Keeping an audience’s attention has never been easy, and innovations in teaching often find instructors doing their best to adapt to new trends in teaching methodologies. The trouble with trends, though, is their future is never certain.
Given students’ propensity to keep their phones on at all times, it could be argued that mobile phones have become yet another obstacle in the pathway toward full engagement. However, because technology in the classroom has proven itself as being here to stay, many have found ways to incorporate it into their classroom delivery style.
Clicker tools, also known as student response systems, are a technology often used by instructors to capture the interest of student participants. These devices can be used for informal polling, to administer quizzes or even take attendance. But for many, the assignment of a physical device to a specific student over the course of a semester was problematic, and in some cases, more hassle than it was worth.
Last August, Turning Technologies introduced its ResponseWare app which can be found at the intersection of clicker tools and mobile devices. This powerful combination of technology and convenience encourages students to use their phones during class by turning them into clickers. It is cloud-based, potentially allowing the results for one student to follow them through their academic career rather than being tied to one device.
Student adoption has been positive at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where a pharmaceutical instructor reports seeing more participation with the app versus with straight lectures in his 75-participant class (Fuhrman, 2015). While the app may not make the material any easier for students, it does allow faculty to check in with them about where they are experiencing difficulty and react appropriately. If only grading their papers were as easy as clicking a button!