These devices, sometimes called clickers, are used for immediate engagement and assessment for a whole class. The instructor can use software to prepare questions to ask during class, or if needed, can instantly create a question during instruction to check for student understanding. One example of these devices are Promethean ActivExpressions. These devices look like cell phones or Blackberry phones, with a keyboard and a screen that displays the questions and answers. An ActivExpression has the capability to display multiple-choice, sorting, true/false, or text questions. In the classroom, each student is given a device that, depending on the context, is assigned a number or with the student’s name. The students answer on the device and the answers are aggregated in the software from a USB receiver and displayed in graph format for teacher and class use.
Other examples of these clickers include SMART Response PE and i>clicker.
This is a great technology to use in the classroom. The instructor can quickly see where each student is in understanding the content by asking the question “Do you understand this concept?” and having students answer yes or no. If some students answer no, the teacher knows immediately to go back and reteach the content.
These devices are also a great way to spark discussion by asking an agree/disagree question and asking students to respond from each side.
When devices are numbered (and named with each individual student), students answer anonymously and might feel more comfortable participating in class.
The downside to these clickers is that they are not cheap. A set of 32 ActivExpressions costs $2800. Although ActivExpressions are considered an accessory to the Promethean interactive whiteboard, a set can be purchased separately and used on any computer. There are other options, like using a student’s own mobile device. This can be done with the free website Socrative, as one example.