onlineTED polling

October 14, 2014 at 11:30 am | Posted in student response systems | Leave a comment
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onlineTED is a free online polling service for educators developed by the Technical University of Munich which has over 5000 users and won an Innovations in Teaching Award 2013.

Running a poll

As a tutor, your first step is to create an account and log in. The main screen displays a large QR code that students can snap with their phones directly from the screen in the lecture hall. There is also a URL and access code for students using laptops or non-QR-enabled devices. There is no need for students to create an account; they just need to enter the access code for the poll.

As soon as tutor starts a poll, students see the answer choices (only) on their mobile devices, not the question or any media. The question, media and answer choices are all displayed on the tutor’s screen, as well as the URL and access code in case students need to reconnect.

Students make their choice by touching or clicking a choice. This is immediately recorded and they cannot change their choice afterwards. The number of votes is shown at the bottom of the screen (in German, e.g. 17 Stimme)

The tutor starts a 6-second countdown, shown graphically on screen, then the results are automatically displayed as bars showing the % who voted for each option. The length of the bar is proportional and the correct answer (if there is one) is coloured green rather than blue.Tutors can run more than one poll in a session if they wish, so for example they could do a quick in-class evaluation at the end in addition to the main educational poll.

A Quick Poll feature enables tutors to quickly evaluate student opinion using the following scales:

  • Nominal (yes/no/undecided)
  • Ordinal (very low/low/medium/high/very high)
  • Ordinal (very good/good/satisfactory/sufficient/insufficient)
  • Rating (strongly agree/agree/neither agree nor disagree/disagree/strongly disagree)

Creating a poll

Tutors can log in to prepare polls for use in class. The Poll Editor starts simple; all you do is enter the poll name and a single question with up to 5 answers. One of the answers can be selected as correct and a note (not displayed in poll) added. When this is saved, you are returned to the Poll Editor screen which lists all your polls, and you need to edit the poll to add further questions. The edit screen provides many more options: add question, show statistics and print view. Each question can be edited, deleted, re-ordered, or have a single media uploaded (max. 2MB GIF, JPG, PNG, MP3 and MOV).

Viewing results

The results are of course shown on-screen in class, and the tutor can use next/previous buttons to review the responses to any  question until they leave the poll. After that, they must use the Poll Editor to edit the poll to be able to view statistics. They must choose the exact time/date of their poll from a drop-down list of ALL polls by all users. They can compare results with a previous run of the poll (again chosen by exact date/time). Both these views (result and comparison) can be displayed in a print-friendly format.


This free system has many strengths; the simple interface, the ease of student access, the clear countdown and results display. The Quick Poll feature provides a simple way to quickly gain student feedback on impromptu questions. Drawbacks are that students cannot change their vote and that viewing results of a poll later involves knowing the exact date/time that it finished. Another concern is that as this free service grows in popularity, how will its developers fund its maintenance and infrastructure? One option could be for the project code to become open source, so institutions could run their own servers and join a community of developers.


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