At TeachMeet Leeds last night I did a nano on a free tool I have recently started to use with great effect. A popular saying is “keep it simple” and this certainly does, hence the reason I was able to demo it in 2 minutes.
AnswerGarden basically involves a teacher typing in a question they want students to answer and clicking create. A unique page with its own URL is created which is blank apart from the question at the top of the page and a dialogue box for an answer to be given. The dialogue box only allows answers of maximum 20 characters, a feature I really like as it limits the answers making a really quick-to-use tool. It looks like this:
Now that looks kind of boring and when the URL is shared with students the design doesn’t really improve that much as the words just appear on refresh, in the same font randomly across the page. Ok, repeated answers where they appear mean that the submitted answer gets bigger but it is not very obvious and the page as a whole is still not that great to look at and not that intuitive. But here is where it starts to come into it’s own…..
When you hover over the answers given they show you how many people have replied with that answer as shown below:
I think that is kind of little bit nice but the real crowd pleaser is the export faciltiy……drum roll please…… It exports into Wordle or Tagxedo in one click. In other words, those replies can effectively provide all the graphical impact and usefulness that using word clouds bring to a lesson. This can be seen here from the AnswerGarden created above. Doesn’t it look lovely?
So, as an avid fan of wallwisher and more recently lino.it, is this better or worse than those tools? I think it is different. It is quicker; less about the multimedia representation of and design of content; more powerful as a starter and plenary tool; and with the word cloud extension, there is the further instant visualisation of answers i.e. of users’ responses. Let me know what you think about it and how you use it.