Using "clickers" in the classroom
Special Notes for Fall 2013
- Clickers now sync with Canvas!
- TurningPoint now fully supports Mac!
- What are clickers/audience response systems?
Audience response systems (which we call "clickers") include 3 components;
The hardware: a handset and receiver
1. small handsets that students use to vote on a multiple-choice survey or quiz question projected in the classrooms 2. a small wireless receiver attached to the classroom computer to collect the responses sent from student handsets. The receiver also includes storage for the students' responses and the
3. software that you will need to run. The software displays the question and tabulates student responses, displaying a histogram of the responses when voting has finished.
- Why do teachers use them?
- Teachers use these systems to informally assess students' knowledge of a topic before lecturing, to see whether students understand a point after it has been explained, and to ask survey or opinion questions. For a step-by-step method of using them for peer instruction, see the slideshow by Eric Mazur of Harvard at http://www.turning-talk.com/files/Mazur-PeerInstructionWebinar.pdf
- Links to a variety of articles on the pedagogy and applications of clicker systems are available at http://tags.library.upenn.edu/project/21851
What system is available at Penn?
- We have standardized on the ResponseCard NXT system from TurningPoint because it is a good, reliable product.
- Although several clicker systems on the market provide very similar functionality, by standardizing on just one, we have built experience and expertise in supporting it.
- NOTE: TurningPoint offers a product called "ResponseWare", which allows students to respond using a laptop or any web-capable smartphone. We pilot tested this, but found that cellphone coverage was spotty (at best) in many classrooms, so we decided not to pursue it.
- The Bookstore will sell (and rent) the TurningPoint ResponseCard NXT clickers in the textbook area, or the students can buy the clickers online
- You should let the Textbook Department at the Bookstore know that you'll be requiring Clickers for your class, so they can put them on the shelf with your textbook. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 898-4500.
- Your students can purchase or rent a clicker and their choice of a new or used textbook for your course.
- At the end of the Fall and Spring semesters, the Bookstore usually offers a buy-back program for the clickers, much as they do with used textbooks.
- If students prefer to purchase the clicker online, they can go to http://store.turningtechnologies.com and use the code Bg2Y get Penn's discounted pricing, or they can purchase them from Amazon.com, where even better prices are available sometimes.
- The TurningPoint system integrates with the Canvas gradebook
- You have the option of tracking individual student responses, and recording them in the Canvas gradebook. This allows you to use the clickers for in-class quizzes, or other applications where you want to know how individual students responded to your questions.
- Note: if you don't see the "TurningPoint Registration Tool" in the Modules area of your Canvas site, please contact us at clickers-help@sas so we can enable it for you.
How does it work? A typical scenario:
Install the Flash plugin to watch this video.
(More discussion among students takes place with every question, but we aren't able to show it here because we protect students' privacy.)
- Instructors request a Receiver and Instructor Kit
- If you don't have the black and white receiver, please go to http://www.turningtechnologies.com/instructorkit to request one.
- If there isn't enough time to get one from that link, ask us and we can loan you an instructor kit.
- Before class, the instructor uses the free TurningPoint 5 software to create questions.
- This software lets you create questions that will run in TurningPoint5 over any kind of content (PDF, YouTube, etc.), or adds buttons to your PowerPoint menus so that you can add questions to slides.
- We recommend that you go http://www.turningtechnologies.com/responsesystemsupport/downloads and make sure that you have the lastest version of the software on the USB drive, and continue to work from there, so that your software, question files, and response files are all in one place.
- Questions can be a variety of styles of multiple-choice, such as True/False, Yes/No/Abstain, Likert scales, or standard multiple choice questions with up to 10 possible answers, as well as short-answer, fill-in-the-blank or numeric answers. You can add a count-down timer and/or a correct answer indicator if you'd like.
- There's also a "user feedback" box on the information bar at the top of the screen when you're running a slide show. The counter in this box increments every time a student presses the question-mark button on the clicker, so you can tell if students are confused as you go along.
- The Weigle Information Commons Clickers Page also has templates for "Jeopardy" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" educational games using the clickers.
- Detailed guides and tutorials are available on the TurningTechnologies website, and we'll be happy to assist you in learning to use the software.
- In class, the instructor has the USB receiver plugged into the classroom computer or laptop, and then runs the TurningPoint software from that computer.
- When you reach a question, students send a response from their handsets. Only the last response a student enters counts.
- As the students vote, the receiver on classroom computer or laptop registers the responses and tabulates them.
- After the voting is finished, a slide comes up with a chart of the responses.
- You can also easily add another slide after that indicating the correct response (in this case, with an arrow).
- After class, you can export the results from TurningPoint
- You can analyze the results in Excel if you'd like to look at the details
- You can upload the results to the Canvas gradebook for your course
How can I get started using clickers in my class?
- How do I get started?
- Please contact clickers-help@sas if you think you'd like to use clickers in your class. We'll review your particular interests and recommend the best approach for your application. If you're planning to use the Mac installed in the classroom where you teach, please let us know and we'll get you Administrator access to that computer, which may be necessary to run the TurningPoint software.
- What about the systems that publishers offer bundled with text books?
- We use the ResponseCard NXT system from TurningPoint. Some publishers offer packages that include clickers - if you're considering one of these, please be sure that the clicker is this model we use. If you have any concerns about evaluating what the publisher is offering, please just contact us.
- Is there anything my students or I have to buy?
- In most cases, students will have to buy a handset at the bookstore or online (see above for details). Sometimes the clickers are shrink-wrapped with the textbook, but students can purchase clickers separately if you want to use a different book, or if they buy a used textbook.
- For small classes or very limited uses, we may be able to provide handsets that can be loaned to students for the duration of one or two class meetings.
- As the instructor, you'll need to have the free software stored on the receiver so you can build questions.
- Detailed guides and manuals for using the software are available on the TurningTechnologies website, but we'll be happy to assist you in learning to use it.
- Plug the receiver with the software into the classroom computer, and you're ready to go.
- If you prefer, you can use your own laptop in the classroom, and run the software and project the questions from there.
- What about using iPhones or other 'smartphones' instead of a clicker?
TurningTechnologies does offer software that runs on iPhones, Blackberries, and any laptop or mobile phone with a web browser. We are continuing to watch this option develop, but we haven't adopted it yet because of some concerns, including:
- Not all mobile phone carriers provide strong signal coverage in some Penn classrooms
- AirPennNet may not have enough wireless 'leases' in some buildings to allow every student in a large lecture hall to connect at the same time.
- Concerns about giving students an 'excuse' to be using a mobile phone during class
- What if I never use PowerPoint?
- If you want to learn to use PowerPoint, you can attend a free PowerPoint workshop in the Weigle Information Commons
- If PowerPoint is not typically used in your field, or you would rather use a different application to project your questions, you can use the Anywhere Polling, which is part of the regular software.
What do students and instructors think of the clickers?
- Response from students has generally been very positive. Students' survey responses indicate that they find the use of clickers engaging.
- Clicking toward a better education, a front-page article in the February 25, 2008, Daily Pennsylvanian, interviewed faculty and students about the use of clickers in SAS courses.
- In the February 26, 2010, Penn Almanac, Paul Heiney wrote a Talk about Teaching and Learning column entitled "Peer Instruction in Large Classes," which included his experience using clickers.
Is there somewhere I can try out the system?
- The Weigle Information Commons has a classroom set of 35 clickers for faculty use in the Van Pelt Dietrich Library Center.
- For more information, please check the WIC Clickers Page (http://wic.library.upenn.edu/multimedia/clickers/) or email us at clickers-help@sas
- The Library also offers hands-on Clickers with PowerPoint workshops from time to time - see this link for info
For more detailed instructions and resources to help instructors use clickers
Please send mail to clickers-help@sas if you'd like more information or a demonstration of this system.