Soon it may be time to power off the Qwizdom clicker system for good and make way for new technology.
Instructional Support Services and the LSA Student Government have been researching replacement options for the student response remotes used in lectures at the University, most of which are for science and engineering courses.
The reasoning behind these changes comes from multiple problems ISS has encountered with the Qwizdom system, which has been in place for about three or four years.
These problems include multiple technical bugs within the system, a lack of reliability in storing grades and Qwizdom’s incompatibility with Apple computers and Windows Vista.
The set-up of the system also does not allow professors to navigate away from the Qwizdom slides.
“It kind of discourages professors from using YouTube, or using video clips or audio clips,” said Laura Hlebasko, vice chair of the LSA Student Government’s Advisory Committee to ISS.
Student feedback from online evaluations was also taken into account with the selections, which prompted ISS to look into systems that offered options other than a traditional clicker.
“Students can purchase a ‘clicker’ device or, if permitted by their instructors, use their own WiFi device such as an iPod, Web-enabled cell phone or a laptop,” wrote Monika Dressler, senior manager of LSA ISS, and her colleagues in an e-mail to the Daily.
Though the research began last spring, the replacement choices have recently been narrowed down to two different systems: the iClicker and Turning Technology.
Hlebasko describes the iClicker as being “the size of a candy bar with five different buttons,” and the Turning Technology device as “the size of a credit card, with an LCD screen.”
ISS representatives wrote that unlike Qwizdom, both new options seem more reliable and will offer flexibility in the type of presentations professors can use them with. They also have the ability to work on both Macs and PCs.
Myron Campbell, professor of physics and associate dean of natural sciences, said one of the greatest difficulties he has faced has been the lack of flexibility Qwizdom offers in lectures.
“I would like to be able to ask the same question again (in lecture) but that’s very cumbersome in the current system,” he said.
Both Campbell and ISS said they are conscious of the economic impact the system’s replacement will have on students — but they said that will be less of a problem with the new options.
“Although we have not yet approached the other companies to negotiate price, the starting costs for the clickers and software from iClicker and Turning Technology are already lower than a new Qwizdom clicker,” the ISS representatives wrote.
They added that both companies seem willing to work out a buyback program for students who own Qwizdom clickers.
While research into these new programs is progressing, Hlebasko said there may not be a change if “there isn’t that big of an improvement or if students and faculty don’t see a big need for a change.”
The ISS representatives said they are particularly anxious to get student input, both from students involved in a pilot run planned for selected classes this winter and from students with general concerns.
ISS officials said they hope to have a clicker choice implemented by next fall.