WeClick: Expanding the educational applications of clicker technology

Summary

Personal response systems or “clickers” have been popular classroom tools in colleges and university courses since 1998. Using the Junction interface, WeClick applications build upon the extensive literature on the use of clickers in classrooms through the development of innovative applications on mobile devices.

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Background

Clickers have been successfully used to increase student engagement, interaction, and feedback, particularly in large lecture classes. Notable examples include the work of Dr. Eric Mazur of Harvard University who first incorporated clickers into the physics curricula. Current researcher on the impact of clickers has shown in a variety of fields findings of increased learning gains, improved problem-solving skills, and greater understanding of concepts (see [Mazur, 2009]).

The opportunities to enhance clicker technology and pedagogy are facilitated by the Junction interface, a decentralized cross-platform architecture that supports multi-party applications. Using Junction, the basic clicker functionalities are easily transferred to any web-enabled mobile device without the student having to purchase a separate device for each course that is using clickers.

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Demonstration

Opportunities and Next Steps

While there are numerous commercial companies developing mobile applications for clickers, the WeClick research team is experimenting with several different variations of clickers that have a strong pedagogical grounding with an emphasis on interactive engagement during the course, promote peer instruction and teamwork, and focus on the learning needs of individual students. Some initial ideas include:

Engage-o-meter: Students provide real-time feedback to the presenter on their interest in, knowledge of, etc. the content being presented. A graph on the top right corner of the page will display the % of students who have pressed the “interested” button on their respective clickers. This way the lecturer can modify his lecture until he sees the rating going up.

Slide Turner: Slide Turner: Promotes self-pacing of slides through majority class vote. Students can decide to go back to the next slide. In that case, a back arrow gets displayed on the current slide and the instructor can go back to it if he wishes so.

These applications get activated only when the teacher decides to activate them from his phone. Both an instructor and student version of the WeClick application will be available.

Traditional uses of clickers in the classroom typically poll students on a variety of questions related to their conceptual understanding, recall, and application of the content being presented. While these responses are useful to the instructor in checking for student understanding and guiding the pace and types of content that are presented, we are interested in exploring how these student responses can be captured and documented for the individual student. For example, statistics representing the individual’s scores relative to the rest of the class could be used as a tool for self-assessment, highlighting content areas that require more attention, and mapped over the course of the class as a personal record of his or her own learning and archived in their PrPl e-portfolio.

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People

Faculty Former Member

Dr. Paul, Kim
  Dr. Helen L. Chen
Aditi Goyal
 

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"WeClick: Enhancing Personal Response Systems Using the Junction Interface" is the subproject of POMI in Education.