Plickers: A Lower Tech Student Response System

For one reason or another, I sometimes stop using a resource for a period of time and then get to experience the joy of discovering it all over again. This happened to me recently with Socrative, my student response system of choice, which got me thinking about what other options are out there.

Previously, I wrote a post about Kahoot! which would be a great alternative for me since my students all have smartphones. Like Socrative, Kahoot! requires each student to be on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, but I realized that there had to be a lower tech option out there—and there is. It is called Plickers. Plickers comes recommended by Sergio Lorca, who left a comment on the TESOL Blog saying “it’s free and students don’t need to have any mobile devices.” In fact, only one device is required for an entire classroom.

Plickers works using a free app and a set of cards which you can download for free or buy for US$20 on Amazon. Now I have never used Plickers, but from what I can tell, each card has a different shape and number plus the letters a through d. You assign student names to card numbers and then students use the cards to answer multiple-choice questions. Students show their answers by holding their cards with their chosen answer along the top of the card. Once students have decided on their answers and are holding up their cards, use a smartphone or tablet to scan the room. The scan will pick up the cards and record the responses. It seems pretty straightforward and is a great choice for a classroom that is not 1-to-1.

Besides the very thorough help page, you can also browse YouTube for more information, reviews, testimonials, and tutorials on Pickers to get you started. Like anything new, students will require some amount of practice to get the hang of using the cards, but it seems as though teachers are having success with this method with students of all ages. Additionally, if you find yourself handling a lot of tech issues with student devices, you may choose to use Plickers instead of other student response systems simply to save time even in a 1-to-1 setting.

The benefits of using Plickers is the same as with any student response system, and every time I start using one again, I realize how marvelous they can be, so I highly recommend you try one out in your classroom. Share your student response system or Plickers experiences by leaving a comment below.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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3 Responses to Plickers: A Lower Tech Student Response System

  1. now available for use as an e-learning platform (BETA version), where students use their smartphones to answer.

  2. Ashleigh Wenger says:

    We recently learned about Plickers in a staff development meeting. Plickers is a great tool for a quick assessment of student understanding. We experimented with shapes, but they also have pictures for younger students to make it a little easier. Each shape/picture is different, they are numbered and have the choices a, b, c, d. The letters are so small that it makes it extremely difficult for students to copy their neighbor’s answers. A great tool for quick assessments.

    • Tara Arntsen Tara Arntsen says:

      Thank you for the comment, Ashleigh! It’s great to hear your feedback on Plickers. You mentioned a set of cards using shapes for younger students. I haven’t come across those. Could you share the link to those with us? Thank you!

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