I know it’s been a long time, but I’m hoping to get back in the blogging groove. I have a list of blog topics in a google doc that I’m hoping will sustain a more regular blog presence. I’ve moved my site over to a new host. I’m redirecting automatically for now, but please update your bookmarks.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that we’ve been exploring clicker technology in class to promote class discussion (especially around controversial topics), predicting the results of a demo, etc. . We recently received a shipment of 60 clickers, and I was distraught over the packaging. Check it out. Each clicker was individually wrapped in the kind of packaging that leaves one’s fingers bruised and bloodied, and the amount of waste is pretty striking. Below is a pic of the packaging vs. what was inside.
We’re in conversations now with the vendor now to check into alternatives. They may be under the assumption that we’re like many schools where clickers are sold in the bookstore. Instead, we’ve purchased several departmental sets for sharing. The six teacher clickers came with a more reasonable amount of packaging, so it has to be possible to scale back on the waste. We’ve been very pleased with the iClicker brand, but if you decide to go this route, please join in and ask about alternative packaging before they ship.
Some things the iClickers don’t do that we’re trying to find solutions for:
1. Data Formatting – We have a couple of professors interested in analyzing data gathered in class with statistical packages like SPSS. The session data is stored in spreadsheets, but there’s a lot of manual cleanup needed before the stats are run. It shouldn’t be too hard to automate the clean-up process.
2. Limited Choices – A-E works fine for many questions, but if you’re asking students about presidential candidates, important political issues, etc.., 5 choices can be very limiting. We knew that going in, but it would be great if there were a simple alternative. I asked the tech guy at iClicker if they’ve explored hooking into devices with more buttons or allowing a double click to expand choices (like AA, BB, etc.). They haven’t done anything with this yet, but the code is open source, so I’m going to poke around and see what it would take to add this expanded choice mode.
3. Mapping Choices - The flexibility of the software is great. You can pose questions / scenarios in presentation software, ChemDraw, Google Earth, etc.. Because the question is captured as an image, you have to go back and map choice A to Obama, B to Clinton, C to Edwards, etc.. It’s okay if you’re just using the questions as a discussion starter but makes looking at trends in student opinions more difficult.