1. What are clickers?
Classroom clickers, also referred to as classroom response systems, audience response systems, or student response systems, consist of hardware and software that aid in teaching events. Teaching events are supported by a combination of hardware and software, often comprising a battery-powered handheld device with multiple buttons (single/multiple choice, true/false, etc) that connects to a base station.
The simplest method of using a clicker in class is as below:
- The teacher presents a question verbally, or through the interactive flat panel with a single/multiple-choice or yes/no format.
- Students use their classroom clickers to choose their answers in mind.
- The responses are transmitted to the base station, and the software compiles the data, displaying it as a graph or bar chart through the interactive flat panel for the entire class to review.
Classroom clickers for the classroom increase student engagement, attract their attention during class periods and stimulate discussions. Teachers can know the feedback well into students’ comprehension of study content and adjust their teaching method and content based on the results.
Moreover, students can know their learning progress and performance well when compared to others. By using clickers, introverted students who might hesitate to raise their hand can actively and anonymously participate in discussions. This fosters an inclusive environment where students feel more comfortable, eliminating concerns about embarrassment if they answer incorrectly, and ultimately encouraging active participation beyond just the eager front row of the class.
For the past two decades, clickers have been used in classrooms worldwide. The most advanced mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and Chromebook. From now on, some clickers even enable students to compose sentence-long answers or use touchscreens to pinpoint items on a map or diagram.
2. Classroom clickers or classroom response systems?
Classroom clickers for classrooms are known by various names, often referred to as classroom response systems (CRS) or audience response systems. However, such a name may regard students as a passive role.
Another name used for clickers is “audience response systems,” commonly used for corporate training. Yet, it can lead to confusion as it is also the name of a specific brand. For the sake of this guide, we will simply use the term “clickers.” Nevertheless, modern clickers can also encompass mobile devices, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
3. Types of clickers
3.1. Infrared classroom clickers
The design principle of the clicker is like a TV remote control that requires the handle clicker a short distance from the base station. These clickers work effectively in smaller classrooms with fewer students, where the signal can easily connect to the receiver. However, in larger classes, where not every student has a direct line of sight to the receiver’s location as set by the teacher, they might pose a challenge. Moreover, infrared clickers only allow one-way communication, meaning teachers can view student responses, but students cannot confirm if their responses are recorded.
Consider this type of clicker akin to how you control a battery-operated RC helicopter or drone. Utilizing radio frequency, the clicker system allows for two-way communication between instructors and students, making it suitable for larger classrooms with more students. However, these clickers tend to be pricier and may experience interference from nearby electronic devices operating on the same radio frequency. In classrooms where various technology devices operate on radio frequencies—common among students and within the school—using radio clickers can present challenges.
3.3. Phone-based clicker apps
The latest advancement in classroom response clickers involves utilizing students’ mobile devices as the clicker to answer the question. This approach allows students to use their existing hardware, with no need for additional costs. However, it does require that every student in the class possesses a device to participate when the teacher poses a question. While not all students may have smartphones, they should have access to tablets, and laptops, which can all serve as a student response system for submitting answers to classroom polls or multiple-choice questions.
Phone-based clicker apps function in real-time, utilizing the school’s Wi-Fi network. To handle multiple simultaneous connections from active students submitting their responses, a great network is necessary, particularly if other classrooms are using clickers simultaneously.
4. How to teach with clickers
4.1. Deploy your class with clickers
To begin using traditional classroom clickers, you should install a software system on the classroom computer to manage clicker inputs. Next, connect a base station, which can be either infrared or radio frequency, to the same computer to receive the responses of the clicker.
Compared to personal mobile phones, students will need to purchase a clicker, the price of classroom clickers varies, depending on model selection.
During class, when the teacher presents a question and students answer the question through classroom clickers, the answers are transmitted to the base station, and the software calculates and displays the results through the interactive flat panel. The results remain anonymous, but the teacher can identify which student provided each answer by tracking the response to the serial number of the specific clicker. Having a second screen deployed and connected to the computer is helpful for presenting the results to all students for review. Since many lecture halls already have screens of some kind, implementation is easy.
4.2. Use clickers for attendance
One of the simplest ways to utilize clickers in the classroom is for attendance tracking. The teacher can inquire, “Are you here?” and students present can click “yes” to feedback.
Using hardware clickers, the teacher can determine attendance through specific serial numbers for each clicker. If the clickers are registered to student names, the option to view them while keeping the data anonymous to the rest of the class may be available.
Professors and TAs can identify students who are frequently absent. All data from clickers can provide a more comprehensive view of student attendance and participation.
Classroom clickers are especially valuable for taking attendance in large classes, such as freshman courses, where manual logging of attendance might be challenging. To keep students engaged and attentive, consider exploring creative methods to gauge attendance:
- Ask questions outside the attendance but still give insight into who’s present.
- Utilize clicker quizzes or assess student knowledge during each class session.
- Encourage students to respond to a discussion thread with drawings or written responses related to conversation prompts.
4.3. Clickers for formative assessment
Regarding question-asking, the application of clickers in the classroom is to assess students’ retention of facts and concepts covered in previous classes. A clicker quiz enables teachers to gauge this understanding before proceeding and track improvements in student comprehension.
With this method, teachers can get real-time feedback on students’ learning progress, rather than having to wait until examination time or assignment submissions.
4.3.Cliker for active learning of the student
Classroom clickers offer more than just the purpose of testing students; they can serve as valuable tools for igniting discussions and pushing active learning by breaking away from the conventional course. By posing a question, allowing students a minute to contemplate their responses before submitting them, and presenting the results, clickers facilitate engaging discussions among students, either with a neighbor or in small groups. This approach encourages active participation and enhances the overall learning experience.
5. Challenges with clickers
Despite its advantages, the integration of clickers in education has certain challenges. First and foremost, the educational institution and/or professor must approve their use and consider any associated implementation costs. Adequate preparation is essential to adopt clickers, whether it involves acquiring the necessary technology or ensuring sufficient Wi-Fi for phone-based clicker apps. Additionally, investing time in learning how to use the system effectively is crucial.
6. The future of clickers
While handheld clickers have been in use for a couple of decades, the future now revolves around mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Although not every student may possess all three types of devices, it is likely that each student will have at least one of them which can be utilized as their clicker through a suitable app. Moreover, most students already bring at least one of these devices to class regularly, with cell phones being almost ubiquitous.
As a result, deploying clickers will become more easy and cost-effective in the future.
7. How to buy clickers
If you want to buy clickers for the classroom, I recommend Kyin classroom clickers, with 2.4 GHz RF technology, that support Single choice/Multiple choice/Judgement/Rush answer, etc. Access Student performance easily.