I will be teaching general psychology to a large undergraduate class this Fall. I had planned on using the “Clicker” to encourage interaction with students (link to company that makes them, wikipedia page that describes them). They are essentially remote controls that allow the instructor to record votes from students. For example, I could present a multiple choice question to the class, have them vote with their clicker, and let them immediately see the results.
It appears that there is a debate raging as to how complex and multi-function these devices should be. I am on the side of ultra-simple, especially if they are used for quizzes or tests. The arguments for more complex devices seems hollow; tending towards, “they have to carry around another device,” to basically suggesting that users expect more functionality/complexity.
Some professors like Dubson endorse simple, straightforward devices that stick to multiple choice questions. Others embrace fancier models or newer applications for smart phones and laptops that allow students to query the professor by text or e-mail during the lecture or conduct discussion with classmates — without the cost of purchasing a clicker.
Those preferring simplicity say pared-down remotes reduce distractions in a multitasking world, while others say fighting the march to smart phones and digital tablets is a losing battle.
(post image from the New York Times)