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Keypad Technology and Experts

Keypads are audience response devices that look like little calculators or remote controls. They are used in group meetings or events to collect audience responses or opinions, allowing audience members to interact with presentations, give feedback, and become more engaged in large-group settings. Keypads are often used as an added element in large-group deliberation and dialogue events.

This resource lists and links to experts in keypad response system as well as mobile device response systems, as recommended by NCDD members in April 2010.

When using a response system, each participant receives a keypad. The facilitator or presenter, who uses a visual presentation such as a PowerPoint, asks the audience multiple-choice questions, which each person responds to with their keypad. The data is then collected by a wireless receiver and sent to a computer, which instantly displays a visual representation of the data. Responses can be collected either anonymously or traced to individual audience members.

These keypad response systems have a number of applications. They can be used for voting or polling, to assess or test knowledge (for example, in a classroom setting, or to determine how well the audience has understood key points of a presentation), and to quickly gather data (such as demographic information or to confirm who is in attendance). The systems are used in a variety of settings and have been utilized in classrooms; at conferences, events, and corporate trainings; for market research; and for decision-making and support.

Much of the info above is from the Wikipedia article on Audience Response at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audience_response. Also be sure to check out David Campt and Michael Freeman’s 2009 IJP2 article “Talk through the hand: Using audience response keypads to augment the facilitation of small group dialogue” at www.iap2.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=378.

Some Experts in Audience Response Technology…

If you are looking for an expert in audience response technology, you can contact the following keypad response system facilitators and trainers. They were recommended by NCDD members in an April 2010 listserv discussion and through comments on an NCDD blog post.

David Campt (www.davidcampt.com) – David’s DWC Group offers rentable keypad systems for audience participation, as well as design and facilitation services for events and training for clients to learn how to use the keypads most effectively for various types of meetings and objectives. The DWC Group has a page explaining more about the general uses of keypad audience response systems at http://www.thedwcgroup.com/Gallery/KAP.pdf.

Chris Bui at 5th Medium I.C. (Interactive Communications) – Chris and 5th Media I.C. design, facilitate, and implement civic engagement programs and summits which incorporate wireless keypad systems for interactive voting and group meetings. For more information, email Chris at ca5bui@comcast.net.

John D. Godec (www.godecrandall.com) – John’s firm consults and trains businesses and government in high stakes communication, consensus building, conflict resolution and public involvement. John and his partner, Theresa Gunn, have been using keypad technology for about 15 years for decision-support work and find it exceptionally effective with good facilitation.

Matthew FreemanMatthew has used keypads as a tool for dialogue facilitation, deliberation, and group decision-making. He works with Hope in the Cities in Richmond, VA and uses keypads in his facilitation on a weekly basis. He also co-authored an International Journal of Public Participation article with David Campt about using the technology for dialogue called Talk Through the Hand: Using audience response keypads to augment the facilitation of small group dialogue. (suggested by David Campt)

Padgett Communications (www.pcipro.com) – Padgett Communications offers a variety of wireless keypad systems for rental. Those interested can visit the website for more information and price quotes, call 888-233-4724, or contact Tim Alcott at tim@pcipro.com. (suggested by Bill McGowan)

Ron Thomas – Ron has been working since the early 1990s as the planner, manager, and facilitator for keypad supported technology and can bring in the most appropriate hardware provider for a venue. The Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission utilized keypads during his directorship at the organization. He has also written a case study of the community-based process using keypads in Kentucky, where this historic corridor was planned, design, and constructed in six years with the community and state Department of Transportation; email Ron for a copy of this excellent report. He currently uses this technology in his current consulting practice, which has planned and directed three AmericaSpeaks-scale forums in the last two years.

AmericaSpeaks (www.americaspeaks.org) – AmericaSpeaks offers keypad training and rentals for events. A number of the organization’s staff and associates are trained in conducting keypad polling sessions. NCDD member Susanna Haas Lyons runs keypads as part of the AmericaSpeaks team. (suggested by Janet Fiero)

Turning Point (www.turningtechnologies.com)Turning Technologies offers the TurningPoint audience response system and rentable keypads, which can be used with Microsoft PowerPoint. They also offer ResponseWare™, a response system which allows participants to use their mobile devices and computers to respond through the internet. (suggested by Janet Fiero)

Walt Roberts (http://waltsearch.wordpress.com) – Walt uses a custom-developed polling system called “Possibility,” which he helped to develop. He offers innovative and integrated approaches to keypad polling-assisted deliberation and decision making. To learn more about his keypad response system, go to http://waltsearch.wordpress.com/about-walt-blog/keypad-polling.

Ken Snyder at PlaceMatters (www.placematters.org) – PlaceMatters helps communities to plan and implement keypad polling events. The organization also provides AnyWare software, which collects responses from computers, mobile devices, and keypads both on-location and remotely. (suggested by Ariana McBride and Chris Haller)

Ascentum (www.ascentum.com)Ascentum, a professional services firm specializing in public participation and social media, has been using voting keypad technologies for the past two years in their in-person dialogue processes. (suggested by Ellis Westwood)

Mike Smith at One Counts (www.onecounts.com) – One Counts is the company that has been managing the technology (keypads, laptops, multi-site networking, A/V, etc.) at AmericaSpeaks’ large engagement events over the years. Described by NCDD member Susanna Haas Lyons as an “esteemed voting and technical direction company.” Mike can be reached at mike [at] onecounts.com. (suggested by Janet Fiero)

Ubiqus (www.ubiqus.com) – Formerly RSi Communications, Ubiqus has a core staff of consultants with decades of experience in adult education using audience response voting systems. Our in-house staff and network of freelance technicians are specially trained and have logged thousands of successful events. From a 15-person focus group to a symposium of over 2000, Ubiqus has the audience response equipment, technicians and consulting expertise to make your meeting or event an overwhelming success. We can even supply the Reply Plus Audience Response System, the most powerful technology and software available in the Audience Response industry today. (recommended by Gina Sana, who said “We used Ubiqus for a few years for our Audience Response needs, the service was great. They went out of their way to make sure the meeting went well.”)

Jim Snider of iSolon.org also noted that because of the prevalence of use of keypad technology in college or public school classrooms, it’s possible that these schools may have both underutilized keypads available and experts in this technology. For more about the use of keypads in educational settings, check out this article.

Mobile Device Response Systems

The following organizations provide audience response services through mobile devices.

TexttheMob (http://textthemob.com) – TexttheMob allows you to easily set up your own message boards and multiple choice questions for cell phones, with a free plan available. It is run by Urban Interactive Studio LLC, a technology consulting firm specializing in Web and mobile solutions. (suggested by Chris Haller)

MobileActive (http://mobileactive.org) – MobileActive.org helps organizations to utilize mobile technology with data, tools, and how-to resources and helps people and organizations using this technology for social change to connect with one another. (suggested by Lars Hasselblad Torres)

Poll Everywhere (www.polleverywhere.com) – Poll Everywhere is a text message voting application for live audiences using on-screen presentations. Participants can vote, comment, or ask questions to a presenter through text messages or Twitter. (suggested by Lars Hasselblad Torres)

SMS Harvest (www.smsharvest.com) – A simple tool designed to be pretty low-tech (according to creator Luke Closs). Attendees text in thoughts, ideas or answer questions, and messages are grouped by tags you set up. You explore the results to make sense of all the feedback, and then share the results with your community. Useful for groups from 5 to 5000. Luke explains that “participants get a local phone number that they can send text messages to.  The website shows a live feed of the responses, and stores the responses in different groups you set up.  After, you can get at all of the responses for sense-making. Harvest administrators can set a group question, and add or remove tags during the event, right from their phones.” You can try the example harvest here: http://smsharvest.com/event/demo

Textizen (www.textizen.com) – An SMS-based surveying tool that has been used as part of an urban planning project in Philadelphia. “Open civic dialogue to new participants with a powerful mix of offline outreach and online engagement. We’re citizen feedback for the digital age.”

SayZu (www.sayzu.com) – Analysis and engagement tool for online conversations. Really see whats being said on social media. Drill down, and share. Engage live audiences with constantly updating cloud visualizations.

MobiOde (www.mobiode.com) – Mobiode offers survey and polling services which collect data from users through their mobile phones. Surveys and results are displayed online through the company’s web interface. (suggested by Lars Hasselblad Torres)

mClk (www.mclkonline.com) – According to the mClk website, “mClk is the audience response system for 21st Century classrooms and boardrooms.” Questions are posted in PowerPoint, responses are submitted on participants’ phones via text message, and results are presented instantly. Audience response systems “clickers” are proven to improve student learning and engage workshop participants. Students do not have to have a smart phone or data plan–text messaging is all that is required. (suggested by Rebecca Woulfe)

PowerVote (www.powervote.com) – “PowerVote’s electronic voting system is the perfect tool to engage and interact with your audience in real-time. It has been used effectively in a variety of sectors and business situations to measure audience response and present instantaneous results in clear graphical images.”  Features include: Easy-to-use lightweight voting keypads, ergonomic LCD screen*, Plug & Play USB vote receiver, Track and identify each voting keypad, Wireless Secure Transmission and One year Guarantee.

Have additional suggestions? Please add a comment to this post!

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  1. Gina Sana Says:

    We used Ubiqus for a few years for our Audience Response needs, the service was great. They went out of their way to make sure the meeting went well.



  2. Susanna Haas Lyons Says:

    You can reach Mike Smith, of the esteemed One Counts voting and technical direction company, at mike [at] onecounts.com

  3. Rebecca Woulfe Says:

    Please add mClk – http://www.mclkonline.com to your list of Mobile Device Response Systems. Thank you!

  4. Sandy Heierbacher Says:

    Thanks so much for your suggestions, Gina, Susanna and Rebecca. I’ve updated the “Keypad Technology & Experts” resource to include your contributions. Let me know if you have any more input!

  5. Didier Moulin Says:

    Please add PowerVote http://www.powervote.com to your list of expert in Audience Response Technology

  6. USAID Presentation « BetterEvaluation Says:

    […] https://ncdd.org/rc/item/3601 for information on keypad technology developed by the National Coalition for Dialogue & […]

  7. Sandy Heierbacher Says:

    I’ve added Powervote, Didier! Feel free to tweak the description if you’d like. Post it here and I’ll make the changes.

  8. James Says:

    This is totally nice and everyone should follow the same procedure.