B. Yu, M. Arnott

British Columbia Institute of Technology (CANADA)
Personal Response System (PRS), or commonly known as Clickers, have been used extensively and effectively in the classroom to engage students and improve learning. However, most clicker systems require students to purchase a device and instructors to install a base station to work. Others require proprietary server or client software installation. Both the cost and the extra hardware can be deterrents for both students and instructors, and especially for institutions that operate on a tight budget and with minimal technical support. The traditional clicker systems are also limited in its use with only multiple choice questions, thus limiting to only one type of student interaction. In this paper, we propose a browser based classroom responder system and the pedagogical approaches in adopting this system to improve student engagement in the classroom. This system differs mostly from other systems in that any device that has the capability to browse the network can function as a clicker, and the instructor workstation or a separate server can be set up as a base station to capture and archive student responses. There is no other hardware necessary. Hence, students can use a variety of devices such as most modern cell phones, portable game machines, tablet devices, and even media players that have browser capability as their input device. The system is also extended to allow students to submit short answers and even graphics, when appropriate, in addition to single selection of answers to multiple choice questions.

The classroom responder system is being made publicly available for anyone who is interested in adopting a clicker system in the classroom. The paper describes how the system can be easily setup and customized for specific course usages. However, our experiences have shown that having the technology capabilities is only one small part to improving student engagement and learning in the classroom. The majority of students we have encountered are more accustomed to passive learning than active learning. We will describe an integrative pedagogical approach that was taken to complement the use of this classroom responder system in preparing the students for interactive engagement in the classroom at a post-secondary technical institution in Canada. This includes pre-lecture reading assignment, peer-instruction, regular posting submissions on a learning management system (LMS), and how these activities are coordinated with classroom activities, assignments, and assessments. Finally, we will report on student perceptions on the use of the system, correlation with student performances, lessons learned, and future extensions of the system.