Using "clickers" in the classroom
Special Note for Fall 2012
A new version of TurningPoint software was released on August 1, 2012. Because this was so late in the summer, and after the promised delivery date of the software, we decided not to cause confusion by updating classroom computers at the last minute. In addition, this latest version still does not offer PowerPoint integration on Macs, although this is promised in a late-fall update.
- Users familiar with the "old" TurningPoint
- It would be simplest if you just keep using the older software for now.
- Users new to TurningPoint
- There's no need to learn the old software and then have to learn the new software in 6 months or so, so I would recommend using the new software, which we can provide to you on a new receiver-plus-storage USB stick that you can take with you to the classroom. Just contact Elizabeth Scheyder (scheydec@sas) to get one.
- User Guides for the new software are at http://www.turningtechnologies.com/responsesystemsupport/producttraining/training_documents.cfm
- Instructions for using clickers in "Registered" mode are available for students and for instructors.
- All users
- When you create your questions, you should use whichever version of the software you plan to use in the classroom. "Legacy" software will remain available on the TurningTechnologies.com download page.
- The new version of the software combines TurningPoint and TurningPoint Anywhere into one application. Other than that, everything else will look familiar.
- Because we can only have one Blackboard integration running at a time, we have left the legacy version installed. We have different instructions for students instructors if they want to use the new version of the software and integrate it with Blackboard. Let Elizabeth know if you want this.
Since the two versions are very similar, everything else about them works the same way as is described on this website. Clickers work with either version, too.
- 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 3. software on the computer which 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 RF 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 is now offering a product called "ResponseWare", which allows students to respond using a laptop or any web-capable smartphone. This can be used in a mixed environment, with some students using clickers and others using laptops/phones. We have not deployed this yet, but if you would like to do a pilot test of this application, please contact us.
- The Bookstore will sell (and rent) the TurningPoint ResponseCard RF 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 email@example.com 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 will offer 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 Blackboard's gradebook
- You have the option of tracking individual student responses, and recording them in the Blackboard 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 Tools area of your Blackboard site, just go to the Control Panel area and then to Customization --> Tool Availability and make sure that "Registration Block" is checked. See this short video for details.
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.)
- Before class, the instructor uses the free TurningPoint software to create questions in PowerPoint.
- This software adds buttons to the PowerPoint menus so that you can add questions to slides.
- Software for Windows or Mac can be downloaded from http://www.turningtechnologies.com/groupresponsesystemsupport/downloads.cfm to your office or home computer as many times as you would like, so you can build question slides wherever it's convenient for you to work.
- 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. 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 manuals are available on the TurningTechnologies website, and we'll be happy to assist you in learning to use the software.
- This software adds buttons to the PowerPoint menus so that you can add questions to slides.
- In class, the instructor has the USB receiver plugged into the classroom computer or laptop, and then runs the PowerPoint presentation from that computer.
- When you reach a slide with a question on it, 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 PowerPoint
- You can analyze the results in Excel if you'd like to look at the details
- You can upload the results to Blackboard's 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 is necessary to run the TurningPoint software.
- What about the systems that publishers offer bundled with text books?
- We use the ResponseCard RF 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 install free software on the computer that you will use to build questions.
The software can be downloaded from http://www.turningtechnologies.com/groupresponsesystemsupport/downloads.cfm
- If you use Microsoft Windows, please download TurningPoint 4.2.3 (English Only)
- If you use a Mac and have Office 2004 (and old version), please download TurningPoint - Mac/Office 2004 Only
- If you have a newer version of Office on a Mac, please download TurningPoint AnyWhere for Mac, although this is not as good a program. (Contact us for details)
- 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.
- SAS Computing will provide the receiver that you'll need in the classroom, and will install the software on the classroom computer. (It's already installed on SAS Central Pool Classrooms, but it's best to double-check anyway.)
- If you prefer, you can use your own laptop in the classroom, 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 TurningPoint Anywhere software, which can also be downloaded at no cost
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.