This is the second post in a three part series on Using a Student Response System in the classroom
- Last time, we looked at using twitter in the classroom
- Today, we’re looking at using clickers as a Student Response System (S), and
- Next time, we’ll look at Poll Everywhere as an online way to get responses from your students in real time.
- This 3 part series was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking with a 98% word recognition accuracy.
Student Response System: Clickers in the classroom
I really like the idea of using clickers in the classroom. (This article is based on using a class set of eInstruction clickers.)
- Clickers are little tiny devices that look like cell phones. Very cool for K-8 classes where cell phones are often not allowed at school / in the classroom.
- They let students vote in their responses – you can set up multiple-choice questions or short answer questions and quickly look at the results in real time.
- There is also a setting to enable anonymous mode which means that student responses are not tracked – in case you want more honest answers for sensitive questions. Normally, you know which students are using which clickers, which means that you can collect assessment data from your clickers.
Even though I have access to a class set of clickers, I find I rarely use them. (Maybe, I really need to start using them more again.)
- Part of the problem is the set up. Sometimes the proprietary software lags or the Bluetooth dongle hangs and doesn’t detect the clickers or work as fast as I would’ve would like it to.
- Another problem with the clickers is maintenance. Two of the 30 clickers aren’t working and I simply haven’t found the time to unscrew the case and change the batteries to see if that fixes the problem. (I think one of the clickers is actually broken, so I need to call the manufacturer.)
- Now that I think about it, the final problem for me is creating the assessment from any location that I want to. The world is becoming cloud-based, and I’m getting used to the idea of being able to access my files from anywhere – school, home, on the go. The clickers that we have used proprietary software and the software works best when you’re student files are saved on your computer’s hard drive (as opposed to the network drive.) Even though I can use dropbox to sync these clicker files between my different computers, sometimes I find it still a hassle because I’m pretty sure the dropbox syncing is slowing down the clickers software.
Some grade 7 and grade 8 students have a surprisingly difficult time texting in paragraph answers using the clickers. Even though we often think of this generation as a texting, tech savvy generation, not all students have a cell phone and so texting in short answers on the clickers may be a steep learning curve for some.
Having said all of that, the clickers are great.
- Each student is assigned a clicker, so I know exactly how they are responding for assessment purposes. There’s no guesswork (and I don’t have to ask my students to be honest and tell me who they are, like I do with Poll Everywhere)
- I like how I can display pretty graphs right away for the students on the data projector. I can look at review questions, instantly see which questions that students don’t understand, and revisit those concepts in class right away.
- I like how the clickers have a teacher paced mode and a student paced mode. Teacher paced mode lets you lead students question by question. Student paced mode lets you give students the question page and they can work their way through the assessment on their own – entering one answer will automatically move the student to the next question.
- I like how each student has their own clicker. Clickers are cheaper than netbooks or laptops and I don’t have to depend on students bringing in their own technology (i.e. cell phones) like I do with Poll Everywhere. Unlike netbooks which can take forever to connect to the wireless network, clickers are good to go in about 10 seconds.
Stay tuned. Next time, we’ll look at Poll Everywhere which is marketing itself as a free Student Response System (because you don’t have to use clickers to vote in your answer. You use your own technology (i.e. your cell phone or laptop) to text or vote in your response online.