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'Clickers' making noise in School of Education

The Activexpression learner response devices, or "clickers," have a large screen, an alphanumeric keypad like a cell phone, symbol entry buttons and eight hotkeys for multiple choice-type responses.

This summer, the School of Education acquired a set of Activexpression learner response devices, commonly called "clickers." The clickers are slightly larger than a cell phone, with a keypad and a number of specialized buttons. With the devices, an instructor can survey a class, get responses from the participants and present the response data in real time. Results can be anonymous, or if the instructor assigns the devices to individual members of the class, responses can be logged and entered into a spreadsheet or database grading system.

The Activexpression software allows instructors to pre-plan surveys or to create ad-hoc questions as they present. Responses can be multiple choice (including multiple correct responses to a single question), numeric or open text. Users can create Likert Scale surveys and questions where respondents need to arrange items into a correct order. All responses are sent using the handheld clickers in real-time. The keypad is identical to those on most cell phones, so students have little trouble entering text or numeric responses.

When all of the responses have been gathered, the data can be shown immediately in a variety of different graph styles. If the clickers are anonymously distributed, students won't know who gave what response, which encourages all students to participate.

The anonymous capability eliminates embarrassment about having a differing opinion or not knowing the correct answer. Every student in the class can respond and the instructor then knows immediately if the class understands the material.

The clickers could also be assigned to individual students and even named, so responses can be logged. With the Activexpression software, the instructor can store student responses over time and save them to a database for use in a gradebook program.

The School of Education acquired 32 handheld clickers. Activexpression software can be installed on a laptop, allowing instructors to prepare surveys before beginning a presentation.

School of Education faculty or staff interested in learning how to use the Activepression clickers in class should contact Frank Carey at fcarey@ku.edu for information about scheduling a training session.

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