Tool: Poll Everywhere
Poll Everywhere is a web based text polling tool that can be used by any ministry. When you make a poll, choose which type of question you want to ask: multiple choice or free response with any text reply. Then have your audience text in their answers. Results can be viewed in real time as responses are coming in. If you have people concerned about texting fees or are not comfortable with texting, Poll Everywhere provides a voting link that can be distributed via email, Twitter, or placed on a web page. This option allows people to respond in a regular web browser through a smartphone or computer at no cost to them. All responses can be instantly combined.
Poll Everywhere allows you to post as many polls as you want for free. The cost is dependent on group size. A group of 40 respondents or fewer is free. Audiences beyond this size have monthly fees but no contracts and come with some amenities that give you extra control of the content of responses. You can upgrade and downgrade whenever you want.
Text polling is a fun way for any audience to participate in your presentation and in turn helps them to stay engaged. This concept is extremely helpful in youth ministry. One way to use text polling is for the ever necessary ice breaker. You could provide a series of silly or thought provoking questions to help get to know the people in your group. Another way is to use text polling to ask trivia to test your students’ knowledge of their religion or past content from classes. Since the free version is anonymous and ungraded, no one will feel inadequate or dumb, yet you can get a sense of the level of retention in your group.
One final idea is to use poll texting for asking questions that people might not feel answering out loud. Here’s an example: When I worked in retreat ministry, one activity we liked to do was to ask questions about how people agreed or disagreed with topics concerning Church teachings, personal beliefs, and how one lives out his/her faith. Predictably some teens would get right into the discussion with zeal whereas others shied away for multiple reasons. The response yielded a small sample of what a few individuals thought without ever really knowing the feelings of the group as a whole. Using this tool can help provide a voice to those who might not speak up. An additional benefit is you are using gadgets that teens are engaged with all the time. This will make your class more fun and comfortable, which always benefits a religious education class.
If you do use Poll Everywhere sometime soon, please come back and leave a comment to let us know what the experience was like. Check out this video to get a sense of how Poll Everywhere works in a church setting.