Getting started

Poll Everywhere is a great web or SMS-text messaging based student response system. Prior to COVID-19, you may have used us for live in-person classes to engage your students. Now, the future of the classroom is unclear. Schools are constantly changing the decision to be fully remote and instructors are left to guess. We, just like you, are incapable of predicting the future. However, we’re here to help you develop a flexible teaching toolkit filled with remote-ready solutions for distance learning. Regardless of whether this upcoming semester is in-person or behind a camera, you will be ready with Poll Everywhere.

If you are looking for detailed instructions on how to use Poll Everywhere or general distance learning best practices, check out these additional resources:

Before you begin adding activities to your existing lessons, there are a few steps to take to set up your account.

Student registration

Import participants

In a distance learning environment, it can be challenging to keep track of each student’s participation. If you or any of your faculty will be using Poll Everywhere for grading, participation, or attendance, we strongly recommend that you enable student registration by default at the account level.

If your Poll Everywhere activities aren’t restricted to registered participants and you haven’t imported your roster, the students who aren’t logged in with their school affiliated email will not be able to get credit.

Import participants

You can import a list of participants and automatically register them to participate in your activities. This essentially creates participant accounts for your students if you have all the required information. Your participants can then simply log in with the email address and password you’ve assigned them. If a participant wants to respond via text, and you have not included a mobile phone number on their registration, they must log in and enter the phone number that they will be using to respond. They must also certify their phone number in order for text responses to be associated with their participant account. Read the Import participants article for step-by-step instructions on importing students with CSV files.

Participant groups

Once you’ve registered your participants, we highly recommend assigning them to Participant Groups. Create Participant Groups for each class you take with the appropriate students in it. This is the only way to tell if a student has never participated in any activities in the Gradebook report. There are two ways to create and assign students to a Participant Group:

  • Importing a CSV If you follow the steps above on how to import students through a CSV file, you will see that you have the option of assigning them to an existing group or creating a new one. If your CSV file contains all of the students for ONE class, then you can create a new one for that specific class. For example, if you collected information for your 8AM ECON 1 class, then you can create a new group name “ECON1-8AM” with those specific students. Those students will now be registered to your account and you will be able to export their specific grades in one Gradebook report.

Participant group

  • Creating a new group from the Participants tab If your students are already registered but ungrouped, you can create and assign groups directly in the Participants tab on

On the right hand side, you will find your Participant groups. Click “New group” to create and name a new group.

New group

Name group

From here, you can either invite participants to this group with the special invite link and have them self-register into your group or assign them to this new group by clicking on the designated circle next to their name.

Invite participant

Assign group

Student pays

Some institutions choose a “pay as you go” approach and have students pay while registering with an instructor’s account. Students cover a one-time payment for a full year of unlimited use. This plan covers every instructor from the institution who uses this plan. There are two payment options: 1. Registering via a web browser 2. Registering on iOS devices

For a detailed breakdown of each payment method, check out the Student Pays article.

Activity settings

The Activity settings tab of the My settings page gives you control over several handy features. Through this portal you can do things like create a template, determine how long you want activities to stay active, and even change the language of activity instructions. The full list and explanations follow.

Activity settings

Template activity

Activity template

If you find yourself using the same visual settings for many activities, you might consider creating a template activity. Creating a template activity will apply the same visual settings from that activity to all of your activities, creating a cohesive participant experience. Your students will know which activity is yours just by the visual settings. Check out the Template Activity article for instructions on setting a template.

Pinned Q&A activity

One of the challenges of distance learning is that students lose the ability to raise their hand to ask questions during live lectures. Even if you save time at the end of class to host a live Q&A, students may forget the question. To counter this, set a Pinned Q&A activity. A pinned activity stays active in the background, even when another activity is activated. Here’s how you can set a Pinned Q&A activity:

  1. Navigate to Activity settings located under your My settings
  2. Select an existing Q&A activity to pin

Pinned QA

  1. Save changes
  2. Collect feedback throughout your presentation

Now everytime you present, your participants will see a tab on your unique response page or the mobile or desktop apps with the Pinned Q&A activity. No activation necessary. (Only available on some plans, learn more.)

Set default activation period

Activation period

Asynchronous learning is a major part of distance learning, which means you may need to leave an activity active even after your live lectures. If so, you can set a default activation period for all activities. By default, questions will remain active for one day after you activate them unless you deactivate the activity manually. You can adjust this using the drop down menu on the Activity settings page. Visit the Activation time article for more information.

Participant screen names

Participant screen name

Without in-person classes, it is harder to keep track of who is responding to your activities. As an added layer of tracking, you can require participants to enter a screen name. This is not as bullet-proof as registered participants, but is more effective than using auto-generated IDs. You can require your students to use their full names or a special code that only your students would know (e.g. APPLES_JohnSmith). This way, if you see an unrecognizable participant without that code, you will know they are not a part of your class. For more information on this feature, visit the Screen names article.

Default activity settings

Every activity comes with default settings. These settings change how a new activity is configured. They can always be overridden on a per activity basis. Optimize your activities for distance learning by changing the default activity settings. Here are the recommended settings for distance learning:

Restrict participants

Restrict to registered participants only. Without an in-person class to confirm participation, limit your activities to registered participants only to ensure that only your students can respond.

Hide activity titles

Depending on the activity you are presenting, you may want to hide activity titles. If you are using Poll Everywhere to take attendance, you should hide activity titles. If you are simply engaging your students, show activity titles. Students may experience lag or internet issues that could interfere with live lecture. Showing the activity titles will allow your students to still participate in the activity even if they are experiencing interruptions. Note: This feature is only available for University-wide accounts.

Change answer

If you are using Poll Everywhere for online quizzes and assessments, you may want to choose “Do not allow participants to change their answer”. Otherwise, you can adjust this setting per activity.

Web responses

Allow participants to respond via the web. Participants have the option of using a web browser, the Poll Everywhere mobile or desktop app, or text messaging to respond to an activity. In a distance learning environment, your students may need to use their phones or laptops to participate, depending on which technology they have available. By allowing participants to respond via the web, you are making your activity as inclusive as possible.

Text message enable

Allow participants to respond via text messaging. Same applies for text messaging as the web. Some students may not have access to high speed internet and must rely on SMS text messaging to participate. This is a great low-tech alternative to the web browser or apps.

Show instructions

Whether you choose to show instructions or results will depend on the activity type you choose.

When should correct responses be visible to participants?

Correct response

If you choose to use Poll Everywhere to administer quizzes, you should adjust this setting to fit your schedule. Students can view correctness in their response history, which can be used as an effective review or study guide. You can override this setting later by clicking “Toggle correctness” in your activity chart. The only exception is choosing “Never” which ensures participants never see correctness in their response history.

Activity importer

Activity importer

If you have a large batch of questions you typically ask in-person throughout the year, you can import these using a CSV file to quickly create activities. Have a go-to icebreaker on the first day of school? Import it into Poll Everywhere and create a word cloud that you can share virtually. For the CSV template and detailed instructions, read this support article.

Learning management system (LMS) integration

As an online instructor, you’ll be juggling between different technology to create a cohesive learning environment for your students. Instead of overwhelming yourself and your students with a million different tools, integrate Poll Everywhere with LTI Advantage. If you’re on a university-wide account, your institution’s LMS is supported such as Canvas, Blackboard, and more. You can find our full LTI Advantage setup and user guides on our LTI Advantage guides support article.