The Un-Clicker

crossed out clicker

Low-tech, real-time student assessment on the cheap

$14.99, plus tax, will fund a 32-student, personal response system.  No wires to set up… no complicated software… no pressure to convert your classroom Q&A to multiple choice format…

One might say, “The inventor of the system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not the greatest benefactors of mankind,” but then one might realize that this is a quote from 1841 about the inventor of the chalkboard.

But, if all you need from a clicker system is the ability to ask students questions and have them immediately give you their answers, what is simpler than a personal chalkboard?  Well, OK, we have improved a little since 1841, so let’s replace that with a personal whiteboard.

Remove the ability to check individual student attendance and track student progress throughout a class or semester, which is the main (and not to be ignored) techno-benefit from an electronic clicker system, and a square foot piece of whiteboard might have a strong edge on the clicker system when it comes to student interaction and capabilities.

How it works:

  • Go to a hardware store.  Let’s say… Sutherland’s.
  • Find the aisle where unusual “lumber” like pegboard lives.  Let’s say… aisle 37.
  • Find a 4’x8’ sheet of 1/8” thick “tile board.”  Let’s say… 3/4 of the way down the aisle, on the left side, ground level.tile board
  • Cut it into 32 square-foot pieces.  Or, maybe 16 pieces that are 1ft x 2ft.  Whatever floats your boat.  (For a fee that I didn’t think to check while I was there, Sutherlands might be able to cut it for you.)
  • Bring dry-erase markers to your class, or have students bring their own.
  • Ask questions.  Have students write and present answers.  Give feedback.
    • Sketch a diagram of ________.
    • What style of writing is this?
    • Sketch a graph of what you think will happen if _______.
    • Correctly conjugate this French word.
  • Amaze your colleagues with the types of interaction your class has, now that students are more visibly sharing answers, debating points, and explaining thought processes.

See an example of (larger) student whiteboards being used in a physics course to engage students and increase the quality of their discussions:


2 thoughts on “The Un-Clicker

  1. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A couple of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any solutions to help fix this problem?

  2. I haven’t been told of any browser problems, which is good because I know very little about programming. I just use one of the WordPress themes and hope everything works out ok.

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