Sunday / May 19

4 Ways to Measure Student Learning in Real Time

Recently the National Education Technology Plan was released by the Department of Education and has outlined many best practices pertaining to innovation. Within the plan, there are five key components that are addressed: learning, teaching, leadership, assessment, and infrastructure. All five of the components are incredibly important to learning and teaching, but some would argue that assessment plays the most crucial role in promoting the success of students. Measuring student learning is a very deep and complex topic. Over the years, though, technology has provided educators more viable options to administer assessments and obtain quality feedback within a more reasonable time frame. Below are four web tools that make measuring learning fun, informative, and engaging.

1. Plickers

Plickers is a simple tool that allows teachers to gather data on student comprehension with little technology. Simply visit and sign up for a free account. Then, set up your classes with as little or as much information that you see fit. The neat part about Plickers is it requires a set of placards that contain QR code type images to be printed out from the website. These placards are then handed out to the class and used to answer questions that are pushed out from the website. So where does the assessment piece come into play? Download the Plickers app onto your smartphone or tablet and sync it with virtual class you set up on the website. Then project the questions you created on the big screen in your classroom. As students read the questions they will hold up their placard a certain way based on the answer they want to give. The teacher will then scan the room with the Plickers app that was downloaded. In real time, both the teachers and students will see results from the questions posted on the topic at hand. Plickers is a great mix of old school and new school techniques to gather data and help address learning gaps in real time.

2. EduCanon

eduCanon provides users with an opportunity to embed questions within video clips. Visit and start embedding questions to videos that you find on sites such as YouTube. You can also utilize question embedded videos that have been created by other educators. How powerful would it be for teachers to truly understand if their students really comprehend what their students watching in real time? Gone are the days of students just watching a video and answering follow up questions on an as needed basis. With eduCanon, students can watch a video and check for understanding at various points with a few taps of the touch pad. Struggling with a certain math concept? No problem. Access a related video through the search box and interact with the content by answering questions in real time.

3. PearDeck

PearDeck is an interactive presentation tool that allows teachers and students to assess in real time. Visit and sign in with your Google account to get started. There are various question types that can be embedded within the slide deck you create including draggable, drawing, multiple choice, free text response, and free number response. Once the slide deck is created it can be pushed out to student’s devices and accessed through a link that is given by the teacher. As the class makes their way through the interactive presentation the teacher can look on their dashboard for data in order to drive instruction in real time. Other websites like Kahoot, TED, HSTRY, and Popplet can be embedded in a slide deck.

4. Flipgrid

Flipgrid enables teachers to create grids of questions or topics using text or video and then share with students. Visit to register for a free trial and set up your very own virtual classroom. Once signed up, the teacher can start their very own discussion by recording a short video clip that contains a question which is then pushed out to the class. Students then respond to the question by recording and posting their video clip. All of the interactions are archived and viewed within the grid that the teacher created. Responses also be shared out for others to view outside of the virtual classroom if warranted. Flipgrid is a great tool to build community, foster collaboration, and assess student comprehension in real time.

As you can see there are many options available for educators to leverage the power of technology in order to measure student learning. Plickers, eduCanon, PearDeck, and FlipGrid are just a few “tools of the trade” that can make assessment fun and meaningful. Over the next several weeks and months consider piloting one of these tools in your classroom, school, or district. Also, don’t be afraid to hand over the keys to your students and have them drive their own learning with these various web applications. The time is now to start utilizing these new forms of assessment in order to promote the success of all students.

Written by

Brad Currie is the Dean of Students and Supervisor of Instruction for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is also the Founding Partner and Chief Information Officer for Evolving Educators LLC. Brad began his career in 2001 as a Middle School Social Studies and Computer Education Teacher for the Hanover Township School District in Whippany, New Jersey. He is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader, Google Certified Educator, Google Education Trainer, author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Parents, Educators, and Communities, Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development, and the newly released 140 Twitter Tips for Educators.

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