Audience Response Systems

Audience Response Systems (ARS) are used in classrooms of all sizes to engage participants by facilitating interactions among the students and the instructor. Instructors use audience response technologies to communicate with learners and collect feedback on questions. Learners respond to these questions using their own web-enabled devices, such as a phone, tablet, or laptop computer. These interactions can help instructors increase student participation, facilitate discussion, assess students’ understanding of concepts, and provide immediate feedback.

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is the Audience Response System licensed by Columbia University and offered for free to support Teaching and Learning at Columbia. All Columbia University instructors can obtain a Poll Everywhere Presenter account. To get started using Poll Everywhere in your classroom please login here. If you are interested in using Poll Everywhere for some other purpose, please email and we will consider your request.

Access Poll Everywhere

Log in with your UNI.

Scroll down to learn more about teaching with ARS and how you can get support from the CTL for using Poll Everywhere.

Watch a short video of Carolyn Marvin using Poll Everywhere in her introductory neuroscience course to encourage discussion and engage students.

Why Use ARS?

  • Promote active participation: ARS can be used to engage students with the content the instructor is teaching by allowing the instructor to pose questions in-the-moment during the lecture.
  • Check for understanding: How does the instructor know if students are understanding what they are being taught? How do students know for themselves if they are learning? ARS is a great way to help students test their own understanding of the content. As they respond to questions they can see if their answer is correct or not through immediate classroom feedback. The instructor is also able to check for understanding through asking intentional and meaningful ARS questions that may highlight misconceptions or promote critical thinking.
  • Create a safe environment when discussing sensitive topics and engage students with different learning preferences: Students can respond to ARS questions anonymously. Responses the instructor receives through polling can be used as conversation starters on challenging or difficult topics. Responding to questions anonymously also removes the barrier of being afraid of being wrong and helps to engage students who may not normally speak up in class.
  • Promote discussion and peer instruction: During class, an instructor can ask an ARS question to their students. Based upon how varied the student responses are, the instructor can ask the students to talk to a peer near them who had a different response. This provides for an opportunity for discussion and peer instruction as students try to explain to one another the reason for their response. The instructor can then repoll the students with the same question and see if there are any changes in student responses and continue the discussion as a whole class.

Get Support

The CTL offers a range of in-person services and online resources for instructors learning how to introduce Poll Everywhere in their teaching.

In-Person Support

  • Email to set up a consultation or contact the CTL Learning Designer assigned to your school or department. Our learning designers help promote the purposeful use of educational technologies for hybrid and online education.
  • Contact the CTL during walk-in and call-in hours.

Online Resources

The CTL researches and experiments.

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning provides an array of resources and tools for instructional activities.