Game show audiences and Minot State University students have something in common. Both are using a technology called "personal response systems."
Mark Timbrook, technology and design specialist in the Office of Instructional Technology at MSU, said people have seen them in use but often don't know it when game show hosts ask people in the audience which contestant they want to win. Members of the audience punch in their answers and the percentage who vote for each contestant appears on a larger screen. College professors put the technology to similar use when they ask students to respond to a question during a classroom discussion.
Timbrook said the Personal Response System Interwrite RF clickers are about the same size as a television remote. They come equipped with keypads and screens. They transmit on radio frequency and allow for fewer interruptions through physical barriers than infrared clickers, according to a press release issued by MSU.
"The clickers have been a desired technology due to their ability, when properly used, to engage students,
especially in larger classroms," Timbrook said. "They also give shy or reserved students a medium to participate without risks."
The clickers are in use in the psychology, education, and nursing departments, Timbrook said. The business and music departments are attempting to acquire the technology. Timbrook said the clickers were used by the psychology and education departments last year, but are new to the College of Nursing this year. He said a simplified version of the technology is frequently used in elementary and high schools.
Professors can use the technology in a variety of ways. They might ask students to answer a multiple choice question. The percentage of students who picked a particular answer will appear on the screen, though not which student answered which question. Students can also use the clicker to type in an answer to a specific question.
The clickers can be used to ensure students understand content, create group discussion, capture group data and conduct assessments and attendance, according to a press release issued by the university. The clickers are also used at conferences at the university.
"I've found that all students like the clickers," said Shirley Cole-Harding, professor of psychology at MSU, in the press release. "It's an opportunity for them to test their knowledge. Also, it gives the professor an opportunity to see what proportion of the class understands certain concepts. By asking why students gave wrong answers, we can clarify misunderstandings."
Each department owns the clickers and hands them out when needed. If usage increases, the university might consider asking students to purchase their own clickers.