Clickers!

We’re starting the semester with a bang- we got a batch of clickers in today to try out! Megan Dobro, new NS faculty, used them with good results in her previous position at Cal Tech. This semester she’s teaching a course on HIV/AIDS and plans to use them in class.

Clickers are small hand-held devices that you hand out to each student in class. They use it to answer questions posed by the instructor, or enter data, and those responses are instantly tabulated and displayed on the projector.

They have a good track record of encouraging student engagement and active learning- they’re not just for multiple choice quizzes and 200-student classes.

Some good uses of clickers:

  • Quickly polling the class for opinions or experiences, especially on subjects they may not feel comfortable openly discussing.
  • Having students answer questions on the material for immediate and accurate feedback on if they are truly grasping it or not. The instructor can then tailor the class appropriately.
  • Collecting data from experiments, etc, and having it automatically charted.

Prior to ordering the clickers there was some healthy skepticism around how appropriate they were for Hampshire. Megan left it up to the students- and every single one wanted to try them.

My philosophy is that we’ll never know what technologies work for Hampshire unless we try them, and we can’t afford to let useful innovations pass us by. Look for a report later this semester on how it went for Megan and her students!

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