Instructional Technologies in Education


See also the online video module,
"Using Clickers in the College Classroom."

What are they?

Clickers refer to classroom response systems (CRS), also known as personal response systems, consisting of devices that students can use to interact with an instructor's questions via computer software.1

Essentially, a classroom response system is technology that:

  • allows an instructor to present a question or problem to the class;
  • allows students to enter their answers into some kind of device; and
  • instantly aggregates and summarizes students' answers for the instructor, usually as a histogram.2

Implications for teaching:

"...the technology has the potential to transform the way we teach... [especially] in large lecture settings. CRSs can serve as catalysts for creating a more interactive, student-centered classroom in the lecture hall, thereby allowing students to become more actively involved in constructing and using knowledge. CRSs not only make it easier to engage students in learning activities during lecture but also enhance the communication among students, and between the students and the instructor. This enhanced communication assists the students and the instructor in assessing understanding during class time, and affords the instructor the opportunity to devise instructional interventions that target students' needs as they arise."2

1 Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University
2 Ian Beatty, Physics Education Research Group, University of Massachusetts

See also: 7 things you should know about...Clickers (PDF)

How are they used in education?

  • Classroom response systems can be used with any size class, especially where prompt, anonymous feedback from students can aid instruction.
    • Check for understanding during lectures.
    • Provide short quizzes on readings.
    • Poll for opinions on sensitive subjects.
    • Ask for student predictions prior to observing an activity or presenting a myth-busting topic.
    • Check attendance via one of the above methods.
  • Using Clickers in the Classroom: Examples of how to use clickers from Russell James.
  • See "Strategies" below for more ideas.

What are some resources?

Where is there help?