Last week teacher Lisa Short of Gaithersburg Middle School in Maryland shared her perspectives on educational technology with the education committee of the United States House of Representatives. Education Week covered this presentation, and you can see an eight-minute video of Short’s presentation below. The first half of her presentation is focused on interactive whiteboards. The clickers are demonstrated just after 5 minutes in.
Short’s presentation caught my eye because she demonstrated classroom response system technology to the committee, arguing that the anonymity the system provides her students allows her to more accurate assess their misconceptions and prior knowledge since they can answer her clicker questions honestly without fear of embarrassment in front of their peers.
Short also mentioned that between class sessions, she can see which students miss her questions, providing her useful data with which to evaluate her lessons. For instance, do some students have particular learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile, and so on) that she could address more effectively in future lessons? And if most of her students miss a question, she knows she’ll need to return to that topic in the next class session.
I’m glad that this House committee had a chance to learn about educational technologies like clickers and interactive whiteboards. I wish that Short had mentioned that the results of clicker questions can be used immediately to make teaching choices, not just between classes. The capacity to facilitate such agile teaching is a strength of the technology.
Also, the fact that all of the members of the committee answered her clicker question (about the percent of schools in the US with interactive whiteboards) correctly was a little disappointing, since it meant their was no opportunity to talk about peer instruction. However, that result did set up her punchline effectively–that only 16% of US schools have interactive whiteboards but 70% of UK schools do!