I know there are approximately one billion classroom polling options, each with its own special features and quirks. But, if you’re not already familiar with Zeetings, it’s a great one to consider.
What I like about Zeetings is that it is free to use for classes up to 500 students (with the Education and Non-Profits plan). Students can follow along on a laptop, tablet, or phone. Unless you want to track attendance or participation, they don’t have to login which makes set-up pretty easy. And it has a number of cool features. You can upload a PowerPoint presentation into Zeetings and then add polls or other features into the PowerPoint. You can embed YouTube videos and other content as well.
As far as polls, you can create different types: “thumbs up/thumbs down,” multiple choice, scales, rankings, text, and word cloud. I don’t use it for taking attendance or marking participation, although you can require that students put in their names to access the Zeeting (that’s under Settings). In my class, I typically use the polls as conversation starters and quick interactive interjections.
For example, I use it a lot in my 40-person Human Rights class. In a session on international human rights law, we talk about the concept of compliance. Before discussing why states comply (or not) with human rights treaties, I get them thinking and talking about compliance with domestic law by asking a few questions about their personal compliance with laws. Zeetings – if you don’t have participants to log in with names – means their answers are anonymous. So, I can ask questions like “Have you ever stolen anything from Whole Foods?” (the Whole Foods on campus used to be a notorious site for shop-lifting but, as I learned from this exercise last year, they are now banning students if they are caught shoplifting so the numbers went way down in the poll compared to previous years). I ask them a mix of questions about laws I assume at least some have violated and some that I assume none have violated. Then I use the word cloud
feature to ask two follow-up questions: “Using one word, describe why you don’t comply with certain domestic laws?” and “Using one word, describe why you generally comply with certain domestic laws?” These word clouds kick off a good discussion of compliance that flows into discussions of how domestic and international law are similar and ways they are not. And then we can apply that specifically to why states comply or not comply with international human rights laws.
Zeetings, because of different polling options, works really well to frame this discussion. I just started using it last year and I plan to play around with its features and integrate it into class even more when I teach Human Rights next semester.