This question is actually not a new one. Clickers have been in decline in recent years as online options have changed. But the topic came up recently as I worked with a few teachers in setting up a classroom for use with student response clickers. The question came up as to whether student response systems were worth the time or if mobile solutions were better.
For those of you that may or may not remember, for years, eInstruction, Renaissance Learning, and Smart Response among others, flooded the market with Student Response Systems. These systems consisted of a computer program in which the teacher could create and deploy test and review questions that students could respond to using hand held clickers. Of course this was not a new idea as it had been around for years. These companies had just gotten into the business of perfecting and selling the idea, which was a good one.
Flash forward a few years, and teachers started to see the emergence of free options that allowed students to use mobile devices to respond and interact with classroom content. Some of the following may ring a bell:
Now Google has gotten into the mix in several ways.
Google Forms - You can use Google Forms as an effective quiz or testing tool by adding on a few Scripts or AddOns. Create a Form and instead of form or survey questions, use test questions. As students fill in your form, responses are collected in a Google Sheet. Add-ons such as Flubaroo and SuperQuiz can be used to grade the results.
Google Chrome Apps - The Chrome Store has a whole host of Apps that can be used for student response, including Socrative Teacher & Socrative Student , Nearpod , ExitTicket, and VirtualClicker. While some of these require that you have a teacher account, many of them are free.
What does this mean to the classroom teacher who can't afford to buy an expensive set of clickers? If you are in a school that has gone 1:1, or you have a checkout lab or iPad cart, these online solutions allow you to create and deploy tests in your classroom for free. Free is definitely good in my book. Plus if you use Google Forms, you could create quizzes or exit ticket questions to go with videos for the Flipped Classroom.
Whatever situation you are in, we are now in an educational age where free technology is closer to our grasp than ever. Make use of it in any way you can to further your educational goals. Just remember that technology is the tool, not the main focus. We need to work hard as educators to help students learn that there are several tools out there to help them achieve their goals.