After a three-year stint as the University’s preferred Audience Response System, the Qwizdom remote has been replaced by an updated clicker tool — the i>clicker.
The new i>clicker system has been in a pilot phase since 2008 with three faculty members and four GSIs participating in the program. Faculty response to the i>clicker was overwhelmingly positive, according to Lynne Crandall, manager of Instructional Technology Consulting at the University’s Instructional Support Services.
In an e-mail interview, Crandall wrote that of the 36 faculty members who used either the i>clicker or the Qwizdom during Fall 2009, Winter 2010 and Spring 2010, 26 expressed an interest in moving to the i>Clicker.
Among the remaining faculty members, eight did not respond, one reported no opinion and another was unsure if any student response system ought to be used in the future.
“The i>clicker system is certainly more robust, has a faster learning curve on both the faculty and student side and is more flexible,” wrote Brenda Gunderson, a professor in the Department of Statistics, in an e-mail interview.
Instead of being forced to follow a linear PowerPoint presentation-style structure, as was the case with the Quizdom remote, professors can use the i>clicker when discussing movie content, Internet content and other images, while still using question prompts — a feature, that according to Crandall, “translates into a richer learning experience for students.”
Physics Prof. Gus Evrard said the i>clicker is also more user-friendly than its predecessor.
“The interface for students and faculty is infinitely better,” Evrard said.
In the past, students using Qwizdom were required to type in their student identification number and class code at the beginning of lectures, Evrard said. The i>clicker remote, however, requires students to register only once online which creates “less of a hassle to get going,” he added.
“For faculty, the i>clicker takes no more preparatory time than constructing a good question,” Crandall said. “Students with clicker devices register on CTools once per academic year, then in class all they need to do is turn the clicker on and select the answer they think is best.”
Students also can use any Wi-Fi enabled device to answer prompts by visiting the i>clicker website and respond in the same way as using a regular clicker.
Like the surveyed faculty members, students have also responded positively to the i>clicker remote system.
According to data provided by Crandall, of the 385 students enrolled in the five pilot courses, 204 students preferred the i>clicker to the Qwizdom remotes, with only 21 students choosing the Qwizdom remote.
LSA sophomore Alex Ayres, said he is one of those students in support of the new classroom device.
“It’s much easier to answer questions with the i>clicker system,” Ayers said. “I also like the fact that professors can use question prompts and still include interesting videos in their lectures.”
Ayres added that he brings his computer to class and is able to answer questions via i>clicker’s website, rather than having to remember his remote before every class.
“It’s very progressive in that it decreases the amount of plastic used for the remotes,” he said. “It has a web browser built in so that any student with a smartphone or laptop already has it.”
The i>clicker was developed by Timothy Stelzer at the University of Illinois. Stelzer visited the University campus twice to give a demonstration of the remote and to give workshops on models and best practices for using the response system during lecture.
The University has had a contract with Qwizdom since 2007, putting the device into use in numerous classrooms across campus. Crandall said Qwizdom has long suffered from technical issues.
“Faculty and students experienced numerous problems and expressed ongoing frustration due to unreliable data collection and software performance, an unintuitive interface and quiz building process, and long load times under the Vista OS,” Crandall wrote. “We could not in good conscience allow these problems to continue without at least exploring possible options which might be more successful.
“Many students expressed dissatisfaction with the way that Qwizdom was used in class, calling it an expensive attendance-taking device,” Crandall continued.
Crandall said student input was therefore sought from the outset of the pilot phase.
“ISS gave a presentation to a full LSA Student Government meeting, which explained that alternatives were being explored because of data unreliability, technical problems and software compatibility issues,” Crandall wrote in the e-mail.
Student views were included in the evaluation criteria and during the evaluation process.
For students concerned about the cost of purchasing a new clicker device, LSA and the College of Engineering are subsidizing a trade-in of Qwizdom devices for the new i>clicker. The discounted price of $15 will be available only through Oct. 1 for this academic year.
Students can purchase the i>clicker at the Computer Showcase and at several satellite locations in the Union and League during the first few weeks of classes.