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Clickers coming to a classroom near you


By Courtenay Griffin and Pamela Gill

To some, the word “clicker” may conjure up an image of a television remote control or a small noise-maker, neither of which has anything to do with teaching or learning. But in fact, clickers, or student response systems, have already become a widely-used tool in classrooms at Memorial.

Much like polling technology used in a game show, these wireless devices solicit student responses in class based on questions posed by the instructor. A receiver unit captures student responses and records the information in a database that can be analyzed and displayed in real time, or within a variety of reports that can be printed.

Early in December, faculty members from Memorial’s St. John’s campus, Marine Institute, and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook gave demonstration sessions on the technology to interested faculty and staff. The aim is to increase awareness about clickers and how they can be used as both a teaching aid and as a way to enhance student learning.

Dr. Travis Fridgen, assistant professor with the Department of Chemistry, is an advocate of the technology and was part of a panel that provided the demonstration.

“Clickers allow me to engage all of my students in large class and it refreshes them during the lecture,” said Dr. Fridgen. “Not only do they help with student-teacher interaction, but they let students interact and learn from each other. I can walk around my classroom and students are talking about chemistry. What more can you ask for?”

Ed Andrews, associate professor of Grenfell’s Division of Science, also provided a demonstration at Grenfell and is currently using clickers as a pilot in his own class. He said he enjoys the immediate feedback from students’ responses to questions.

“By using clickers, all students get to participate so the classroom becomes more of an interactive experience,” Prof. Andrews said. “Once students respond to a question the results are immediate, which provides the opportunity for discussion and allows instructors to gauge students’ understanding of course material in real time.”

The clicker demonstrations were held as part of an initiative to select a standard clicker product for classroom use across all campuses of Memorial University. The initiative is being driven by the Student Response System Committee, whose mandate is to recommend a clicker product based on feedback from Memorial’s faculty and staff.

“The use of clickers on campus is growing rapidly,” said Robert Wells, associate director of Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT) and chair of the Student Response System Committee. “Our mandate is to establish a standard clicker product for teaching and learning at Memorial so we can ensure reduced student cost and a high quality of service and support.”

In selecting a standard product, faculty and staff are encouraged to complete an online survey and rate the most important criteria to consider in evaluating the systems available. To complete the survey, or learn more about this initiative, visit www.distance.mun.ca/clickers.php.

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