Thursday, December 31, 2009

Focusing in on the Participants

So with a little practice, we should now know enough to build a relatively simple TurningPoint slide. But building the slides for which your audience shall provide input is half the battle. The other half revolves around knowing, perhaps only anonymously, who the participants are. TurningPoint, as had been stated from the very beginning, is an audience response system. With this post, we shall look into a little of what can be known of (and done with) the audience.

When we had previously discussed the TurningPoint toolbar/ribbon, one of the tools pertained to working with participants. As had been stated, this tool allows you to create, edit, import, or delete participant lists. The participants within this list may potentially be associated with a particular clicker, designated by the clicker's ID. Let us then focus on how to interact with this participant list, and the potential for associating clickers to them.

Creating a Participant List
Under the Participants tool menu, one of the options available allows you to create a participant list by means of a wizard. When using the wizard, you may choose one of four different participant list templates: education, corporate, available fields, and custom. Education specifically correlates with participant lists involving students, while corporate correlates with business. Available fields templates allow you to choose from any field that has been defined for use within TurningPoint, either by default or from the user. Custom templates allow you to create the template from scratch.

Once you have defined which template and relating fields to use for your participant list, you may then create groups. By using groups, you can split up your participants for demographic and team purposes. With respect to creating a participant list, this step is entirely optional. However, depending on the context of the participant list and planned sessions, creating groups may be a good (perhaps even necessary) idea.

Next, simply name the participant list, so that it may be saved and reused for subsequent sessions. Upon doing so, clicking 'Finish' will allow you to edit the list. But before discussing how to edit the newly created list, potentially you may instead want to import this list.

Importing a Participant List
Importing a participant list is as simple as opening a file--in fact, this is exactly what you will be doing. By selecting the participant menu option to import the list, an open file dialog box is displayed. Defaulting to a 'Participants' folder, this option is looking for a *.tpl or *.tpp file; this file is formatted in a particular way for TurningPoint to know it corresponds to a participant list. Open the file, and a new window will open up for editing the list.

Editing a Participant List
After creating or importing a participant list, it should not seem so surprising that you can (and most likely will) edit this list. To do so, a window will be displayed housing a table of fields; in particular, those fields specified when creating the list. By default, the first field in the table will refer to the device (clicker) ID. On the back of a clicker is the ID for it; entering the hexadecimal value in the spot for this field will then assign it to the corresponding student.

Discussing what can be done with the participant list within the window may take a whole post in itself, and most likely will in the future. What is important to note for the time being is that you can add participants in much the same way as you would interact with an Excel spreadsheet. In fact, the window also allows you to import a participant list from an Excel spreadsheet.

Deleting a Participant List
There may come a time, such as the end of a semester, in which you would like to delete a participant list. TurningPoint allows this feature for a clean delete. Deleting the corresponding file for the participant list will result in the same way; however, as a convenience factor, you may delete the list from within TurningPoint itself. When you choose this option, a window will display all of the participant lists TurningPoint knows about. Click whichever list, and then click the 'Delete' button. Simple as that.

One of the most beneficial uses for a participant list is reflected in the reports that TurningPoint can generate for you. Reports shall be discussed in a future post, since they are a little bit more advanced. However, by "knowing" who your participants are, the reports will provide an abundance in meaningful information for assessing the knowledge of the participant.

With that, we have a little of the how for participant lists, along with a fragment of the why. Both aspects shall be discussed further as needed. Next week, however, the post shall provide a use case of TurningPoint within WSC.

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