Learner-Shaped Technology

January 22, 2007

Upstate Schools Consortium Presentation and Clickers

Filed under: clickers,collaborate,education,general,technology — Mike W @ 10:28 am

On Friday I presented at a meeting of the Upstate Schools Consortium which met at Furman University. I got to meet with a great group of talented and enthusiastic K-12 educators from across the upstate. It was a lot of fun!


I talked about our recent and early investigation into clicker technology. We’re piloting these in a handful of classrooms to determine if they’re a good fit and developing best practices. I’ve reviewed a good bit of the research, and it seems like clickers are most effective when they are used to support a constructivist learning environment which makes good sense. A great bibliography of the research is available from Vanderbilt University. If the technology is only going to be used to deliver fairly low-level content questions and not going to be used to modify instruction or engage the student, then I’m guessing we’ll find it’s not worth the investment. I’ve used them in several sessions and feel my initial skepticism waning.

Here’s a link to the question report that was generated from our discussion. Just click on the session summary to see the responses. Each session is actually split in two, so session 1 and 2 are the interaction with the first group and so on. For some reason, the second half of the session with the last group wasn’t recorded.

I split the sessions because there seems to be a bug in iClicker (at least on my machine) where if you add to an existing session, rather than starting a new one, the screen capture breaks.

* The question about Saddam Hussein was to start a very mini discussion about potential advantages of the anonymity that the clickers provide. I wish we had more time to discuss.

* The question about the gorilla required some intro explanation not on the slide. I described the Harvard study in which folks were asked to count the number of basketball passes between two individuals. During the video a woman with an umbrella or a person in a gorilla suit walks through the middle of the scene. 54% of participants reported never seeing the gorilla, so I asked if this intense focus would be a plus or minus in a life or death survival situation. In sessions where there was time, they discussed and recast their votes (Mazur-type of model with clickers).

* The Google Earth Question revolved around the spread of avian flu and asked participants to predict where the early outbreaks occurred (answer C: Southern Asia). The circled regions aren’t visible in the iClicker report, but were visible to participants.

* Oh yeah, the answer to the state insect question is A (Carolina Mantid). This was pretty obscure, but most folks knew it! I sure didn’t. I was hoping to demonstrate that simple content questions weren’t as fun or interactive as the gorilla / discussion type, but this generated a good bit of buzz as well (pun intended ;-)).

I’ll be updating the blog with our iClicker pilot experience. Here’s a link to the session handout. Please comment with your clicker experiences and thoughts in the comments here. We didn’t have enough time to talk, so it would be fun to continue the discussion here.

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