting example, it would be very straight forward to combine the two (already a feature of polleverywhere.com, but something I’m not interested in doing).