Thursday, December 31, 2009

Clickers Beyond the Classroom

From the start of this blog, the primary focus of using TurningPoint has been its use within a classroom setting.  In fact, one common name for clickers is 'classroom response systems.'  However, audience response systems are much more than that, and are not beneficial only in the classroom environment.  Use of TurningPoint has increased at Westfield State outside the classroom, such as committee meetings, conventions, and campus events.  Whereas using clickers inside the classroom can be used to foster increased student learning, this benefit may not be so relevant outside.  So, what benefits may be found in using TurningPoint clickers in these other areas?

First and foremost, TurningPoint is an audience response system--it allows the whole audience to respond to the presentation, in real time.  In cases such as conventions, the audience may be relatively large.  How can you not just quickly, but also easily, receive a response from two hundred people in a large room and make use of it instantly?  When using TurningPoint, posing an opinion-based multiple choice question will let the presenter know the general consensus over an issue being discussed, while it is being discussed.

For conventions and campus events, this can be incredible useful.  In the classroom, you may (though not necessarily) know at least some of how much your students understand the material, or what they may think about it.  It is much harder to gauge this understanding in a room full of strangers.  Members of the audience themselves also will not fully know how their opinion compares with those around him/her.  However, when asked for an opinion using TurningPoint, after the polling ends, the presenter and audience all will have a basis.

It is entirely possible, and even likely, that the presentation and feedback from the audience will not just benefit from having TurningPoint collect and portray this information in real time, but a means to allow the feedback to be discussed is fostered.  This scenario happened recently with one of Westfield State's committees.  Scenarios were presented to the members of the committee, and each member had a clicker to respond whether they agreed, disagreed, or were neutral.  For topics in which member responses were disparate, open discussions were allowed to offer suggestions on how to improve the scenario in question.

Whether in the classroom, a committee, or nearly anywhere else in life, there will be those who tend to be very vocal in expressing their opinions, while other may have very strong opinions but have trouble being vocal about them.  With TurningPoint, everyone has a voice, and all of those voices are heard.

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