Clicking in class

| November 17, 2010

First-year students at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, found that clickers – electronic hand-held devices no bigger than a slim calculator – were on their required stationery lists at the start of this academic year.

They join two million other college peers across the USA required to have clickers with them at all times. The high-tech tools are used for classroom tests, to take registers, poll student opinion and generate class discussion.

The gadgets which cost between US$35 and US$40, also let teachers know who has understood lecture material. A simple question to this effect, for example, results in five multiplechoice options. The class commences clicking, while a small counter at the top of a screen in the front of the class tallies the number of responses and a stopwatch measures the time.

Within seconds, a transmitter in the teacher’s computer collects the signals by radio frequency and spits out the results. Students are required to register their clicker online, so that responses can be traced. Clickers are proving popular in generating class discussion following quick polls. Says one professor, “Clickers allow me to use pseudo-Socratic dialogue. I ask students something, and they are pushed to respond. It also gives the usually silent majority a voice.

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Category: e-Education, Summer 2010

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