Friday, October 9, 2009


What’s all the buzz about iClickers? What ARE iClickers? There are those of you who are unfamiliar with this relatively new technology. Personally, I have had the opportunity to utilize this resource while enrolled in my Chemistry, Astronomy, and Biomedical Science courses at Michigan State University.

An iClicker is an Audience Response System (ARS), or sometimes called a Personal Response System (PRS). For the purpose of simplicity, I’m going to simply refer to it as an iClicker. An iClicker is a remote control that functions as a technological interaction tool. Individuals in a large group or audience have their own iClicker/remote control which communicates with a computer via receivers that are located around the room. What happens is this…a professor, teacher, speaker, etc. poses a mulitple-choice question/poll which is posted for the entire audience to view. The audience is then responsible for answering that question via their iClickers. The audience chooses their answer, either A, B, C, etc., points their iClicker at a receiver located at around the room, pushes a button (A, B, C, etc.), and their answer is then sent to a main computer. After a certain amount of time, the poll/question is closed and the computer then tabulates the audience members’ answers and displays the results, often, instantaneously via a bar graph or percentages. In many situations, a professor or teacher will utilize this technology as a means to track participation in their classroom. In settings such as those, each audience member should have submitted their iClicker’s serial number into the control computer’s database. This enables the individuals’ answers to be identified and evaluated at a later date. There are many different uses for iClickers; however, it typically appears to to be utilized as a way for students to instantaneously provide feedback, and answer questions posed by their instructors.

As I’ve said before, in a previous post, there are positives and negatives of virtually ALL aspects of innovative technologies, and iClickers have pros and cons too.

1. Instant access to student knowledge
2. Provides immediate feedback to students
3. Encourages participation in ALL students, including the shy ones
4. Keeps students’ attention
5. Provides anonymity

1. Students may forget to bring them to class
2. Costly
3. Not necessarily useful in small classes
4. May be difficult to grasp by the non-technological savvy individual

As a future teacher, I would unquestionably enjoy the opportunity to utilize iClickers in my classroom; however, I do believe the issue of cost would be a detriment. If there were a way to provide this technology to my class at a minimal cost, I would! Incorporating iClickers into a daily lesson plan could be very beneficial. For example, if I were teaching a social studies lesson on a controversial topic, the class would be more apt to participate in a discussion if their opinions remained anonymous.

I have one last comment to add. After reading the TPACK article for CEP 416, I realized how important it is to consider the fact that true technology integration requires the understanding and negotiating of the relationships between a teacher’s knowledge of teaching, of their lesson content, and of the advantages and disadvantes of technology in a classroom. When considering these three componants and iClickers, I realized how teaching a lesson would change with the addition of a new technology. iClickers would obviously cause a shift in your teaching methods as well as significantly alter the way in which you and your students interact. Just something to consider…

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