Plickers: Classroom Clickers without the Clicking

If you taught for a while, you have probably at least seen a classroom set of clickers somewhere on your travels. These student response systems were all the rage for a while. They looked like TV remote controls and were designed as a way that students could respond to a quiz or oral question by pressing a button to indicate the answer that they chose. Each clicker was unique to that student so that the teacher could see who answered what and when.


Fast forward a few years and today you can experience the future of classroom clickers – a free tool called Plickers. Now, if you are imagining a high-tech handset with an HD touchscreen, WiFi and a built-in camera, you would be wrong. Plickers uses paper. Yes, you heard that right, paper! Oh, and your students don’t need any electronic devices to take part in your assessment.

plicker code

So, how does it work? Each student is given a card with a unique visual code. The code has 4 sides, each lettered A, B, C, and D. The student holds the card so that the letter they choose to answer the question with is at the top of their card. The teacher uses the iOS or Android app on their smartphone to slowly scan the room. The app recognizes the cards, records who the teacher assigned them to, and captures the answer that the student chose. The app will only record each student’s answer once, so you need not worry about a second scan skewing your data.

It’s a genius idea. You don’t need to be 1:1, you don’t need an expensive set of classroom clickers, and you don’t need to share devices among your students. All you need is some paper, and an app. The results appear live and in real time on the teacher’s device, or they can be projected on a large screen for the whole class to see via the Plicker’s website if required.

Does it work 100% every time? Not always. If you laminate the cards, you may have some issues recognizing the code due to the glare from indoor lighting. Furthermore, some student cards may not all be visible at once because they are hidden behind another student’s arm or head or something else, but if you project the results on a large screen, students can see if their answer has been recorded and lower their card to make room for the others.

So, if you haven’t tried Plickers yet, and have been looking for something new or interesting in they way of assessment tools for the classroom, then give it a go. This hi-tech, low-tech approach is a unique and interesting way to poll your class.

Thanks to Seth Denney for the tip!

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