Five reasons why you should be using Plickers

If you have a laminator, go and buy some matte finish laminating pockets, and head to now. Print some cards out, and start using the best classroom tool you’ve never heard of. Here’s what we’ve found so far.

I’ll backtrack a few steps. If you’ve not heard of Plickers, here is how the company itself describes them:

Plickers is a powerfully simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices.

I’d say that’s a very accurate assessment (and the emphasis is all mine).

What Plickers are, then, is a set of unique, printable QR codes. (You can print them in sets of 40 or 63.) Each card is different when held up in the four different orientations, and there is a letter (A, B, C and D) at the top of each orientation. When you ask a multiple-choice question, everyone holds up their card so that their answer is at the top of the QR code; at that point, you take a photo using the app, and get real-time, anonymous and formative feedback. (We say anonymous, as the letters aren’t easily visible to anyone else looking at others’ cards.)

If you need any more persuasion, here are Evidence Based Education’s top five reasons why you should be using Plickers:

1. Essentially, for basic uses, they are free. No clickers required. No invoices for £100s. All you need is a printer and a smartphone. And maybe a laminator, if you’re a stationery fiend like me.

2. They are incredibly versatile. We’ve seen testimonials of class teachers who use Plickers regularly – they’re ten to the dozen. We wanted to use them in our teacher PD sessions, though, to see if they were as effective. Simply put, they are! We can see hundreds of different uses – not just in education, either…

3. They are low-maintenance. If you have the same class – or training group – for the whole year, you can print out a set of them for your class to stick on the front of their exercise books. They just stay there, ready for use as and when required.

4. The data you get change in real-time. If someone changes their mind, and turns their card around, the results which show up on your phone change too. It’s really quick – surprisingly so, in fact.

5. The more you put in, the more you get out. When used to their maximum capability, Plickers are so so powerful. If you do choose to give pupils a particular card each (see point 3) – here’s the clever bit – you can allocate each numbered Plicker to a student in their class group. Whenever you add a question to your account and use it in the app during a lesson, they use the same card, and you will be able to see not only an overview of group-level understanding, but also exactly who answered what…

We’ll be found using these brilliant tools in all of the training sessions we’re running over the next couple of months; you should be using them too…

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