Teaching in the age of COVID-19: Assessing learners remotely

Mar 19, 20
Teaching in the age of COVID-19: Assessing learners remotely


COVID19 assessing learnersProviding content is great, but learner assessment is crucial in order to measure educational impact. Digital assessment is valid and reliable; it allows for multiple evaluations and gives learners the opportunity to actively participate in the educational process. Testing for most types of summative and formative evaluations can be done digitally. In this post, we describe the most suitable and reliable tools for assessing learners remotely.


Socrative is a web and app-based quiz platform. Teachers can design tests in advance or ask spontaneous questions. Question formats include True/False, multiple-choice, and short answer. Questions can also include images.


  1. Free for up to 50 users.
  2. Real-time knowledge of how many learners are in the “room.”
  3. Pacing options allow for the teacher to release questions one at a time or give the entire quiz.
  4. Answers can be revealed or hidden.
  5. Tests can be shared between faculty.
  6. Data are available and exportable afterward to assess overall understanding by class.
  7. Allows you to design your curriculum or assessments flexibly.
  8. Allows you to easily track progress of individual students making it easier to hone in on learners in need.


  1. Allows a maximum of 50 learners per room (150 for Pro).
  2. Rostering and multiple rooms are only available in Pro.

Tips for Success:

  1. Use as a real-time tool to assess how learners retain information after an educational session or exercise. Consider using after lectures or other group sessions.
  2. Create core assessment questions and share with your peers within the same field. This way you can share resources, enrich your question content, and provide your students with opportunities for self-assessment.
  3. Use the live-results dashboard for synchronous assessment to observe students’ answers and timings. This can also help educators by giving insights about their question quality.
  4. Delivery method of a quiz can be set with various modes. Use “instant feedback” or “open navigation” option when you want to make asynchronous quiz activities. “Teacher paced” mode can be a great use of synchronous assessment strategy.


Mentimeter is a polling software that allows you to visualize answers in real-time. It can be quite effective to screen share as people log in their answers.


  1. Free for up to 50 users.
  2. Real-time knowledge of how many learners are in the “room.”
  3. Pacing options allow for the teacher to release questions one at a time or give the entire quiz.
  4. Answers can be revealed or hidden.
  5. Tests can be shared between faculty.
  6. Data are available and exportable to assess overall understanding by class.


  1. Allows a maximum of 50 learners per room (150 for Pro).
  2. Rostering and multiple rooms only available in Pro.

Tips for Success:

  1. Plan and test your quiz ahead of time. You can reset it as necessary.

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is a web-based audience response system that allows the presenter the ability to ask questions to the audience in real-time and view their responses. This tool can be used as a platform to interact with audiences during presentations and for formative feedback and assessment.


  1. Users can answer questions from their smartphones, tablets, or other devices using a browser, application or text.
  2. Interactive activities or questions can be embedded directly into the presentation using Google Slides, Keynote or Powerpoint.
  3. Participants can see others’ responses in real-time.
  4. Multiple formats can be utilized including multiple-choice questions, free text questions, clickable images, and word clouds.
  5. Gamification can be incorporated. Participants can track their progress in real-time and identify “leaders of the pack.”
  6. With a paid subscription, Poll Everywhere can connect to Learning Management Systems to import class rosters such as Blackboard, Canvas, and BrightSpace.


  1. Requires internet access to activate the poll and text or internet capabilities to respond.
  2. Embedding questions into slides is a multi-step process that requires downloading different tools for Google Slides, Keynote and Powerpoint and questions are only able to be embedded into these platforms
  3. Users may feel that the process of inputting questions into Poll Everywehre’s format in addition to embedding them into the presentation and activating the polls is cumbersome.
  4. Maximum audience size of 40 participants for the free version.
  5. Some features are only accessible with a paid subscription including larger group polling, moderation of polling responses, additional analytic tools and the ability to retrospectively analyze question data, integration with LMS, grading tools, and custom branding.

Tips for success

  1. Check out this post for some tips from Poll Everywhere.
  2. When writing questions, download the free Poll Everywhere app on your device appropriate for the tool utilized (Google slides, Powerpoint or Keynote versions).
  3. Set aside time at the beginning of the session to allow participants to log into the poll.
  4. Start with a simple practice poll question to allow users to become familiar with the technology and process of submitting responses on their devices.
  5. Remember to activate your poll to get started capturing responses.
  6. Less can be more: to avoid question fatigue, limit the total number of questions utilized during your talk
  7. Try to mix it up: Poll Everywhere offers multiple question formats that can be utilized to capture audience attention and participation and limit fatigue from too many questions in the same format
  8. Interactive activities such as Poll Everywhere questions take time! Plan accordingly when setting the length and timing of your presentation, and budget 1-2 minutes per question to allow time for responses and discussion.

Google Forms

Google Forms is a free online data collection and quiz tool with multiple types of questions. With a free Google account, anyone can create an online survey and also collaborate on other online forms of assessment. The results of data collection can be seen descriptively in the results section or can be downloaded as a CSV file.


  1. Completely free and unlimited for creating forms, collecting data, and storing data within your own Google Account.
  2. The form-creation interface is easy to use and shows the preview of your final form.
  3. Masked questions can help you collect what you need (e.g., data, email).
  4. Enabling “quiz mode” allows responses to be graded.
  5. The “File Upload” question type allows for attachments from learners. Files can be restricted by type (e.g. PDF, Video, Image etc.), and size.


  1. Whatever you collect is stored on Google. Be careful of private questions.
  2. Conditional questions change based on previous responses and require different sections to redirect.
  3. Design features are limited and HTML cannot be used in the forms.
  4. Learners cannot be tracked to determine whether or not they filled out the form.

Tips for success

  1. Use Quiz mode for online assessment. This will allow you to set correct answers and the form will automatically mark the quiz for you! Yay!
  2. Design and organize forms collaboratively by giving access and permissions for other users to edit the form.
  3. Use different theme options to customize your form and make it more appealing and applicable.
  4. Embed your form if you need to integrate with your learning management system, website, or platform.

Summary Infographic for this Post

Stay tuned for the rest of this burst series, and if you missed them, check out our introduction post and posts highlighting real time videoconferencing, recording technologies, small group conversations, and asynchronous chats. For more information regarding remote work and education, check out ALiEM Remote.

Don’t want to reinvent the wheel for your weekly resident conferences? Check out ALiEM Connect, a live educational telecast with a concurrent moderated backchannel discussion.” edited as appropriately at the end of each post.









Author information

Yusuf Yilmaz, PhD

Yusuf Yilmaz, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Education Research
Innovation and Theory (MERIT) Program, McMaster University

The post Teaching in the age of COVID-19: Assessing learners remotely appeared first on ALiEM.

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