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at Bucks

Clickers are in the Building!

I’ve taught three classes with clickers now, and I can’t get over their simplicity and effectiveness. Also known as Classroom Response Systems, clickers are small devices similar to the remote control for your TV (but even smaller) that students use to answer questions. Think of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” on TV: one of the “Lifelines” available to contestants is a poll of the audience. This is the idea behind the clickers. Students respond to a question posted in a MS PowerPoint slide. Clicker functionality is easily integrated into MS PowerPoint presentations by an add-on piece of technology from Turning Technologies, the clicker manufacturer. With just an extra part added to MS PowerPoint and some software and a USB receiver plugged into the teacher’s station, clickable slides can be created in minutes. These can be true/false, yes/no, or multiple choice. Students enjoy pushing the buttons to answer the questions, but the engagement goes deeper because they then get to see how their classmates voted. Teachers find value in clickers because they can stretch their Agile Teaching muscles by launching into discussions from the results and seeing what students comprehend.
In the library we are intrigued by this teaching tool for information literacy sessions. We are keeping the process blissfully anonymous although the capability exists to attach students’ names to the clicker devices for assessment purposes. We want to know rather how the students think as a group and how much they understand. We think they are more honest because of the anonymity, and by the giggles I hear while they are answering my questions I’m sure they appreciate the new technology. I’ve only inserted less than ten clicker slides into my hour-long classes, and I think that’s a good amount. (In the three classes I’ve taught so far, 96%, 74% and 100% of the students polled do, in fact, like the clickers!)

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