Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.


Using ‘clickers’

This looks interesting Students who use ‘clickers’ score better on physics tests. I’d like to do some in-class polling of students (probably for the large General Education paper I’m teaching next year) – to be able to elicit a poll on a subject in order to spark discussion or emphasise a point, and also to check whether key concepts have been picked up in a lecture.

Now one way to do it would be with ‘clicker’ technology, though that isn’t very widespread at all in NZ (but I stand to be corrected). The other way would be to take an ‘Idol’ approach – TXT/SMS messaging that’s collated automatically and the results put up on an internal web page or such. Different costs, I guess. The one-off cost of the clicker against the ‘micro’ costs of txt-ing. Given the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones in the NZ context, perhaps working towards the TXT approach would work.

In a class of 300-odd doing the non-anonymous survey of hands doesn’t really cut it.


  1. Mark

    Hiya Stephen,

    We purchased some clickers when I was SELF at Massey’s College of Ed. I’d be wary of the claims… based on two factors:

    1) Using clickers for humanities-style subjects requires a very different (arguably more time-consuming) setup, because questions need to be more qualitatively aligned, and
    2) To get the advertised results, you will need to use them consistently and copiously!

    We went down the PRS route (see, though I’d insist on wireless rather than IR if I were to do it again!

  2. Yeah, you’d definitely need to have worked out the pedagogy behind them well in advance and be structuring your teaching to take that into account. In my case I’d want to use it every now and then to add value to the class, and as one of a variety of tools.

    I’d also like the LMS announcements system to be able to send TXTs too. Announcements in the LMS, even sent out by email, have far less penetration that a short message sent to all the mobiles registered for students in a class. Even if the TXT message says something like: “New announcement for PTHEOXXX regarding assessment. Please check email or login to LMS to check it.”

    From my anecdotal experience this year, email is not an effective way of getting messages out to students if it needs to be read in a timely fashion. Mixed-mode delivery options would work better.

%d bloggers like this: