Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Are clickers worth the hassle?

I've spent most of the last 24 hrs wrestling with the software that goes with the Personal Response System (PRS) 'clickers' I have my students using in class. This is the third time I've assembled all the marks the students have earned for the answers they've given to the questions I've posed in class and posted the combined marks on WebCT. This time I think I've finally gotten it right. (Thank you, students, for your patience.)

The software isn't that bad, though it's a bit clumsy. Now I better understand how it works, it all seems quite straightforward. But getting myself to this point would have been easier if my university provided better support for instructors using PRS in their classes. The fuss I made about this last year produced some talk of a PRS Users Group, where we could help each other, but that seems to have been vaporware.

But I do think using clickers is worth the trouble. It enables me to push the students into doing 'active learning', rather than passively absorbing whatever I tell them. I really like to see the students talking with each other about what the answer should be.