I recently attended a NASA/JPL teaching workshop. It was designed to give Astro grad, post doc, and Ph.Ds a few tips and tools for use in the classroom. On of the great tools was a 4 color sheet of paper.
Students fold the sheet so that only one color/letter shows. The instructor will present a question, without reading it, ask the students to prepare their votes. They all vote silently, and simultaneously. The instructor then gets immediate feedback, and decides what to do next.
This has a unique advantage over clickers. The results are immediate, the individuals, patterns and problems are quickly identifiable, and remediation can take place, or the lesson can continue. The students are interacting, engaged,accountable, and cannot ride the clicker wave,since voting is simultaneous.
A cellphone is something that everyone has, and smartphones are becoming more popular. There are apps for phones, like Responseware that act a lot like clickers. It is a free app, but you have to subscribe to their site to record results.
So I decided to make a cellphone app, that utilizes the advantages of voter cards, (though I realize the pros/cons of cons in the classroom)and works on phones that are increasing in popularity. I can see a tremendous use a darkened lecture hall where its use would be dramatically obvious. But its uses are varied, as it will work well as a light source etc. I made it simple to use, free to download, and I can customize it with your name if you like. Here are some shots from the App
It is made for the Android, though I am working on a iPhone version. Apple isn't as developer friendly, or inexpensive, so a release date is unknown. There is a free flashlight app that would work okay though.
This is the interface. The instructor says "Prepare your Vote", you select your choice, and show it on 3, (or on 0, if the count is 3,2,1,vote)
To reset the screen, simply press reset. Though if you like, you can leave the screen where it is, and press the background where the letter choice would approximately be. (shown below in gray)
If you are interested in trying it out,it is now available on the Android Market for Free
Product Description Think, Pair, Share...Vote!
Many schools and universities have adopted Classroom Response Systems, also known as "clickers". An instructor will present a question, then ask the students to select the answer they believe is correct. The results are then projected on the board. The instructor then must decide whether the topic was covered effectively, or if remediation is required.
It's a modern adaptation of the time tested, and highly effective, paper response cards. Clickers have their problems though. They are expensive, and more importantly, they fail to provide immediate individual feedback to the instructor. When the instructor makes time to look at individual responses, the students have gone.
Students may also delay their vote, to see where the trend is heading and then make their choice, thus making much of the data useless. It's a cold technology
Using response cards is much better than "clickers" They all vote silently, and simultaneously. The instructor then gets immediate feedback from the whole, and the individual. The individual weaknesses, and strengths become very clear. The instructor can interact on an individual basis, and give much needed praise to those that have struggled, but now have found success. A simple smile, or "nice job" can go a long way, especially for the younger students.
The students are not only interacting, and engaged,they are accountable for their learning.
I made this app as a replacement for the paper response sheets since my students forget everything, except their phones. I also teach in a darkened area, so the lighted display is an added benefit. Please check with your prof before using, he or she may not allow phones in the classroom!
I highly recommend that all grad, post docs, PhDs and astro 101 instructors take the class. http://astronomy101.jpl.nasa.gov/