Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics > Teaching Methods > Classroom Response Systems > What is a Classroom Response System? > Technical Details

The business model from manufacturers is to provide the software and receivers free to the instructor or school while requiring students to purchase or rent the transmitters. A common practice for schools is to keep the receiver and software on the computer in the classroom so that the instructor doesn't have to connect and disconnect the receiver after each class. Usually instructors bring a USB memory device (i.e. "thumb" drive) into class to store student data collected from the receiver. The same USB device is then carried back to the instructor's office for data management. That way, the original data and grading files are always in the same place.

Most of the systems have features that can transform the raw data and grading files into file types that are quickly and easily imported into a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Blackboard. Generally speaking, the data files are .csv files that can also be manipulated in Excel or other spreadsheets. After some experience with the software you're using, you should be able to grade student responses, convert the files, and upload into your LMS within just a few minutes after class.

There are four main systems available in the market today. eInstruction owns the Classroom Performance System (CPS). Turning Technologies is the third system while the other two systems are Qwizdom and iClicker. Some basic information about each system is provided here while details can be found on each company's website by following the links below.

Students using the Personal Response System (PRS) make a one-time purchase of their transmitter at the bookstore or some other retail outlet. The same student can use the transmitter for multiple classes in the same semester or over multiple semesters. At Florida State University, the after-tax price for the student is about $50. All types of questions are allowed: multiple choice, multiple answer, numeric, and short answer.

Students using the Classroom Performance System (CPS) make both a one-time purchase of their transmitter plus a semester registration fee. CPS clickers cost the bookstore about $18 to purchase so the final sales price to the student depends on profit margins and sales tax. The registration fee is $13 per semester with a lifetime cap of $39. In addition to traditional multiple choice, numeric, and multiple response questions are allowed.

Turning Technologies clickers are one-time purchases. The bookstore cost ranges from $25 to $40, depending on the model type. Instructors can ask not only multiple choice, but also alphanumeric, multiple response, short answer and numeric questions. Their web-based device, ResponseWare, works on any web enable device such a cell phone, laptop, or PDA. The student cost for a 1 year license is $15.00 while a four-year license is $32.00.

Qwizdom has three different clickers available. The cost to the bookstore ranges from $29 to $50 per clicker and it is a one-time purchase for students. Multiple choice, alphanumeric, text, numeric, true/false, yes/no, rating scale, sequencing and multiple response questions are supported. Qwizdom also has a virtual remote called QVR that can be used on any smart phone or web-enabled device. The cost to the student is $14.95 for one year or $29.95 for 4 years.

iClicker allows for multiple choice, true/false, Likert Scale, and general polling questions. Instructors and students like the simplicity that comes with the system. iClickers cost the bookstore $28.75 and students make a one-time purchase.

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