Today was more about networking and visiting vendor booths (including Qwizdom, eInstruction, and SMART Technologies) than attending sessions.  Here are a few clickers-related highlights…

  • I got a chance to talk some more with the folks from Abilene Christian University (George Saltsman, Kyle Dickson, and Bill Rankin) about their iPhone initiative.  One idea we discussed for free-response questions was to have students respond to a free-response question, then push the list of student responses back to the students in some fashion so that each student has an electronic version of the list of ideas generated by the whole class.  Then students, individually or in groups, could start working with that list, grouping, prioritizing, exploring the ideas on the list.  Imagine having the sociology majors in an interdisciplinary course turn the list of student suggestions into a concept map, while also having the history majors and biology majors in the same class generate their own concept maps, then discussing similarities and differences in the various maps.
  • I ran into Kevin Yee of the University of Central Florida.  He’s working with an undergraduate student on a project exploring the use of clicker questions trees.  With question trees, instructors design a set of branching clicker questions.  The responses to a given question determine which of several possible clicker questions are asked next.  If you’re about my age (as Kevin is), you can think of these as “Choose Your Own Adventure” clicker questions.  (I’ve tried using the CYOA metaphor in clickers workshops in the past, but apparently, if you’re not about my age, it really doesn’t mean anything!)  I haven’t found many people using clickers in this way, so I was glad to hear that Kevin is engaged in this kind of project.
  • Here’s another interesting use of clickers.  Peter Saunders of Oregon State University told me that he once observed an art history professor using clickers to help students develop critical thinking skills.  She had a matrix with artistic movements along the top and elements of a painting (type of brush stroke, etc.) running down the side.  She would show her students a painting and ask her students who the painter was, what movement the painting belonged to, and what elements (brush stroke, etc.) they used to determine the movement.  All of these questions were clicker questions, and she used them to help her students better understand how experts analyze paintings.  This activity struck me as very appropriate for the discipline and for the use of clickers.

That’s it for today.  There were several other topics that come up repeatedly throughout the day, especially learning space design and the UMW Blogs project, but I thought I would keep the focus here on classroom response systems!

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