Canada.com makes me wish I was born later with a story about remote “clickers” in the classroom. Calgary-based SMART Technologies, makers of the SMART Board, introduced their Senteo interactive response system this year. With it, a teacher posts a question on a screen or projector, and students use their clickers to input answers that are wirelessly sent to the teacher’s computer, where results are displayed in real time. Answers can be multiple choice, true/false, or numeric. While the article makes the comparison to a game show, the system avoids encouraging competition by keeping individual responses anonymous, except to the teacher.
An interesting aspect of this technology is that it is being used with students from Grade 1 to University. Teachers report that the clickers increase classroom participation and give them instant feedback on the students’ understanding of lessons. There is little research on the effectiveness of clickers, though one study conducted by University of Waterloo professor Alan Webb concluded that there was no impact on student grades. Regardless, Webb still uses the devices, agreeing that they increase students’ attention to the class. At $1600+ for a classroom set, clickers won’t free teachers from marking quizzes anytime soon. However, with positive feedback from teachers, this technology may go a long way to level the experience between the hand-raising student at the front and the quiet student at the back.