Thursday, December 31, 2009

To Follow in the Steps of Others

Let us take a step back, and consider a few things for a moment. The purpose of this blog may fall into two generalized categories. First is an attempt to teach the various aspects of the TurningPoint technology, or the what and how. In addition is the potentially most essential question, why?

Why should presenters use this technology?

Throughout the life of this blog, I have started, and will continue, to provide reasoning. However, with this post, I am going to share some pedagogical approaches to the technology as discovered by others. Much research has been established over the past several years regarding this type of technology, including attempting to discover the benefits of using TurningPoint. I will now present a few of such research articles and web sites, providing a short overview of each.

Students Who Use "Clickers" Score Better on Physics Tests
With this article, a focus is taken on how using clickers in the classroom has specifically helped physics students. The professor making use of them for this course is named Bill Reay, based at Ohio University. Some of his results may be a little surprising to some. For instance, it may or may not be surprising that his students' final exam grade went up a full letter grade. Also, which he provides speculative reasoning, is that his female students' grades had a greater increase. Bill effectively makes use of TurningPoint, whereby his questions focus on whether students can apply concepts as opposed to querying whether they simply remember terms and facts.

TurningPoint Student Response System
The next article is written by Victor Edmonds, director of Educational Technology Services at the University of California-Berkeley. His main focus corresponds to how the technology has grown over the past several years, in both performance and cost, and that if used properly can be a very effective tool for learning. One point he also makes is how easy deploying the technology into the classroom can be. Also, he speculates that the TurningPoint software has very many features, several of which he thought he wouldn't use--but they're there should he ever feel the need to. He also notes that Turning Technologies offers several trainings on how to use their software via their web site. When the article was written in 2004, there had not been any support for the Mac; today, there is support for Mac by using TurningPoint Anywhere or PowerPoint 2004.

telr clickers
Ohio State provides a fully featured web site through their Technology Enhanced Learning and Research (telr) web site. Similarly to this blog, the web site focuses on not only what are clickers, by why professors should consider using them. An overview is provided for the installation and deployment of the clicker software, namely TurningPoint. What I think separates this third-party web site from others that I have found, is they provide excellent teaching ideas for incorporating TurningPoint into fifteen areas of study, as diverse as agriculture, business, communications, and nursing. They also provide pedagogical reasoning for designing questions specifically for effective use within TurningPoint. Also, the web site provides seventeen articles and web sites about the research done regarding clickers.

Student Response Systems
At the University of Minnesota, a short web-based article provides several outlooks on the clicker-based technologies. As with many other articles and web sites, a basic definition of what a student response system pertains to is presented. An outline of the educational uses follow, although it does not go into detail. One of the things the article does go into detail are the issues involved with the technology, focusing on instructional, accessibility, and technical issues. One example is then provided, specifying how Donald Lui uses the technology in his large (110 or so students) economics class. Several resource and research articles and web sites are then provided to specify how various clicker technologies are used in practice.

7 things you should know about...Clickers
The last article I am going to share for this post is from EDUCAUSE. It is a two page PDF document. Beginning with a scenario, a girl attends her General Chemistry lecture-based class, holding more than 400 students. From there, it poses seven questions, providing snippets of answers. It explores what it is, and who's doing it. Then it considers what makes clickers unique. EDUCAUSE then portrays why they feel it to be significant. Next, like some other articles, it explains the downside of using clickers, mostly only focusing on the cost. Lastly, it wonders where the technology is headed, and what implications it has for both teaching and learning.

This post essentially sought to share what other people in the clicker community have been doing. Not just with TurningPoint, but also the technological and pedagogical aspects of clickers in general. Hopefully, with an overview of both this blog and the articles / web sites presented in this post, there will be more of a chance to see the benefits of using clicker technology in the classroom.

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