Answers just a few clicks away

By Matthew Rainwater

DeKALB | Clickers have made their way from living rooms across the country into college classrooms.

An i-clicker is a new teaching device called a Personal Response System. The device has been used for the first time this semester in some classrooms. Proponents of the new gadget say it helps make courses more interactive between instructors and students.

Joseph Scudder, an associate professor of communication, is one of a few professors using the device. He’s been using it for his Introduction to Communication Theory class, where students use the device for quizzes Scudder gives throughout the semester. He polls the students by displaying six questions on the projector screen during the class period, based on the course subject matter.

Students have about a minute to answer with their i-clicker, and Scudder shows the breakdown of answers just seconds later.

Scudder is free to walk around the classroom with the aid of his electronic tablet. He feels he can interact more with students this way, instead of being restricted to the front of the room where the computer is, like many other instructors.

“The i-clicker is a good way for professors to use it as a way to monitor how well students are doing in class and also if they are understanding the subject matter,” Scudder said.

Students have to buy an i-clicker after they register for a class that’s using the device. The entire class receives the calculator sized device, which costs about $20. The device can be re-used for $15 each semester, and after three semesters, a student doesn’t have to pay for it anymore and can keep the device.

Some students have mixed feelings toward i-clickers. Isabel Kwatro, a senior organizational and corporate communication major, said hers has malfunctioned in the past during classes. However, she said she still finds it better than using a Scantron.

Jay Graziano, a senior communication major, said the i-clicker makes things more organized for the professor since it is easy to use. Overall, Graziano said the device is good for the classroom.

Scudder plans to reuse the i-clicker program, since he feels there are more advantages than disadvantages to using the device. It reduces paperwork, since a student’s grade can go directly to Blackboard. Of course, Scudder said there are bumps here and there, but that can be due to Wi-Fi problems.

Several other professors in physics, philosophy, business and biology have been using the i-clicker program as well this past semester.