While researching this series of articles, I decided to revisit two of my old favourites, Socrative and Hot Potatoes, to see if they could still compete with the pack of quiz tools currently on the market. Hot Potatoes, I am sad to say, didn’t even make it into this article. It was the first quiz software I used, and while it was fun and innovative when I was using it, it feels very clunky now, and it hasn’t really developed much in the intervening years. Socrative is in a similar position as a “golden oldie”, but it has aged somewhat better, so it is at least worth considering.
Like Vevox, Socrative is a quiz/poll hybrid that can be used for both detailed questionnaires/quizzes or quick one-off questions and polls. The distinction here is a bit clearer in the Socrative interface:
Quick questions only have three types: multiple choice, true/false and short answer. If you want bells and whistles, like pinning names on images or questions embedded in video, Socrative is not for you. Quick questions are really meant to be quick — on-the-fly, in fact — and except for the Short Answer type, you don’t even write the question. The advantage of this minimalist approach is that if you already have Socrative running, you can fire off a question any time you want; you are basically using it like a clicker or show of hands.
The mainstay of Socrative, though, is quizzes. You go to your library and click “add”, then create a quiz or, if you have colleagues using Socrative, you can import quizzes by entering the code they give you. Again, the question types are limited to multiple choice, true/false and short answer, and it would be nice if they add alternative types in the future. You create quizzes in your Library, then launch them from the main screen when you want to run them. You can then choose different delivery styles.
Instant feedback is good for distance learning where you want students to go through a set sequence, while Open Navigation works well for assessment. Teacher Paced is one I have used a lot in class because I wanted to discuss each answer before going on to the next question. It is particularly useful for opinion questions where there is no correct answer, but I have also used it where I wanted to go into the reasons why one answer is correct while another is a common error (e.g., in questions about grammar or style in writing classes). In such cases, you can opt to show live results, much as with Vevox.
A nice feature is “rooms”; you set up a room for the class at the beginning of the course, then students enter the name of the room whenever they go to socrative.com or open the app; there is no need for accounts or separate codes for each activity, and a name is much more memorable than a code (mine is “castleblack” because I first used Socrative in a course on fantasy literature). The free plan only gives you one room, but paid plans allow up to twenty.
Socrative is not as gamified as Kahoot, nor does it have the range of game options provided by Nearpod (of which more in a later article). However, there is one game feature, the “space race”, which despite its simplicity proved very engaging when I used it in class. This uses the same quiz input, but students compete to make a spaceship (or some other token) move across the screen. They can be assigned to teams or choose their own.
All in all, Socrative is a nice, basic quiz/poll app. It doesn’t do a lot, but what it does, it does well.