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Classrooms Turning on to Clickers

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Modern technology is influencing the classrooms of America in exciting new ways. One of those is the use of the clicker.

A large handful of schools have spent large sums of money on audience response systems, in order to boost student participation in lectures. This kind of system typically gives each student an electronic input device (or clicker) and then asks the students questions. The students press buttons on their clickers, sending data wirelessly to a central computer, which tallies up the responses. Some simple systems can provide only minimal reports on general data. Other systems can identify for teachers which students gave which answers for which questions.

School districts in Los Angeles, New York City, St. Paul, and other large cities have bought in to the concept—literally. The City of Los Angeles school district, in particular, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past three years on clicker systems. The results have been positive, school officials say, noting that students who use clickers tend to be more engaged in their lessons than they otherwise would have been.

Naturally, clickers can be used for quizzes and class games. Some schools have adapted the systems to include an animated reward system for students who do well on their electronic responses.

A growing number of companies provide these audience response systems. As can be expected, the types and functionality of the devices varies.

One of the most well-known companies is Qwizdom, which feature silver-and-red clickers that students can easily hold in their hands. (Indeed, one common feature of these clickers is that they are all easy to hold and use.)

Another kind of clicker uses radio frequencies to transmit data from clicker to central computer. An example of that kind of technology is the classroom performance system manufactured by eInstruction. This CPS is used at prominent universities in the U.S.

Also to be found at prominent American universities is Turning Point, a student response system exemplified at Classroom Clickers.

Graphics courtesy of ClipArt.com

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