University City

'Clicker' to be standard class equipment

This fall, when students arrive at the campus bookstore to purchase materials, chances are the cashier will add a small device to the stack of textbooks.

It's called an audience response system, and although many returning students at UNC Charlotte already are familiar with the devices, nicknamed "clickers," they, too, may be required to purchase a new one.

A clicker is a handheld wireless signaling device used in classrooms for students to participate in polls and quizzes, among other interactive tasks.

UNC Charlotte will standardize the type of clicker used university-wide beginning this fall semester with a clicker designed by Turning Technologies. A small number of professors will begin using the devices during summer sessions.

Michael Moore, an instructional technologist at UNC Charlotte and member of the Clicker Review Committee, said the team chose the new company for its user-friendly devices and quick response.

Workshops will be announced this month for students and faculty to become familiar with the product.

The new clickers will cost $40, but a $10 mail-in rebate will make the cost more manageable, said Moore. Students can also turn in their old clickers for an additional $5 off.

"We're trying really hard to make the transition from one system to another as easy as we could, not just technically but also financially," said Moore, who holds a doctorate.

Moore estimates just under 50 percent of courses require the use of the devices on campus. With the benefits of clickers becoming more widely known, he said, he expects the percentage to continue rising among professors.

Clickers look similar to pocket calculators: Students press the number and letter keys on the device to answer questions posed by the professor, take quizzes and even mark their own attendance.

The devices send a signal to a receiver inside the classroom podium and from there to a computer, where instructors can display quiz or poll results instantly. "It reminds people of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' in terms of ask the audience," said Moore.

Moore, who teaches workshops on clicker use, said professors find the devices most helpful when determining misunderstandings in course material.

Richard Jew, a lecturer in chemistry, agrees: "From a teaching perspective, clickers are useful to highlight points that are not well understood by a majority of the class, or to help identify misconceptions," said Jew, who holds a doctorate.

"This is a good indicator of whether more time should be spent on a particular subject, or if there are more illustrative examples needed to drive home a point."

Briefs

UNC Charlotte's first five-week summer session begins May 23 and ends June 29. The last day to add or drop a course with no grade is May 24. For a list of available courses, visit www.summer.uncc.edu.

Employee Retention and Engagement, a course offered through Continuing Education, will be held 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. May 23 in the UNC Charlotte Ben Craig Center. Topics include how to attract the best employees. Call 704-687-8900.

The UNC Charlotte 49er bass team will compete in the 2011 Collegiate Bass Championship at Lewisville Lake in Texas on May 26-27. The event will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable Channel 74.

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