Clickers will change the culture of the classroom. Trees and Jackson (2007) suggest "the final effectiveness of the clicker will rest with each student accepting the potential of clickers to positively affect their learning. The success of the clickers is in many ways dependent on social, not technological, factors. Instructors must work to facilitate student acceptance and to frame student perceptions of the technology."
Choosing a System
Probably the first step to using clickers is to actually decide which system to adopt. Each institution will have different rules or suggestions for instructors to assist with that decision. Some institutions adopt a single system that all instructors are required to use. This is especially helpful for students who only have to purchase one clicker and use it anywhere on campus. Other institutions allow the instructor to choose. Please consult with your classroom support or technology office to find out what the adoption rules are. Barber and Njus (2007) and Burnstein and Lederman (2003) offer reviews of the clicker technology available.
The technology may seem overwhelming at first, especially if your style has been "chalk and talk." The best way to get comfortable with the technology is to actually use it in class. It is difficult to simulate a classroom environment in your office and practice asking questions. Most of the manufacturers' web sites have tutorials which are helpful but can't simulate the full classroom experience.
Types of Questions
Most Classroom Response Systems can implement a variety of question types. While multiple-choice is the most common type, true or false, multiple-answer, surveys or polling, and numeric questions are also possible with most systems.
Timing of Questions
Instructors employ different strategies regarding the timing of questions during class. Some prefer to ask questions only at the beginning or end of class, while others prefer to insert questions throughout the class period. The actual strategy will depend on the personal style of the instructor and the actual use of questions.
The grading policies will be a major element to implementing clickers in class. The first-time policy may evolve into a more complex grading policy in future semesters.
In and Out-of-Class Procedures
Here is a typical procedure for an instructor who is using a Classroom Response System with PowerPoint. Upon logging on to the computer, activate the clicker software to identify the radio frequency and ensure no technical difficulties arise. Start PowerPoint which will automatically detect the clicker software. Give class presentation while asking numerous clickers questions throughout. Responses are automatically saved in a new folder within the software, but specifically on a USB drive that the instructor brought to class. When class is dismissed, close PowerPoint then close the clicker software. Take the USB drive back to the instructor's office. Start the clicker software, grade the responses, and export the file into a readable format for the Learning Management System (LMS; e.g. Blackboard or Angel). Open the course LMS site and upload scores for the day.
Essentially the same procedure is followed if PowerPoint is not used. The questions will be stored and displayed within the clicker software itself.
Tips and Suggestions for using clickers
Here are some points to consider regarding the use of clickers. These should lower the learning curve for any user, but especially first-time adopters.