I recently started blogging for The Active Class — a blog run by i>clicker, our local favorite brand of “clicker” or classroom response system. (Why do we like it? It’s simpler and easier to use than most systems, so easy to get a bunch of different faculty on board with it. And it has a lot of functions that make it easier to use with peer instruction, like the ability to sneak a peek at the histogram without showing it to your students).
My first post — Another trendy technical gadget!? is an introductory post on how clickers can help students learn. In other words, what makes them a useful tool, not just an expensive gadget.
Just what does the clicker buy you over a simple hand-raise?
It depends. If you’re using it to take attendance – not much. If you’re using it for quizzes, then it’s just easier for you, come grading time.
But the best use of clickers isn’t for attendance or quizzes – it’s to deeply engage your students in the subject. Can you do this in other ways? Sure! But with clickers, you get a lot of bang for your buck – more so, perhaps, than the pricey textbooks students lug from class to class, only to throw out next semester. As my colleague Mike Dubson told me, “I can think of no other device that accomplishes so many benefits in a single package.”