This week, Twitter added a polling option that anyone with a Twitter account can use to gather opinions on a topic of their choice. Facebook has had polls for a while, but this is still a welcome addition to Twitter. Polls are quick and easy to set up and they could have some useful benefits for teachers who use social media in the classroom. Here’s how they works.
The new polling option can be found when you go to compose a new tweet at Twitter.com or on the mobile apps. Simply type the question or comment that you want people to vote on, and then tap (or click) on the Poll button to add choices. You can have up to 20 characters for each option, and this will not count towards the 140 characters that you can use in the main body of the tweet.
If you see a poll you want to vote on, all you have to do is tap (or click) on the choice you want to cast your vote. All Twitter polls are anonymous. The person who created the poll will not know how you voted or even who voted, and neither will the other people who participate in the poll. You can only vote once, per account.
Once a poll has been posted, it will remain open for 24 hours. When that time has expired, voting will be closed automatically and the person who initiated the poll will receive a notification that it has now ended, as well as a breakdown of the final results. The winning choice will be highlighted in bold text for everyone to see.
As of today, you can only have two choices for people to vote on, so you will have to be creative with your question or focused with the data you want to collect. You also can’t include any media with a Twitter poll, which is a shame because it might be nice to be able to vote on an image or ask a question about a video.
In the classroom, this might be a useful tool for a quick exit ticket. You could post the question on Twitter with your class hashtag and get students to vote on the answer they think best answers the question. You won’t know who answered what, but you will know how many voted as well as how well your students understood the content that day. You could also use it to help introduce more student voice and choice in your classroom by having students vote on the topics or activities they would most like to cover in class. Student groups like athletic teams, robotic clubs, or student journalists could poll their peers on topics that matter to them.
Schools could use Twitter polls to help engage the community in some of the lighter decisions that administrators have to make on a daily basis. It could also be used as part of a professional development session in the place of something like Poll Everywhere and as a way to encourage your teachers to be involved and on Twitter.
Outside of the classroom, I can see businesses and media outlets taking advantage of this in a number of ways. So, look for The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, America’s Got Talent, and others to be adding Twitter polls in the near future.
Here is a short video from Richard Byrne on how to create a Twitter poll.
Learn more: Twitter Help