Student response systems, which use wireless remotes and sophisticated software to enable teachers to poll their students, are growing in popularity. Several new manufacturers have entered the market just this year, and a number of companies that make interactive whiteboards, slates, audio systems, document cameras and other technologies are also increasingly making response systems, designing all these devices to work together in the classroom.
The immediacy and option of anonymity of student response enable teachers to ask questions of their classes and instantly see results, making assessment a continual formative process instead of a time-consuming occasional one. They also enable students to answer honestly via their own devices without feeling intimidated by a formal quiz or exam. And as with other technology, the capabilities of these systems continue to increase. The first clicker devices with full QWERTY keyboards are just coming to market, for example, enabling more sophisticated answer-giving, using complete sentences or math equations instead of simple multiple choice, which is particularly relevant to the new generation of assessments. The industry is also beginning to enter the next frontier: developing applications that give response capabilities to the smartphones that many students are already bringing to school. Here are some of the many choices to consider using in your district.
$2,409 for a 24-remote set, Grades 6-12
eInstruction's CPSPulse offers a three-line LCD screen, typical battery life of 9 to 12 months, and an operating range of 150 feet. The system takes advantage of eInstruction's ExamView content from over 6,400 textbooks, so teachers have access to more than 14,000 questions through the user software, and even more peer-created resources through the online user community. The CPSPulse also integrates with eInstruction's other classroom technologies, including its interactive whiteboard and interactive slate. www.einstruction.com
MimioVote $1,699 for 24-remote set, Grades K-12
This new system from DYMO/Mimio ITT (formerly mimio) is part of the company's MimioClassroom suite of products designed to integrate with one another. The MimioVote system utilizes rechargeable, ergonomic response devices, with illuminated buttons that let students know which answers to choose from. The included dock recharges and automatically renumbers each device, eliminating the need to place them in any certain order. Templates from MimioStudio software or Microsoft PowerPoint can be used to create tests, using content imported from state standardized question banks or textbook publishers. www.mimio.dymo.com
$2,800 for 32-remote set, Grades 9-12
SMART Technologies has branched out into new devices in the last several years, including multiple student-response systems. The new Response XE offers a full QWERTY keyboard, enabling students to answer open-ended questions or enter math equations or scientific formulas. An intelligent grading feature allows teachers to choose several answers as acceptable or correct to any given question. A built-in gradebook program and integrated Notebook lesson software enables teachers to create questions and answers, and a single receiver supports up to 100 remotes. www.smarttech.com
$2099 for 25-remote set, Grades K-12
Promethean's ActivExpression devices offers full text capability and an LCD screen to support a variety of question and answer formats. Promethean's user software, enhanced by the company's recent acquisition of developer SynapticMash, includes a self-paced learning feature that enables teachers to create quizzes of various difficulty levels and students to answer at their own pace, and a question leveler that allows for differentiated instruction through customizing the difficulty of individual questions. The software interface also utilizes a "wonder wheel" design that floats over most software applications, so it can be used as a complement to other programs in the classroom. www.prometheanworld.com