Author Topic: US universities now use hand-held clickers to engage students in class  (Read 4362 times)

Joe Carillo

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A growing number of universities in the United States—among them Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Harvard University, the University of Arizona, and Vanderbilt University—are now using “clickers,” a palm-size, wireless device that looks like a TV remote, so teachers can monitor and engage students more intensively in class.

As reported in Jacques Steinberg in the November 15, 2010 issue of The New York Times, every student in the class is assigned a clicker. The student then uses it to automatically clock in as “present” as he or she walks into class, to answer questions by the professor during class, to answer multiple-choice quizzes that count for nearly 20 percent of his or her grade, and, if he or she is confused by the day’s lesson, to signal this to the teacher without raising a hand.

According to the report, more than a half-million students are now using the clickers in several thousand college campuses in the US, making it harder for the students to sleep during class and respond to text messages, e-mail, and other distractions.

Some students have expressed resentment over the potential Big Brother aspect of the clickers, but others actually welcome it. “I actually kind of like it,” Steinberg quoted one of the students. “It does make you read. It makes you pay attention. It reinforces what you’re supposed to be doing as a student.”

Read Jacques Steinberg’s “More Professors Give Out Hand-Held Devices to Monitor Students and Engage Them” in The New York Times now!

In “Revisit politics and English language,” an essay written for the November 17, 23010 issue of Volante, the student newspaper of the University of South Dakota, opinion columnist Thomas Emanuel warns—as George Orwell did in his seminal essay “Politics & the English Language” written in 1946—that by using muddy, unthoughtful language, people become muddy, unthoughtful thinkers, making it all too easy for others to use language to manipulate and dominate us. “When we force ourselves to write well, on the other hand,” he argues, “we force ourselves to really think about what we want to say. We become not just better potential employees (although that we do become), but better citizens and better people as well.”

Read Thomas Emanuel’s “Revisit politics and English language” in Volante now!