Classroom Response/Audience Polling Systems


Classroom response or audience polling systems allow speakers to solicit anonymous or identified feedback from an audience in real time. These systems can be useful for:

  • Assessing comprehension on the fly during a class
  • Exam review sessions
  • Enabling listeners to share opinions, feedback or sensitive information anonymously
  • "Taking the temperature of the room" during a workshop or presentation

The earliest systems required the use of specialized hardware devices: audience members needed to have special "clickers" that wirelessly transmitted their responses to a central base station attached to the speaker's computer.

"Clicker" systems have become out-dated and an unnecessary expense now that audience members already have smart phones, laptops, wireless tablet devices, and/or mobile phones. Current classroom response and audience polling systems allow audience members to use their own personal devices to respond to questions, and speakers can run them from any  These newer systems require less logistic planning and are thus easier to use for occasional or one-off polling situations.

Getting Started

  • There are many web-based classroom response systems that operate on a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model. Most have free options, although modest subscriptions may be required for large courses. Most support a range of question types (e.g., short answer, numerical reponse, multiple choice, etc.), and allow results to be displayed on screen to students and exported in an Excel-compatible format. We recommend:

    • Microsoft Forms (free) can be used as a simple polling system with answers recorded directly in an online Excel file. BMC faculty, students and staff can create polls (log into Bryn Mawr webmail/Office 365, click the App Launcher (i.e., "waffle" icon) and choose Forms). Anyone can respond (they do NOT need an O365 account) and responses are encrypted in transit and at rest. For step-by-step instructions
    • Poll Everywhere (some free options) provides a very diverse range of question types, with the option to submit answers offline via text.
    • Piazza (some free options) offers only multiple choice and short answer questions for real-time polling, but adds a web-based interface for class discussion.
  • All three of the services listed above can be accessed from any device with a web browser (e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop), and Poll Everywhere offers text message responses for some question types. Over 90% of Bryn Mawr students report owning a smart phone and over 95% report owning a laptop. 

  • To make sure all of your audience members can respond:
    • If you can, ask participants in advance to bring a laptop, tablet or smart phone to the class/meeting and to notify you if they cannot.
    • Pair participants and each pair submit a single response (this can have additional pedagogical benefits)​​​​​​ 
  • Note: Organizing group responses is particularly helpful in large classes or meetings, as it drastically cuts down the number of responses and decreases demand on the wireless infrastructure, the polling software, and the oversight of the poll administrator.


  • For help choosing and setting up a polling solution, Request a Consultation with EAST staff using the button above.
  • For help troubleshooting issues with the polling software itself, please consult the company's support resources. LITS staff do not necessarily have the resources, expertise or power to fix problems with third-party software.
  • Individuals that are having difficulty connecting to Bryn Mawr College's wireless or to the Internet when on BMC's wireless network should contact the Help Desk (610-526-7440, or stop by 1st floor in Canaday Library).
  • If you are attempting to run a poll and you notice multiple people having wireless or Internet connectivity problems in a particular room, please report this to the Help Desk so that it can be investigated.  
  • What happened to the Clickers? LITS no longer maintains a loan pool of clicker base stations and response units for classroom use. We have found that the online systems above provide an easier and more flexible solution for occasional, anonymous polling. However, faculty that wish to continue using clickers for in-class polling can arrange for students to rent or buy response units through the Campus Bookstore. Contact Jim Huang ( for more information.
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Service ID: 267
Mon 9/26/16 1:34 PM
Thu 8/19/21 10:58 AM