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Review: TurningPoint

turningTurningPoint is an interesting solution for organizations that need to gauge constituent response.  In terms of non-profits, it is mainly geared toward educational institution, but other applications could certainly be devised as the nonprofit world becomes more high-tech.  Basically, the system integrates with PowerPoint in order to poll audience members.  This has a variety of implications, and for educational purposes can allow teachers to gauge students’ comprehension throughout a lesson.  Additionally, the system can be used for test situations, potentially streamlining the testing/grading/feedback cycle to be more efficient.

The goal of the company, Turning Technologies, is to increase retention, engage participants, and gauge understanding through “response technology.”  The speaker uses intuitive polling technology that is integrated with PowerPoint and other programs to pose questions to the audience, members of which then respond either with handheld keypads or Internet-connected devices.  The results are instantly gathered and displayed for analysis.

In Use
During a presentation, the speaker asks interactive questions that are displayed on the screen.  Participants answer the questions with a handheld ResponseCard keypad, or through an app run on a variety of other devices such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc. that are connected to the Internet.  The results can be instantly displayed on the screen and can also be exported for further analysis.

There are a variety of situations where this technology could be employed.  As mentioned, it looks to be a really useful tool for teachers who can determine how well students are following along and comprehending a lecture.  Likewise, a presenter could use audience feedback to gauge an audience’s reception to the material and to augment parts of the presentation that warrant it.

Technology Employed
TurningPoint directly integrates with PowerPoint, polls with any application using a floating toolbar and offers self-paced testing.  Available in install and no-install versions for both PC and Mac, TurningPoint creates a versatile solution for assessment delivery and data collection in a variety of environments.  Software is available to download for free from the Turning Technologies’ website.

Key features include:

  •          Poll in Any Environment & Application - same user experience on PC and Mac
  •           PowerPoint for Mac 2011 Integration - native polling integration for Mac platforms
  •           One Download for PC or Mac - available in install and no-install versions
  •          Dashboard Interface - manage polling, participants, content, sessions and reports
  •          Robust HTML Content Editor - supports pictures, characters and question lists
  •          Create Content Once - use in all polling environments for easy implementation
  •          Participant List Editor - simplifies ability to create, import and export lists
  •          Session Data Manager - toggle views, see points, set benchmarks and scales
  •          Reporting Engine - customizable views, reports export to .CSV, .XLS and .PDF
  •          “On-Demand” Integrations - import LMS Participant Lists and “sync” session 

The PowerPoint polling integration is the most commonly utilized polling option.  Inserting interactive polling slides is as easy as inserting a new slide with simple point and click functionality.  Already-created presentations can also be adjusted to incorporate interactive slides, easing the administrative burden of training materials. In addition to pure polling, TurningPoint also offers advanced features such as anonymous mode, comparative links, demographic comparisons, priority ranking, competitions, conditional branching, moment-to-moment polling and much more to enhance learning environments.

To accommodate environments not using PowerPoint, TurningPoint also features an Anywhere polling application that provides polling with any Mac or PC application.  A floating toolbar allows you to poll with Keynote® presentations, Word documents, web pages, videos, PDFs and more.  The toolbar can lie over top of any application and be placed anywhere on screen.  Lastly, TurningPoint offers an advanced, self-paced functionality where polling can take place in the form of assessments, evaluations, and surveys that require participants to work at their own pace. 

Ease of Use, Configuration, and Deployment
TurningPoint is software is quite easy to use. Its intuitive interface allows customers to get up and running with little to no training.  The dashboard provides a simple interface for instant management of polling, participants, content, sessions, and reports.  Software is available to download for free from the Turning Technologies’ website. 

System requirements can be found on the company website.
Participants use handheld keypads called ResponseCards to answer interactive questions.  ResponseCards are credit card size devices that transmit responses via radio frequency to a receiver plugged into the USB port of the computer running the presentation.  The receiver is approximately the size of a thumb drive and requires no driver installation for simple plug-and-play functionality.  Each receiver supports up to 1,000 ResponseCards/participants.  For environments where multiple presentations would be running in close proximity, receivers offer over 80 different channels for simultaneous polling. 

In order to utilize web-based responding, Turning Technologies offers ResponseWare.  ResponseWare turns a participant’s web-enabled mobile device into a virtual ResponseCard. Participants are able to respond to polling questions using a Wi-Fi or data connection. ResponseWare allows alphanumeric entry via a cell phone style input or a QWERTY style keyboard. Questions and answer choices are displayed on the mobile device while polling is open. Participants can download ResponseWare for iPhone®, iPod touch®, iPad®, BlackBerry® smartphone or Android™ device to take advantage of the specific features and functionality available with the device.Turning Technologies offers a variety of ResponseWare licensing models to best meet different presentation needs and environments. In addition, ResponseWare can be used in mixed environments, either alongside traditional ResponseCards or separately.

Turning Technologies creates response systems proven to enhance meetings, trainings, and events with interactive presentations. Response technology allows speakers to ask questions and receive real-time participant feedback. 

TurningPoint polling software directly integrates with PowerPoint®, polls with any application using a floating toolbar, and offers self-paced testing. Participants respond with handheld keypads or any web-connected device.  Results are instantly displayed on screen and collected in detailed reports, and participant data can be tracked or polled anonymously to gather honest feedback. 

The system has been shown not only to collect valuable information, but also to increase retention, engage participants, and immediately assess understanding. Reports can be generated with customizable views, exported into several formats, and integrated with popular learning management systems.  Product offerings also include remote meeting capability with web-based responding and multi-site polling options.  The goal is to transform presentations into engaging, collaborative experiences that involve audiences in real dialogue instead of pure lecture. 


$1    Engages listeners and students 
Allows for meaningful evaluation of comprehension
Integrates with tools already on the market


$1     Requires hardware
Can be cost prohibitive
 Learning curve for organizations

My Opinion
I’m pretty excited about the potential applications for this kind of technology.  Allowing teachers to know in real time if they’re being understood seems like a truly useful implication, although implementing something like this in a classroom may be cost prohibitive.  Originally designed for businesses, the company is staying ahead of the curve by adapting with technology and expanding into new areas, such as education.  I can see this being used in presentations, industry conferences, and quite a few other places.

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