Turningpoint ResponseWare

While attending Handheld Learning 2009 last week, I finally got to have a play with Turningpoint ResponseWare.
ResponseWare is a web-based extension to the existing Turningpoint technology that allows for votes to be taken via web-enabled devices.

How does it work?

When creating a Turningpoint presentation there is just an extra option that needs to be toggled in order to take advantage of ResponseWare, at which point any web enabled devide can then take part in the voting.
The computer from which the presentation is being given needs to be connected to the internet, as do the client devices, however there is no complicated procedure to try and connect them all together, instead each device operates via connecting to the Turningpoint ResponseWare server. That of course is where the price comes in. There is a consecutive per seat licence fee of approx £18. So if we want to be able to have up to 300 students voting at any one moment across the whole University, that’s a yearly fee of £5,400.

Mixing with existing equipment

But of course, we can’t expect every student in the room to have a wifi/web-enabled device on them, and we don’t want them excluded! The good news is that ResponseWare complements the existing equipment and works in parallel with it or on it’s own. This means that 200 students in the room can be using a web-enabled device, and 100 students can use the existing Turningpoint handsets.

Extended functionality

There are additional features available when using a web-enabled device, and I’ll limit this post to describing the iPhone/iPodTouch application freely available from the iTunes app store.
When using ResponseWare, the participants not only see the questions and answer options presented on the screen, but they are also delivered via the ResponseWare server onto the client device putting the questions right into the students’ hands. With the iPhone/iPod application the student then just touches the answer option they want to choose and the number of votes on the main display is incremented telling everyone that another vote has been cast.
Finally, when the vote is closed, when the results graph is displayed on screen, it is also sent via ResponseWare to the client devices.

ResponseWare results graph

Additional features

  • You can skip back into the history of the current quiz to review all previous questions, answers, and results.
  • You can toggle results between percentage and counts.
  • You can take part anonymously or with a predetermined username and identification key.
  • Claims to support ‘messaging’ but (for some reason) this couldn’t be demonstrated.

Final opinion

I really like ResponseWare. It isn’t just turning any web-enabled device into a handset, it offers greater functionality. While taking part in the demo quiz at Handheld Learning, I was able to take the above screenshot on the iPod Touch, instantly capturing a question and set of answers that interested me. Something that isn’t that easy to do in the existing lecture scenario without pulling out a camera.
The licence fee does seem steep, and we chose to go this route we’d need to make sure there was sufficient demand. In addition we would still always need some physical handsets/dongles, and if demand was increasing we would probably also need to have more handsets/dongles.