One of my goals this semester has been to implement an audience response system into my classes. Last semester the law library spent some time researching different systems. We decided to use a web-based system rather than a traditional clicker system. The web-based system we chose is Live Class Tech. It allows students to use their computers, smartphones, or tablets to respond to or submit questions throughout the class period. The benefits of the system are that it is less expensive than purchasing physical clickers, there is no hardware to maintain, and the developer of the system is a faculty member from another department on campus so we have on-site support. Some of the drawbacks include that it has fewer capabilities than the other clickers we examined, and it is web-based. Our computer lab classroom can at times have Internet connectivity and firewall problems and is prone to slow connections. Having a noticeable lag time between the question and the response defeats the purpose of instantaneous feedback.
Well, it is November, the semester is almost over, and I have finally had a chance to incorporate the system into a class. Adding a new technology is fun and challenging, but it is also time consuming. You have to learn the new system or technology and find effective ways to incorporate into your instruction. You also have to choose the first class carefully and be okay with the possibility that it may not be a smooth transition. The first part of the semester we were primarily teaching first year students. I didn’t feel comfortable taking that risk with them. I feel much more comfortable doing this with our established 2 and 3Ls, who tend to be much less anxious.
The Live Class Tech system we are using is fairly easy to use. You can either add impromptu questions with a standard set of answers choices to choose from (true/ false, yes/ no, confused/bored), or you can build quizzes to administer at any point during the class. My favorite aspect of this system is the comment option. Students can type in questions and leave comments anonymously throughout the class. While this has some obvious drawbacks it is actually a really great way for students to ask questions if they are nervous about speaking out in class. I have been teaching Oklahoma Legal Research this week as a part of our legal research certificate program. My attendance has been small for each session, and students are very comfortable asking questions, but I know this will be invaluable in our larger LRW sessions for next semester.
Instructors tend to have very strong feelings about clickers one way or another. I am still learning the system, but so far it has been a great addition to my instruction. Do you use a clicker system, why or why not? Which do you like or dislike?