During InstructureCon, the annual conference put on by the parent company of Canvas, Polls for Canvas was announced. Polls is a new Canvas app that allows instructors to create interactive polls for their classes on the fly and let their students respond immediately, potentially gathering valuable data from the class during lectures.
Student response systems like Polls for Canvas, Clickers, PollEverywhere, LectureTools, and TopHat are not brand new to the educational scene. However, they usually cost to enable on a meaningful scale, say on a class or program scale, and some of them do not integrate into learning management systems in a meaningful way.
That’s where Polls for Canvas could really shine. Since it’s built by the same people that created our new learning management system, Canvas, it should integrate nicely… and it does. But there are some catches, Polls for Canvas (currently) only works from mobile devices, and (currently) only offers one question type, multiple choice.
The instructor must create the Polls from a smart device (Android/iPhone/iPad), and they must be taken by the students on a smart device. Everyone involved must be using a compatible smart device. There are plans on integrating Polls into the web version of Canvas and add more question types, but the specifics have not been released as of the writing of this article.
Creating a poll in Polls for Canvas was fairly straight forward, but it seemed like the functionality of the app was slightly unfinished. It looks beautiful, works without crashing, and seamlessly pulls class enrollment information from Canvas, all good things in my book. I think it has a ton of potential (Did I mention it’s FREE?), but in its current state, it still feels like a “beta” app to me.
If you want to ask simple, multiple-choice polls in your classes where everyone has a smart device, give Polls for Canvas a try. Otherwise, I’d hold off on using this in a classroom setting until it develops a little further.