Clicker tech: 5 companies championing active learning
Let's say you want to poll your class or hold a pop quiz for participation points so you can gage how many students read the assigned materials. What method would you use?
We're all familiar with clickers, those handheld devices that facilitate active learning and often resemble TV remotes. While they're still readily available, newcomers to the field are now offering alternatives that allow students to use the devices they already own as "virtual clickers"—and those companies that have long offered the "remotes" are catching on.
So who are the top players in the clicker field today? We've gathered five of the top companies below.
1. TOP HAT
The company formerly known as Top Hat Monocle seeks to do away with the clicker all together, leaving students to their own devices—literally. Students can answer in-class clicker quizzes featuring over 7 types of questions (click-on-target, matching, sorting, numeric, word answer and multiple choice) with any device they have, be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop or even a "dumbphone" via SMS. Not only does it involve no hardware at all, but additional features include the ability to create homework assignments and course packs, as well as LMS integration with Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle and Canvas. Along with a Pearson partnership, Top Hat has been adopted by over 350 schools including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Texas A&M and Duke.
Like Top Hat, Echo360's digital platform also allows students to use any device to participate in in-class polls, questions and materials. Shy or intimidated students can also ask questions anonymously so they don't become disengaged and slip behind. Former America Online CEO Steve Case is a supporter, and the company's LectureTools are now in use by MIT, Princeton, Stanford and a host of other four- and two-year institutions, as well as individual law schools, business schools and colleges of health sciences.
3. MACMILLAN SCIENCE AND EDUCATION
Education publishing giant Macmillan Science and Education is the company behind the i>clicker, a device that is also one of the company's most successful products. According to Macmillan, the remotes, which range from about $30 to nearly $50 on Amazon, were built by educators for educators. Over 1,300 institutions in North America currently use i>clicker, and the company also now offers "i>Clicker GO," which allows students to use the devices they already own. Are their physical clickers' days numbered?
4. TURNING TECHNOLOGIES
The Turning Technologies' ResponseCard line of clickers resembles a cross between a TV remote and calculator. According to the website, ResponseCards are among the lightest clickers on the market. Those listed on Amazon run between $20 to $50. Like Macmillan, however, Turning now offers a solution that allows students to use their own web-enabled mobile devices as virtual ResponseCards—and even supports a "blended" option where combinations of ResponseWare and ResponseCards can be used in tandem.
5. VIA RESPONSE TECHNOLOGIES
Via Response Technologies' clicker solution also turns students' devices into a classroom response system, and features like Via Engage encourage discussion with social media features like live chat and discussion. It also stores a question bank and gradebook in the cloud. According to its site, Via Response is free for instructors, but students pay for a license.
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