Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clicker Article

I'm going to get back to reading articles on various library issues, and I will share the interesting stuff I get out of them (since that's usually only tidbits anyway). For our instruction meeting today, we had to read "A clicker for your thoughts: Technology for active learning" by Hoffman and Goodwin.

The first half of the article is an overview, but the second half is one of the more interesting articles I have read about clickers with some very practical points. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Test out the clickers on faculty. We have several classes with faculty at the beginning of the year. This serves two purposes, you get to test it on a more patient and smaller audience, plus faculty around here like toys, which turns into an advertisement of why they would want to bring their students into the library.
  • Use the clickers to assess their previous knowledge and past experiences.
  • They can be particularly useful for Freshman Composition. You can use them to ensure students understand basic concepts and services (i.e. review questions after each section), and create a more interactive session.
  • They can be used to start conversations by discussing results of the class poll. Follow the clicker questions up with open-ended questions they can discuss in groups.
  • Use them to ask opinion questions. Everyone likes to make their opinion heard, though they don't necessarily want to raise their hand in front of the class cold turkey.
  • Use "other" as a choice when appropriate. They can then discuss the "others" if many of the students selected that option.
  • It is important to carefully identify the learning objectives first, and carefully craft the clicker questions around those objectives so that the clickers are more than fancy toys.
  • Use the countdown feature of the software to keep students on track and make it more game-like.
  • The authors want to explore using clickers to mimic game shows like Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I'm not sure how this works, perhaps the clickers will let you know who clicked first??? I do Jeopardy fairly often, and determining who came in first is always difficult.
  • You can divide a class into groups, give each group a clicker and a computer. Give the group a problem, then have them answer with the clicker in a reasonable amount of time (using the countdown click if necessary). The software can count how many right answers each team got, so prizes can be awarded at the end. They can follow-up these questions with how they got the right answers and what resources they used/discovered.

We just bought clickers and I haven't used them yet. But I want to use them in a lot of the classes I teach next semester. This article has given me more specific ideas of how to use them effectively.

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