Paperless Assessments: Using Smart Response VE

Note this is one of the posts I will be bringing over from my previous blog.  This was originally posted on May 11, 2012.

For the past two years I have been using the Smart Response software and technology.  For those of you unfamiliar with the technology; each student has a “clicker” that allows them to answer questions.  A receiver is attached to the computer through a USB port.  Smart Response software allows for class lists to be input or imported into the program.  Each student on the list is assigned an ID # and the software can track assessment results, much like a computerized grade book

Smart Response PE Remote

There are many great things this system offers.  Probably the best part is that it can offer instant feedback to both students and teachers about how well students perform on assessments.  It can be set up to show the results anonymously or it can be set up for the results to be “recorded” in the virtual grade book.  With either method the overall class results (percentage of students answering correctly) can be seen instantly in the form of a pie chart.  This allows teachers to reteach topics when overall the students did not perform well.  While it is probably not wise to project the individual results of questions, this information is also available at the touch of the mouse.

This system is great when giving short assessments.  For example a five question review to begin or end class works very well using this system.  Personally, I have also given longer assessments, however that is when issues arise.  The issues are not with the software or hardware, but with class management.  You see the questions are projected onto the SmartBoard.  Therefore students can only move as fast as the slowest person answering  in the class.  A few times last year I combated this by printing off paper copies of the assessment and then having the students enter the answers using the clickers.  This worked okay, but it then brought paper back into the equation.

Before I was able to find funding to purchase the class iPod Touches I heard that Smart was beta testing a new program called Smart Response VE.  This program was aimed at allowing students to use their iPods and phones as a clicker.  Smart Response VE was aimed more toward colleges.  Since some colleges had begun requiring students to purchase their own personal Smart Response clicker, VE would allow those students to save money and simply use their smartphones,  iPods, or other internet ready devices.  While I did not know all of the details about the new software, for me one of the most exciting parts was that the questions and answers would appear directly on the screens of the devices.  This would allow students to work at their own pace and go back on their own to check or change previous answers.

Since Smart Response VE is aimed more at colleges than elementary, middle or high schools licenses are purchased per teacher.  Fortunately, there was still some money in the software budget that allowed the purchase of a license for my classroom until June 1, 2013.  Since I have only had about a week to experiment with Smart Response VE my experience is limited.  In fact I have not used the program for a quick assessment, only for a unit test.  Nevertheless, I wanted to share what we were able to do and how it works.

Creating the actual questions and answers is exactly the same as it was when using the PE remotes.  There are ways to import questions from Microsoft Word and a few other programs, but I have not had a chance to experiment with that feature yet.  Just as I did before upgrading to VE I start the class and begin the assessment.  Now instead of the students signing in using their PE remotes they go to the Smart Response website.  My students used the iPod Touches, but any internet enabled device would work the same way.

To begin students must know their Student ID, which is the same number they have used in the past.  When the “Begin Assessment” button is clicked on the computer a window pops up showing the Assessment ID.  This does slightly slow down the beginning of assessments when compared to using the PE remotes.  I should clarify when I say slow down, I mean it takes 8-10 seconds instead of the normal 3-4 seconds.

Once the students sign in, I can still see how they are progressing and if I choose what answers they have chosen.  There answers are not locked until they click submit after completing the questions.  There is a slight delay once the students have chosen their answers before it shows up on the computer, but it is not an extremely long delay (15-20 seconds in most cases).

Example True/False Question
Example Multiple Choice Question

In addition to the students being able to work at their own pace, students can also click the “Question List” link to see all of the questions and their current answer.  This can be extremely useful if the students need to go back and change an answer.  Using the PE remotes students could only see the question numbers, not the actual questions.

Question List, any question can be clicked on to change or review the answer(s).

Just like with the PE remotes, the software allows the teacher to determine if the students will see their results immediately upon submitting their answers or if they will have to wait until everyone is finished and the assessment has been stopped.

Submitting Answers

Overall, in my limited, experience I was and continue to be very excited about the ways I can implement Smart Response VE in my classroom.  To me the ability for my students to work at their own pace and the immediate feedback made the investment in the software worth it.


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