Classroom response systems allow students to answer questions in real time. There are myriad uses for this technology: taking attendance, administering pop quizzes, gauging how much of the course material students have retained, etc. The fundamental uses are undeniable, especially for boosting engagement in larger classes. But instructors and organizations have some choice in exactly how they tackle classroom response.
Classroom Response: Clickers
Initially, classroom response systems depended on clickers, which allowed for live multiple-choice polling. Students could then use handheld transmitters to answer quizzes or signal their attendance in class. The results then collect and display in the form of a bar chart. This undoubtedly adds a layer of interactivity into classrooms at every level, particularly large college lectures in which students could otherwise feel very anonymous.
As useful as these preliminary “clicker” systems were in facilitating basic surveys in the classroom, they also have some limitations—primarily that there’s often no way to go beyond multiple-choice answers. This is great for a quick quiz during class, but it doesn’t allow students to provide more freeform answers or submit questions of their own.
Perhaps the biggest challenge associated with clickers is their cumbersome nature. Either organizations must purchase transmitters for each student or students must eat the cost. It also requires participants remembering to bring an extra device with them to each class session. And, as instructors know, additional moving parts tend to complicate the process.
Classroom Response: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Organizations are increasingly considering the merits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies because they incorporate the mobile devices that people already carry with them. In the debate between BYOD vs. clickers, as evidenced by this Poll Everywhere blog post, is admittedly ongoing. But in truth BYOD offers a few competitive advantages, including:
- BYOD allows participants to submit “more complex answers than A-through-D questions.”
- BYOD eliminates some forms of cheating, including the ability for students to swap clickers.
- Many students already bring mobile devices with them everywhere they go; a web-based system allows them to answer flexibly via text, web browser or mobile app.
- Organizations and individuals can avoid the cost of purchasing a clicker they may only use a few times.
- People tend to prefer using their own mobile devices because they’re used to them and see them as tools for enrichment.
As you can see, integrating classroom response with BYOD is the natural predecessor to clickers because the technology is already so prevalent. Have you ever heard the motto, “If you can’t beat them, join them”? Students are already going to have their smartphones; BYOD in the context of classroom response can help harness them for good rather than for illicit distraction.
Things to Consider with a BYOD Policy
Of course, like any policy, successfully implementing a BYOD policy takes some planning and collaboration between departments. There’s the ever-present challenge of cybersecurity in schools, of course. Making sure your IT team is on board is key. Your organization will need the capacity to handle many devices connected to the internet at once—smoothly and safely. Otherwise, BYOD will simply become a hassle for everyone involved.
As the teacher, you’ll also need to have a firm grasp on how students are using their devices. Make it clear that just because smartphones, tablets and laptops are permitted for polling, it doesn’t give students free rein to use them during the rest of class time.
Classroom response systems with BYOD are the natural succession to clickers because they’re more seamless to adopt. By using the devices students already have to bring live polling into the classroom, instructors are able to boost engagement. BYOD goes beyond multiple-choice quizzing to allow for a full range of unique questions and answers.