pingpongI’ve recently met with the creators of PingPong, an app that is aimed at providing a higher level of interaction between teachers and students. It works by simply letting teachers create questions either on the spot (during class), or as a series or prepared questions (exam-style) that students will have to answer, possibly in a limited time.

The beauty of the app really resides in its simplicity and the fact that it is free. The user interface may appear a little Spartan, but that’s exactly why it works so well: it is extremely easy to build questions, and answering them is even easier. This means that it could work with very young children, although I don’t see why it couldn’t be used for adults. I don’t disagree that another design may work too, but the point is that function comes first here.Teachers have control over what’s going on in their virtual classrooms. For instance, once the app is started, the students are “locked in”, so they can’t exit to play game, browse the web or text-chat. In future versions, the developers plan to include reports, which would be critical to track progress. Today, this is something that is not integrated, and that would need to done the old fashion way in the existing system that the teacher currently uses. PingPong supports four basic types of questions/answers: Yes/No, Short text, Multiple Choices and drawing.

Available for iOS and Android, this assumes that students all have some kind of smart devices. While this may be more difficult in some places than others, it is fair to say that since Android devices can be found at very affordable prices, it shouldn’t be a real issue if the school is motivated and has even modest means to invest in something like this. In the future, the developers are thinking of creating a PC or a web version, although it is not clear what the final plan is. In my opinion, a managed web version with statistics and progress tracking could be a nice premium feature…

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