Teaching Experiences: Making visible the Learning Progress using Polls


Delivering a course is a challenge during COVID times, where the only way to deliver it is by using virtual technologies such as Zoom, Teams, Classroom among others.

The challenges generated for using the virtual environment combined with some respectful considerations about privacy increase the complexity to assess the progress of the understanding together with the easy visual monitoring that was performed during an in-person session. The considerations about privacy are those related to not requiring to have the camera active all the session. Some students may not want to expose some personal environment or situation – this is a fair request from the student. The challenge described in this document focuses on how to make visible the progress of the learning in a simple, fast, and also respectful manner empowering the student to assess their own progress.


I have to deliver a session lasting three hours for 24 students in a late schedule (6:30 PM). You can imagine the energy of the students after a long day of work (most of them are part time students). The course was redesigned using ideas inspired in the Linkedin Learning Course “Learning How to Increase Learner Engagement” by Karl Kapp.


I try to test the next hypothesis: It is possible to actively assess the progress of the students by asking them about their progress for clearly defined goals using Zoom polls. I defined some constraints about this experiment:

  • Use Zoom polls since those are available in the toolset provided by the educational institution
  • The monitoring activity must not consume more than 5 minutes during the session
  • The investment to create the Zoom poll must not require more than 3 minutes for its creation
  • The privacy of the student must be respected – having the camera turned off

I decided to replicate the use of index cards to assess learning progress. But the only way to use that was using a tool since I can not ask them to turn on the camera and show the card for the learning progress. The reasons for using the polls were to foster the active interaction (which helped me to see if they were still active in the course) and also empower them to report if their progress. The pool is a clone of the index cards where students qualify their understanding with a simple scale:

Green – I understand 100% percent

Yellow – I understand 80% percent – some things are unclear

50% – I have several questions,

0% I did not get anything.

I created 4 anonymous polls that match the sections of the session. and I triggered them after finishing the session or the activity.

I expected that it was easy for them to check the progress, and also easy for me to see if they are still active in the session. I expected also some behavior trigger for covering gaps since I planned to show the results to them and I ask them again for questions to enable them to achieve a at least a 90% of understanding.


I was positively surprised with speed of the students answering the questions and also the following number and quality of questions as well as the energy of them to make them.

The next image shows an actual poll with results (in Spanish).

Future Exploration

I will continue doing it to see if they keep the same pace and energy in the sessions. I will also use the questions to improve the material of every section.