Consensus Building & Polling Tools

Consensus Building

Consensus-building tools help participants narrow and refine proposed solutions of a project.  They are also useful in facilitating the two key requirements for reaching agreements in a work group setting by identifying and understanding issues and resolving conflicts. Teachers and students can facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling.

Many of the ideation tools also can be used to build consensus.  Once the initial ideas are presented then through a process of discussion and elimination, ideas can be narrowed down and agreed upon.  Oftentimes students need time and opportunity to leave their comments so everyone can be  heard before a decision can be made.  Ideation and consensus often happen at the same time but separating them gives introverts time to process the ideas and comment.

Diagrams: Many of the collaborative technology tools have the ability to create graphic organizers to scaffold decision-making – like a Venn Diagram or flowchart.  Google Docs or Google Drawings has built in templates of some common diagrams or you can create your own. Students can edit drawings online or invite others to view edits in real time.  Students can chat with others who are editing a drawing right within the drawings editor to build consensus.  The drawings can then be published online or embedded in other Google programs so all can see the results.

PadletPadlet (formally known as Wallwisher) is another brainstorming tool that can be used for ideation but also for consensus making.  The ability to leave notes with messages and then move and organize them is very easy for younger students to understand and use and perfect for quick brainstorming & decision making in the classroom.  You do not need a Wallwisher account to create or post on a wall but if you create a wall without logging in or signing up, you may be unable to edit the wall after 24 hours but it will still be available to view.  Wallwisher does have some other interesting features like the ability to use RSS to follow the posts being made, add Multimedia within the notes, moderate the comments being made, or share by an unique QR code created just for your page.

Another interesting tool for older students is Debategraph.  DebateGraph is a cloud-based service that offers individuals and communities a powerful way to learn about and deliberate and decide on complex issues. These graphs allow users to visualize, question, and evaluate all of the considerations that any member thinks may be relevant to the topic at hand – and facilitate intelligent, constructive dialogue within the community around those issues.

Google Moderator allows you to create a series about anything that you are interested in discussing with your class or school and open it up for people to submit questions, ideas, or suggestions.

 


 

Polling:  Using technology tools to poll audiences is easy and efficient and polling can be used to facilitate consensus or gather information.  You don’t need specialized audience response hardware to get feedback.  Poll Everywhere conducts surveys using the web, texting, or Twitter and can be used with a cellphone (SMS), smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.  These polls can be made by teachers or students.  Poll Everywhere is free for audiences of 40 people or less and they offer paid plans for larger audiences and K-12 semester-long plans.  Survey Monkey is a popular online survey tool because it’s easy to send free surveys, polls or questionnaires.

Socrative is another student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.  Socrative is better for teacher-directed consensus building.  Teachers login through their device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students simply login with their device or online, and interact real time with the content.

For schools using iPads, Nearpod allows teachers to create enriched multimedia presentations with interactive features using their cloud-based content tool and then share the content with the students and control the activity with the Nearpod app.  Students submit responses on their mobile devices while the teacher monitors classroom activity and measure student results on an individual and aggregate basis.

Celly is a mobile social network that works with any mobile phone or device. Members can join instantly with one text and exchange group messages, polls, reminders, and web alerts.  Celly can enhances school communication such as:  study groups, announcement for clubs, field trips, clickers & polling, reminders and alerts, notes, and interactive walls.  Learn more at http://cel.ly/school and Celly for School Start Up Guide.

Another simple solution for polling is by using Google Forms and Sheets.  Students or teachers can create a customized form to gather feedback, vote on a result, or brainstorm solutions and then the responses are collected in a spreadsheet.  Form creators can choose whether to require users to login with their Google accounts or be anonymous.  Creators can use a variety of questions types like checkboxes, grid, drop-down lists with options, multiple choice, paragraph text (which allow for long answers) or scale.  You can add section headers to divide your form in sections to make it easier to read and complete and/or you can split the questions into multiple pages

Here are six examples of different ways to collect data using a Google Form:

  1. Have students conduct experiment in classroom and one member goes to teacher’s computer to enter data for that group
  2. Have students create surveys using Google forms and display on own computer; students travel from machine to machine to fill out the survey
  3. Email the form to participants to collect data (can embed the form in the email); must know all members email addresses
  4. Email the form by using a distribution list from your contacts  (very easy if using Google Apps since all domain names are the same)
  5. Share the URL of the published form; consider using a URL shortener for easy access like:  http://goo.gl/http://bit.ly/ or http://tinyurl.com/
  6. Embed the form in a Google Site, Google+, wiki, blog or Moodle.

Finally, a favorite tool of mine is Doodle for deciding on meeting times when there are multiple options and several attendees.  Doodle will also automatically sync appointments to your calendar.

Co-Creation & Ideation Tools

Co-creation and ideation tools facilitate the most direct interaction between team members on the goals or desired outcomes of the project. Using these tools, participants can often work in groups directly editing or building the project artifact.  Several of these tools are the same ones used for project management – which is great – because the students will already be familiar with the interface.

Google Apps for Education A group of students can work together on an in Google Docs and Spreadsheets, seeing changes in real time and even discuss the process or comment right within the tool.  Everything is automatically saved in the cloud which means that documents, presentations and sites can be accessed – and edited – on almost any mobile device, computer or tablet.

Group members can edit documents, presentations or websites with images, videos, tables, drawings, or links and teachers or other students can give feedback by adding comments. The discussion feature (now available in Spreadsheet and Presentations as well as Docs) allows team members to talk about the project, what to do, how its going, etc right within the project.  You can even use the Research tool right within Documents to search for content on the web. Google Sites can be used as a portfolio or as a place to embed and showcase student projects. As a teacher you can create a template of a Site that contains directions, examples, links to resources and helpful tips and then have your students make a copy of the site.   This productivity suite was made for collaboration!  Other collaboration suites are:  Zoho Docs  and Microsoft 365.

Google Apps Examples:

  • Spanish students worked collaboratively to create a newspaper with a variety of articles: “LA PRENSA DE LAS PANTERAS”
  • Students use a Google form to collect data about the relationship between your height and wingspan to prove or disprove Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”
  • Students researched Biomes and various projects were embedded into a Google Site

WikispacesWikispaces: A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser.  On a wiki students can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media.  A wiki can be made public so anyone can edit the space or limited to just a class or a few participants.  Many different types of projects can be embedded in a wiki so they work well for showcasing projects made with other tools like:  videos, documents, polls, calendars, maps and specific Web 2.0 tools where you can get the HTML embed code (example:  Google Presentations, VoiceThread). Wikispaces provides free wikis for teachers and they do not contain ads. Don’t forget the tips for collaborative projects using Wikispaces. Another wiki option is PBWorks.

Wiki Examples:

  • High School online collaborative writing wiki
  • Elementary students in Auckland, New Zealand are using part of their class wiki as a blog and the other half to showcase student-created projects.
  • wiki to showcase student-made math movies

 

Evernote is a great tool for students and teachers to capture notes, save research, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, record audio and more. Everything you add to your account is automatically synced and made available on all the computers, phones and tablets you use.  Notebooks can then be shared with group members and accessed from anywhere.

Evernote Examples:

  • Elementary grade students use Evernote for student portfolios
  • Here is a blog post how a Librarian uses Evernote as a research tool.

 

MeetingWords is a very simple text editor for the web. Your text is saved on the web, and more than one person can edit the same document at the same time. Everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens.  You can work together on notes, brainstorming sessions, homework, etc.

Other content creation options:

VoiceThread:  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice through a Facebook Fan Page (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too. Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies. (https://voicethread.com/about/features/)  Here is a wiki with VoiceThread examples: http://voicethread4education.wikispaces.com/


Prezi:
  Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson.  You can work together on the same prezi in real-time. With Prezi Meeting, teams can collaborate live or simply present prezis with up to 10 people in a prezi at one time. Prezi Meeting is included in all license types.

 


 

Ideation

Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.  There are several technology tools that support this brainstorming process.

Mindmeister:  You can work with multiple users simultaneously on the same mind map. All collaborators will be shown in the map footer if they are working on the same mind map. You can turn on the History View to see what changes have been done by which users. You can share your mind maps with a single collaborator, group, or public.  You can give presentations directly from MindMeister either online to other collaborators or with a projector.

Popplet:  Popplet is a place to collect ideas.  Its very simple to use easy great for younger kids.  You can collect inspiration, record thoughts, explore ideas, create galleries. Popplets share be shared and collaborated in real time.

Padlet:  (formerly called Wallwisher) is a super easy way to collect ideas, images, and multimedia onto a simple “wall”.  Works great on tablets too.

Other mind-mapping tools: Webspiration Classroom and Creately (paid)


Creative Commons / Copyfriendly Images/Audio/Music

Discuss with students how we can honor intellectual property by searching the web for “copyfriendly” images to use for collaborative projects.  Help students to understand that all of their work – whether digital or not – is copyrighted the minute they create it. You do not need a © symbol to copyright your work.  You created it – you own it!

I like to appeal to the creative musicians, photographers and artists in my classes.  I try to help students understand that they can CHOOSE to share their creations and still maintain ownership.  This leads to a discussion about Creative Commons licensing.  If a student is willing to share their work to be remixed, changed or altered they must decided whether to allow commercial use or not.  Going through the process of choosing a license for their own work reinforces the concept of “honoring” the intentions of the other content-creators.

Inevitably, a student brings up the concept of “fair use” and wonders why they can’t just so a Google image search for their school-related assignments.  Its at this point that we talk about the purpose of citations for school work – that citing an image for a PowerPoint or presentation means that you are not taking credit for having made the image used and are indicating on the Works Cited page who is the original owner.

This discussion helps students to understand that under fair use laws, teachers must still follow certain rules:

  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students’ ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session.

Sure, there are always going to be those who think that if its on the Internet then they should be able to use it. But presenting Copyright vs. Creative Commons in a way that explains WHY and focus on HONORING the work of others, gets kids thinking about themselves as content-creators and how they would feel if someone “stole” their work and made money off it.

My all-time favorite resource to share with students is Joyce Valenza’s CopyFriendly Resource Page.