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Clickin’ it in style

Move over chalkboards and overhead projectors. There’s a new competitor in town and it’s here to stay.

Educational remotes have made their way onto campus, and they’ve become a hot item among professors and students.

‘I love using the remotes in class,’ said senior Chloe Hollingsworth, who used the remotes for the first time during a Human Sexuality class last semester. ‘They were able to keep me actively involved [during lectures] in a way that the professor alone wasn’t capable of doing.’

The remotes, or ‘clickers’ as they are fondly called by both students and professors, are used for a variety of alternative learning styles in large classes.

Matthew Partin, an instructor who teaches a range of biology courses, said he uses remotes not only to take attendance, but also to survey what the students are learning during longer lectures.

‘A lot of times, I use the remotes to assess what the students already know and what they are learning,’ he said. ‘Oftentimes, I’m surprised by the results. The remotes are great because they give me the opportunity to learn what the students are taking in, and I think it would be next to impossible to figure that out otherwise.’

Partin also uses the remotes to conduct test reviews, get opinions on different educational subjects and pose questions to the students in his class.

Though far removed from Partin’s biology classes, Hollingsworth witnessed similar techniques for utilizing the remotes in her Human Sexuality class.

‘[The professor] would put the question on the overhead and the whole class would answer with the remotes whether they knew the answer or not,’ she said. ‘Then my teacher would show a graph of people’s answers, along with the real answer so we could compare. It was really cool.’

But while the remotes seem to simplify classroom lectures, some students have experienced certain complications with the device, especially when registering the product with the University.

Registration can differ between classes but generally the student is asked to sign a consent form agreeing to the use of the remote during class. The number of the remote, which is found on the back of the device, is filled in at the bottom of the form and entered into a computer database. The number is then registered to the student’s remote when he or she uses it during lecture.

‘I know [registering the remotes] has caused problems for some of the students in my classroom,’ Partin said. ‘And even after that, they do take some time to get used to, but once you figure it out, it’s well worth it.’

The cost of the remotes has also become an issue among students taking classes in which the devices are used.

According to Steve Overholt, course materials manager at the University Bookstore, the most popular remote on campus ranges from $21.35 to $16.05. Another model costs $45.35 new and $34.05 used. The I-Clicker, which is the newest model seen here on campus, is priced at $35.35 new and $26.55 used.

‘Other than the I-Clicker, all remotes sold in the bookstore can be bought back,’ Overholt said. ‘I’m still unsure about the I-Clicker, but we will know soon enough.’

Partin said he tries to save his students money by allowing them to purchase older editions of the books used in his classes and hopes that one day the University will start to monitor costs for the clickers too.

‘I would like to see the University create a system that could be incorporated into the classroom,’ Partin said. ‘They could provide the students with their own remote, which could be registered in their name rather than by a number, although at this point, I’m not sure how that would work.’

Regardless of price and small cases of confusion, Hollingsworth recommends educational remotes to all students who haven’t had the opportunity to use one.

‘They really are a lot of fun, especially when you get the chance to answer a question during lecture,’ she said. ‘Besides that, they are great for academic reasons. You can’t really zone out during a boring lecture if you’re right there answering questions.’

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