Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Student Response Systems (Clickers)

Chris received a bit of good news a few weeks ago - she had won a grant! The prize included a class set (32) of "clickers". The clickers are a Student Response System (SRS) where each student gets their own little receiver which allows them to vote for any question the teacher asks. While there are many different companies which provide these systems, the company that was part of the grant was called Turning Technologies. The product name is ResponseCard RF (Radio Frequency) and there is some info about this particular model here.We just opened the box today and I wanted to post some initial information. First off, when we opened the box we found a carrying case.

Inside there was a CD, 32 clickers, and some paperwork.

Each one of the response systems is numbered (as well as the case for easy placement).

Here is a closer picture of the "clickers" themselves (sorry it is a little blurry, I was borrowing a camera).

There are several different options for the "clickers" and this is one of the basic models (there is no LCD screen or ability to put in short answer responses); but, they are still a really cool technology and did I mention that Chris won them?! :-)
Before you can begin with the software, you have to put all of the "clickers" on the same frequency so the computer will "see" the responses. To do this you have to click the Ch button in the bottom left and then hit the channel you want to put them on (I chose 01). Then just push the channel button again. The small green light on the SRS will light solid green for a few seconds and you are good to go. You have to put all of the clickers in the same set on the same channel so I repeated this step 32 times! My guess is that if you had several class sets of clickers they could each be used in different rooms as long as they were all set up on different channels.
After that, I had to download the Turning Point software (TurningPoint 4.2.2 as of this writing) from the web and install it on the computer. It basically is a specific version of PowerPoint which adds a special toolbar and integrates the questions/answer portion of the SRS into PowerPoint. To use the software, you put the question at the top, put the answers (True/False, Multiple Choice) in the middle and then you can begin the show. When you put up the question there is a little box that appears in the top right hand corner of the screen and lets you know that polling is open. It will count up for each answer that is pushed on the clicker (you can only answer once). When you have all the answers accounted for you can click your mouse (like you were going to the next slide) and a graph will appear showing the answers chosen.
There is also another software download (the same link as above) called TurningPoint Anywhere 2.2 which allows you to just put up the polling software on the computer screen with nothing else. You can just ask the question verbally (or put it up on the screen in another program besides PowerPoint) and have the students answer with the clickers. You then can close the polling box and the results will appear on the screen (in a graph form). I can see easy integration with Brain Pop quizzes through this software. The whole class can now answer the question before we show the answer and Chris can see how many of the whole class knows the answer!
There are other pieces of software to download and use and there are a lot more options that we haven't gotten into yet. I will continue to post updates about the clickers the more that we use them. I know that Chris is interested in using in the classroom so I am sure we will be learning more soon!

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