Student Response Systems

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STUDENT response systems (SRS), also called "clickers," are handheld devices that help teachers poll students during class sessions and tabulate the responses. This technology is the same (often with the same devices) as that used when audiences are asked to vote on something during a television quiz program. These systems are also known as classroom response systems, personal response systems, and audience response systems.

Basically, this technology enables students to respond to a question by entering their answers into a handheld device. A computer using specialized software registers all of the student responses, possibly as many as hundreds of them at a time. With a computer, projector, or a whiteboard, a teacher can display a graph of class responses, discuss group or individual responses, or use the information for lesson planning and other purposes.

Response technologies vary tremendously. Some make it possible to use a cell phone or other handheld device as a clicker. Some enable users to respond with text only, with numbers only, or by pressing one of three or four buttons. Some models allow students to press a button when they don't understand what's going on or in other specific situations; some only allow responses to specific questions.

Some technologies identify the responses of specific students; some don't identify users. Some automatically feed answers into grading systems and can be used for administering paperless quizzes. Some can be used for taking attendance and other purposes such as answering questions with text messaging, a very recent technology. Some are compatible with assessment and other programs such as Pearson's Limelight assessment program, which works with both eInstruction and Promethean clickers.

The advantages of student response systems include increasing student involvement and allowing rapid and accurate assessment of understanding, knowledge, or interest. These systems can help teachers take advantage of lesson plans they already have and, in some cases, help them create new plans. In general, they create more opportunities for students to participate and can lead to a more stimulating learning environment that encourages student participation.

This roundup will provide a look at a representative sampling of student response systems. The information is intended to provide a basic overview for anyone interested in incorporating clickers into their teaching techniques and options.

ResponseWare

Turning Technologies, LLC

www.turningtechnologies.com

Turning's ResponseWare technology turns a user's own computer or mobile device into a data collection point for a student response system. This setup is designed for schools with PC or Mac labs, mobile carts, internet-ready PDAs, or iPod touch devices. The system supports the Apple iPhone, BlackBerry smartphones, and Windows Mobile devices, as well as laptop and desktop computers.

Student responses are gathered via the internet using a Wi-Fi or data connection; the system immediately transfers the responses to TurningPoint or TurningPoint AnyWhere polling applications. The responses can be collected from devices with a QWERTY keyboard or an alphanumeric keypad (found on a cell phone).

Users can submit questions electronically to a presenter during an interactive polling session. The question-and-answer choices can be displayed on the device during polling. Question types include multiple choice, alphanumeric, multiple response, and essay.

Response Ware is browser-based and supports nearly all JavaScript-enabled web browsers. Turning Technologies provides the program's hosting and web services.

The company also markets ResponseCard keypads, handheld electronic response devices that are the size of a credit card, designed for use with the company's polling software. The ResponseCard clickers are available in radio-frequency or infrared versions. …