Wednesday, 2 April 2014

PollEverywhere Higher Education License Pricing

PollEverywhere is a 'bring your own device' audience response system. Your audience can respond by SMS or web (or Twitter!). Although we have access to clickers we found that they were not used as much as they could be - in part because of the extra effort of getting the clickers, handing them out and then getting them back. Last year one of my colleagues suggested that we look into PollEverywhere as it had been used by the university for public engagement events.

A free PollEverywhere license allows up to 40 responses to any question or poll. But we have over 300+ students in the 5 years of our undergraduate course so I approached PollEverywhere last year to find out how much a HigherEd license would be for 1500 students. I was advised that pricing was based on maximum number of responses not on students. This made sense since we would not actually be registering or tracking individual students on the system. So we purchased a license which allowed us to have up to 330 responses to each poll. This was priced at $3.50 per student response. The pricing model made sense because it felt as if we were buying 330 virtual clickers. This license allowed us to have an unlimited number of tutor accounts. We started with 50 but haven't needed to go beyond that yet.

We've been learning a lot as we have gone through the year about the pros and cons of using the various question types and I and others have used this license at various public events with great success. Last week we were contacted by PollEverywhere to inform us that we had gone outside the terms of our license. I have spoken to the PollEverywhere team today and they estimate that we have had 829 unique responders/students  to our polls in the last 2 months. They do this by applying an algorithim looking at IP addresses and unique mobile numbers. This isn't in any way surprising as we had a public engagement event a few weeks ago and have also been demonstrating PollEverywhere at teaching events and conferences.

PollEverywhere say that there has been a misunderstanding and that we have been purchasing unique accounts for our students not a maximum number of responses to a given poll. I asked about public engagement activities- would be need to purchase a separate license for these? They say that we don't need to if we email them in advance and let them know that we will be using the license to a public audience.

By the end of the week PollEverywhere are going to clarify the terms of the Higher Education license to us in writing. This documentation is being written now. They don't plan to put this on their website as they say that there has not been a need as there have been no other misunderstandings about this. Since I told many people about what I thought was the terms of our existing license I thought I would write this blog post to explain that my understanding of the license has now changed.

We now have to decide whether we want to purchase this license again considering that it will be 3-4times as expensive next year as this year. We will review other options such as Participoll. It may be back to clickers after all!