Are you looking for more class engagement? How would you like to prove to yourself and any of the people you have to answer to that your class is involved and engaged? If you are just finding out about this, your classroom world can drastically improve. The really awesome thing about companies that sell audience response technology is that some of them allow you a free trial period to test it out and show results to the people paying the extremely affordable bill (my research indicates you should be able to get a system for 30 student remotes and one receiver with a free software add-on that fits into your existing PowerPoint software for a little more than $1000.00 US!). I have participated with this technology at a couple of conferences I’ve been to in the past 5 years, and have been wanting to use them in almost every classroom I teach in. I have many times contemplated footing the bill myself to use in my work setting, but haven’t pulled the trigger (yet). It’s so hard for me to comprehensively explain the immediate value this would have in your classroom, from polling the students to find out who understands the material and who still needs to spend more time on it, to giving you feedback at the end of your training session. All of these results can be tracked and trended, proving that everyone was included and participating. I am a large advocate of purposefully considering inclusion where introverts and extroverts alike are on a more even playing field in where some people feel too shy to speak up or get involved in a class discussion.
[The following list is from Wikipedia – I truly recommend reading the wiki-article by following the link to the content at the bottom of this post]
Audience response offers many potential benefits to those who use it in group settings:
- Improve attentiveness
- Increase knowledge retention
- Poll anonymously
- Track individual responses
- Display polling results immediately
- Create an interactive and fun learning environment
- Confirm audience understanding of key points immediately
- Gather data for reporting and analysis
What does the research say about clickers?
You will find in the Wiki-article where a few colleges testes out the technology and a very high percentage of users felt it added engagement into the classroom, and a very low percentage felt indifferent. Nobody said it was a bad thing for the learning environment.
So, who should pay for the gear?
Some colleges are charging the students to buy their own remotes and ensure they bring them to class. I don’t think it’s fair to force that on the student as a requirement (I think it should be part of every classroom), but it tells me that colleges are seeing value in these systems. I believe I understand the reasoning, though: Students can be given a unique identifying serial number to use from class to class, and if they own it, they will care more about taking care of it. This of course brings about another use of technology- what about smart phones as remotes in the classroom using twitter or some other methodology? Some receivers are already set up to take a signal from a smartphone. This is a good argument if your classroom has great signal from all providers, and if all of your students can afford smartphones – in today’s world this may be unlikely, but maybe in a few years.
Where should I follow up if I’m interested?
One of my favorite companies that supports in class clickers, which they call “response technology,” is Turning Technologies.
A really helpful salesperson there sent me the following to add to this post:
“Turning Technologies develops leading assessment delivery and data collection solutions for learning environments. Our response technology not only creates interactive presentations, but is proven to enhance effective instruction, increase retention, engage participants, and immediately assess understanding. Turning has expanded its portfolio of products to include data collection systems that securely transfer digital data for various assessment, testing and certification programs.
Mission: Our mission is to consistently and frequently hear from our customers that our ideas and solutions have become the industry’s most powerful, easy to use, seamlessly integrated group response, presentation and learning tools available on the market today. Our commitment to our customers is to focus our relentless determination and passion into actions that produce significant advancements in our current offering.”