Review of Classroom Response Systems Complete

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clickersFrom the end of March through mid-April 2016, faculty and staff from Northern Illinois University participated in a review of five classroom response (“clicker”) systems, facilitated by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (for an overview of the process, timeline, and the faculty needs assessment, please see this earlier article). The review was undertaken because of intermittent issues with the current officially recognized and supported clicker system, rapidly changing clicker technology, and the recent increase in adoption of multiple competing clicker systems across campus which potentially forces students to buy more than one device.

However, due to low participation in the review process, any change of systems would not represent perspectives of everyone who uses a clicker system across NIU. The faculty who participated in the review recommended not changing systems at this time, and the Faculty Development Advisory Committee (comprised of faculty across all colleges) concurred with the decision. For the 2016-2017 academic year, Turning Technologies will remain the officially-supported clicker system at NIU.

Whenever possible, faculty are encouraged to use the officially-supported clicker system, to reduce costs to students, increase the value of the purchase they make, and take advantage of student familiarity with a common system. However, there are many factors to consider when adopting technology, so faculty are not required to use the officially-supported system.

When choosing a clicker or student-response system, there are a number of alternatives you may consider to minimize cost to students. First, if your purpose is to increase student engagement as opposed to testing, a physical clicker device may be unnecessary. For Turning Technologies’ clickers, the ResponseWare license is cheaper than the clicker remote and students can participate using their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. In that case, ask the Bookstore to add license cards to the list of recommended materials for your course. Second, if your class is not large, you may be able to use one of several free systems, such as Poll Everywhere (free up to 40 students) or Socrative (free and supports up to 50 students).

If any lingering issues or concerns regarding the use of clickers for instructional purposes arise, please don’t hesitate to contact the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at facdev@niu.edu or 815-753-0595.

NIU to Conduct Review of Classroom Response Systems

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clickersFive years ago, at the request of faculty and teaching staff, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center facilitated a search for classroom response (“clicker”) systems, in order to standardize their use at Northern Illinois University. At the time, some students had been required to buy and use multiple systems as part of their class materials, which faculty and instructors found untenable. At the end of that search, faculty chose Turning Technologies as the officially-recognized clicker system vendor at NIU.

Because of faculty and staff feedback, rapidly changing technology in this sector, as well as the recent adoption of competing clicker systems on campus once again, we surveyed faculty and instructors who have experience using clickers. Of those who responded, the majority (63%) have three of more years of experience with clickers. Check out the infographic below for interesting results that came out of that survey.

Some key findings:

  • Physical Devices: dedicated response devices – clickers – were once the primary tool used for classroom response systems. However, 71% of faculty reported that they currently allow students to use laptops or mobile devices instead of a physical clicker, and 100% reported that they would allow students to do so if it would decrease costs to students.
  • Blackboard Integration: Blackboard integration was considered very important. Currently, 53% of respondents report using the integration, and 74% indicated it is Critical or Important.
  • Multiple Polling Options: Respondents also indicated that they appreciate having multiple options for polling. 74% use polling embedded in PowerPoint, 58% use polling over other applications, and they were both among the top 5 critical features identified in the survey.

NIU clicker use stats 2016

The responses also indicated a strong desire among the faculty to conduct a fresh review of systems, to ensure that NIU uses the system that best suits their and students’ needs, and the Faculty Development Advisory Committee, comprised of faculty representatives from each college, agreed. During March and April, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will be facilitating a new round of product demonstrations and reviews from multiple response system providers. Following the reviews, we will also facilitate group discussions among faculty to determine which product to adopt as the centrally-supported clicker system. The faculty who attend the demonstrations will make a formal recommendation to be presented to the Faculty Development Advisory Committee in April, and implementation would begin in fall 2016.

Product demonstrations will take place from March 22, through April 7. The following vendors will present their products from noon to 1pm on each of the following days. The process is open to faculty, instructors, teaching assistants, or staff members at NIU, and your feedback will be important for guiding the future direction of clicker usage and support at NIU moving forward.

March 22 – Poll Everywhere

March 30 – NIUResponse.com by Chuck Downing

March 31 – Turning Technologies

April 5 – Top Hat

April 7 – i>clicker

If you plan to attend, you may register for one or more of the sessions in our registration system, so that we will have an estimate of how many people will attend, and so that you will receive reminders about the upcoming sessions. However, walk-ins are welcome.

Upgrade Details for TurningPoint Cloud

turningpoint_cloud_logo_200wThis is the second of two announcements about the upgrade the TurningPoint, which is currently planned for the Memorial Day weekend.
Registering a Turning Technologies Account
Once the upgrade occurs, everyone—faculty/staff and students—will need to register an account with Turning Technologies: https://account.turningtechnologies.com/account/user/validateEmail

For faculty and staff who teach with TurningPoint, the account will be necessary for logging into the TurningPoint Cloud desktop software.

For students, the account will be where they enter their physical clicker and/or ResponseWare license information. (It is up to the faculty or staff member teaching the course to decide if the ResponseWare app is an acceptable polling option.) Additionally, they will still need to access the Turning Technologies tool within Blackboard; doing so is what will allow your TurningPoint software to tie their polling grades to the Blackboard Grade Center.

Upgrading TurningPoint Software
By the start of the summer semester, all centrally-managed Smart Classrooms will be updated to TurningPoint Cloud. For those who are used to running TurningPoint off your USB drive or Turning Technologies clicker receiver, you will want to replace it with the new software. For those with older receivers, we have a number of new ones on hand that we can swap for your old one, if you wish; please come see Peter Gowen or Cameron Wills on the third floor of Adams Hall.

If you have registered a Turning Account, you can find the software in the Downloads section on your account page. You can also find the latest software (the version that’s installed in the Smart Classrooms), within the “Download TurningPoint Software” folder in the “TurningPoint Info” section of this Blackboard Community.

**TIP** Back up your session data before the upgrade. As with other student data, it’s always a good idea to make sure you keep a backup of your clicker session data, especially for any of it that wasn’t sent to the Blackboard Grade Center, in case of student appeals.

Requesting Clickers from the Bookstore
If you will be teaching with clickers, please remember to tell the Bookstore. They need to know roughly how many students will be buying clickers, in order to keep enough on hand for sale. Last semester, several classes weren’t listed, and there was a shortage; students had to wait for Turning Technologies to send them their clickers, which may have been disruptive for those faculty/staff who planned on using clickers during the first week of classes.

QT Clicker (1-Year Turning Account) 978-1-934931-52-3 $53.35
QT Clicker (4-Year Turning Account) 978-1-934931-75-2 $73.35
Turning Account (1-Year) 978-1-934931-71-4 $18.80
Turning Account (4-Year) 978-1-934931-73-8 $32.90

Preparing for the First Day of Class
Turning Technologies has a number of resources for the TurningPoint Cloud software, including helpful sample slides that you may want to incorporate in your lectures during the first week of classes: http://www.turningtechnologies.com/best-practices-higher-education/getting-started/turningpoint-cloud

More documentation and tutorials can be found here: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/training-documents/turningpoint-cloud
https://www.turningtechnologies.com/tutorials/turningpoint-cloud

Lastly, Turning Technologies runs weekly online trainings for all aspects of their software: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/online-classes

For further information on the upgrade, please contact Benjamin West from Turning Technologies (bwest@turningtechnologies.com), or get in touch with Peter Gowen (pgowen@niu.edu) or Cameron Wills (cwills@niu.edu) at the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

FAQs

  • Q: Will my Turning Account work across institutions I attend (if I’m a student) or teach at (if I’m a professor)?
  • A: Turning Accounts will work across multiple institutions, and students will only pay to register a new Turning Account once (though they will have to pay the yearly renewal fee, for any year after the first).
  • Q: When TurningPoint is updated, will I be able to use the older software from my USB drive? Will I still be able to upload to Blackboard?
  • A: After the upgrade, the Blackboard integration will no longer be available for older versions of the software. All users on campus will need to install TurningPoint Cloud in order to upload grades to the Blackboard Grade Center and download student class lists to the TurningPoint desktop software.
  • Q: Will my students’ older devices still work with TurningPoint? Will they need to re-license them each year? How?
  • A: Yes. Come Summer 2015, once TurningPoint has been upgraded to the new “cloud” version, new devices (the ones with the single year Turning Account license “bundle”), will be sold to NIU. Any devices that students had previously bought (whether in Spring ’15 or earlier) will need to be registered with a Turning Account, which they can do for a one time fee of $20.
  • Q: After the upgrade, will students be able to sell each other their devices, if those devices are tied to a Turning Account?
  • A: Yes. The receiving student will be able to re-register it, but will have to pay the $20 registration fee to tie it to a new account.
  • Q: Will my current PowerPoint slides I built with TurningPoint still work?
  • A: Yes, you should still be able to open and edit them with the PowerPoint Polling features in TurningPoint Cloud.
  • Q: What happened to the “E-mail unregistered students” link in the Turning Technologies Tool?
  • A: The new module in Blackboard does not include this function any longer. Instead, the new TurningPoint software will display a list of unregistered students after you use the Integration to pull down a Participant List. If there are only a handful of students, you could look up their email addresses within Blackboard or within the NIU Directory, and email them directly. Otherwise, we would recommend informing your class about the necessity of registering their device, either in your face-to-face class, or through a Blackboard Announcement: students receive no credit for their submitted answers (though their data is saved for later) until they register their device.

TurningPoint Cloud to replace TurningPoint 5.3

turningpoint_cloud_logo_200w

TurningPoint is the desktop software used by faculty as part of the student response system (SRS), or “clickers”, to receive immediate feedback from students in class. The current version of TurningPoint, installed across Smart Classrooms at NIU, is 5.3.

TurningPoint will be upgraded at the end of May, after the Spring semester ends and before Summer classes begin. The new version comes with a mix of benefits and costs, which we wanted to make sure you were aware of.

The most obvious change to TurningPoint will be the requirement of registering a Turning Account. Both you and your students will need to create an account with Turning Technologies, which you can do here: https://account.turningtechnologies.com/account/user/validateEmail This will be necessary for you to access the new TurningPoint Cloud (TPC) desktop software. This will also be necessary for your students, in order for them to register their clicker device and/or ResponseWare license.

While an extra step for you and your students, the TurningPoint Account will work with the software to encrypt your clicker session data, making it secure from prying eyes. Noone else will be able to access your data, unless you choose to share it with them!

Turning Technologies is also instituting a new recurring annual fee to students. The up-front cost to students will remain the same for the clicker device at the bookstore (and will now include a license for the ResponseWare app for free, as a “bundle”): about $53. The bundle will include a one-year license for use of the clicker and the ResponseWare app. If a student needs to use either the device or the app after that first year, they will have to buy a 1-year license renewal; they can instead opt to buy a 4-year license renewal, if they anticipate needing the device or app for more than the first couple years, saving them some money over the course of their NIU career. Student financial aid will apply to both the clicker bundle and the license renewal codes at the Bookstore.

Here is a detailed breakdown of costs from the NIU Bookstore:

  • QT Clicker, 1-Year Turning Account, 978-1-934931-52-3, $53.35
  • QT Clicker, 4 Year Turning Account, 978-1-934931-75-2, $73.35
  • Turning Account – 1-Year, 978-1-934931-71-4, $18.80
  • Turning Account – 4-Year, 978-1-934931-73-8, $32.90

 

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will follow up later with information on managing the upgrade process for you and your students. If you have any questions about the upgrade, you can email Benjamin West from Turning Technologies (bwest@turningtechnologies.com) or get in touch with Peter Gowen (pgowen@niu.edu) or Cameron Wills (cwills@niu.edu) at the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

For more information on using clickers at NIU, please visit: http://niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers/index.shtml.

New Clicker Device on Campus

Turning Technologies' full-keyboard "QT" deviceIn Spring 2015, Turning Technologies began selling a new student response system device, their “QT” model. This QT device replaces the previous NXT model that was sold the last few years. The full keyboard on the QT makes providing text-based answers easier, useful for those times when short answer or essay questions are preferred over multiple choice or true/false questions. This makes it easier to use short answer and essay questions for higher-stakes in-class quizzes and exams using clickers.

While the device is different, the cost to students remains the same at the NIU Bookstore. The only necessary change to the existing clicker system is on the faculty side, as the older, grey radio receivers need to be replaced with newer black-and-white receivers. If you are still in need of a new receiver, please contact Peter Gowen (pgowen@niu.edu or 815-753-5882) or Cameron Wills (cwills@niu.edu or 815-753-3239) in the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, and we will get you a more up-to-date Instructor Kit.

The QT device also presages a future update to the TurningPoint desktop software used to create and run polls using the clicker system. More details will follow, as that update draws nearer.

For more information on using clickers in your classroom, please visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers/index.shtml.

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