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ABC of ICT

Pete Roythorne casts his vote on classroom polls.

Want to make tests enjoyable and, at the same time, cut down on all that arduous marking?

Get your hands on a classroom voting system. With all the ICT at teachers' fingertips, this could be construed as one of the most simple: just by putting a basic keypad (similar to a remote control unit for your TV) in the hands of your pupils you have instant feedback and instant marking as students vote by pressing a number or letter which corresponds to a question or statement. You'll have seen these systems if you've ever watched TV shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Classroom voting systems can be used with any size of class, providing you have enough handsets for each pupil. When the pupils key in their selection the information is transmitted to your computer and the information processed. The software records the students' responses and can produce reports, graphs and marksheets which can be displayed instantly.

In this way, it becomes easy to involve your whole class in questions and answers. You can link to presentation packages such as PowerPoint and set up sequences, presentations and quizzes within lessons.

Voting systems are not limited to testing, you can use them for quick feedback on verbal questions and polling of views on a story, pieces of work, current affairs, or anything you like. Student benefits include the interactivity which keeps them focused; they encourage weaker students to participate; and results can be used to initiate discussion with others in groups and ensures "deep learning" as learners process and produce reasoning.

Teachers' benefits include students being involved and engaged, which helps maintain and stimulate concentration; you can see what students understand and can therefore adapt the lesson; and they can help with the delivery of dry and challenging material.

There are a number of different systems on the market, all with different features so you need to decide what's right for you. However, some of the main things to look out for include size of handset; rightwrong feedback on handset; import of PowerPoint and export to Excel; response-time measurement; and charting features.

Prices vary: a 32-handset system can cost between pound;900 and pound;2,000, and some of the systems can be paid for using e-Learning credits.

Just listen out for pupils coughing and giving the answers away!

* School Zone. www.schoolzone.co.ukresourcesevaluationsprint.asp?p=votech- intclassroom Suppliers. Classroom Performance System www.einstruction.uk.com

Qwizdom. www.qwizdom.co.uk

ACTIVote www.prometheanworld.comuk Educlick www.aclasstechnology.com

Turningpoint www.turningtechnologies.com

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