Having used and provided training for some student response systems before (notably TurningPoint), it was great to be part of supporting a new one; Poll Everywhere, during one of the lectures I was helping to capture for one of the MBChB first year modules.
Poll Everywhere works by allowing responders to vote on an answer, or post open text message responses, via SMS, Tweet or Web interface- directly into a Powerpoint slide as you present. (Note that this ability does require the installation of a Powerpoint add-on). You need to register and prepare your polling questions on the PollEverywhere site beforehand, which, once finished, allows you to download a special slide that should be copied into your presentation. In our lecture, the students were asked to reflect and then respond via SMS to the question, “What would be your understanding of the word ‘Health’?'”
It took a short initial time for responses to be conceived and sent over, but the reaction from the packed lecture theatre was great once messages started appearing in full flow, with suggestions such as: “the ability to live to your full potential,” ” the potential to flourish,” and “eating cupcakes without getting fat!” among them. It proved a good opportunity to allow students time to pause and reflect mid-lecture, then feed back in a more structured (and anonymous) way.
If you want to give it a try, the free edition of Poll Evereywhere caps you to 40 responses per poll. In the context of asking an open question mid-lecture this proved more than suitable but may prove limiting if you are running a larger session where you expect everyone to vote.