Open Letter - Honoring Faculty Privacy 2

Open Letter Regarding Faculty Spamming by a Response System Vendor

Introduction | Targeting Professors | Cease and Desist | What about web-based clickers? | Technology Transition Process

Web-App Based Response Systems


Response systems (clickers) developed in the 1960's and have been in use at OSU for about 15 years.  Clickers allow educators to use software to poll students who respond via a remote, either a dedicated device or a mobile device.  Students responses may be immediately viewed as a histogram.  At OSU clickers are used to check learner comprehension, credit class participation, stimulate discussion, solve math problems, take quizzes, and administer exams.

Clicker technology is in constant change and new products enter the market frequently.  In the last year a new educational clicker vendor entered the market and has been recently pursuing OSU faculty buy in.  The new vendor's functional point of distinction consists in being a primarily web-based clicker system.   Most major response system vendors have web-app based clickers; some for several years now.   The centrally supported response system at OSU, Turning has an web-app based clicker that will operate alongside the hardware clickers.  We are investigating this capability and need to overcome some concerns before it becomes a viable option.  My primary concerns are:
- Some classrooms on campus are cell-phone dead zones.

- We do not yet know whether the wireless network can handle 2000 clicker hits simultaneously.

- Some instructors do not allow students to use phones during class.  If the student's phone is their clicker, such a policy creates a conflict.

- Many instructors use clickers to administer quizzes and exams.  With a web app clicker system the student will have Google, Wikipedia, and texting at their fingertips.

- A student may login to the web app from bed to answer questions for attendance credit (just a hypothetical).

These issues are common to many clicker-using schools.  We are working to solve them (if you have ideas, by all means let's have coffee!)  I am working with Turning to develop a bundled remote model in which the hardware remote and web-app remote both come with a single student license which will enable a secure electronic exam environment.  My aim is to increase the capabilities for students and faculty without increasing costs to students while preserving full campus support. I have and will continue to tell Turning management that it is unacceptable to us that the bundle model will be used to increase cost to students. They tell me it is not their plan to do so.  

My window is always open to any faculty, student, or staff member who seeks to explore new options for instructional technologies. TAC underwrites and supports a variety of emerging technology explorations and pilots. One such is the use of a wireless tablet to control and draw on the classroom display. Devon Quick (Zoology) is using this technology with impressive results. We are seeking means to deploy such capabilities across campus.

TAC develops Beaver Island, an immersive environment, that any OSU member is welcome to use and build simulations in http://oregonstate.edu/tac/virtual-worlds.  One of our summer projects is to add gamification to our clicker repertoire via PowerPoint templates based on popular games. The Jeopardy game template is used in several courses (see http://oregonstate.edu/tac/powerpoint-active-learning). Our aim is to develop a template version that works seamlessly with clickers for Jeopardy and other games. We are conducting IRB approved research into clicker effectiveness and advanced pedagogies. TAC is moving forward progressively in concert with the OSU teaching and learning community. Strategies for continual improvement of enterprise-scale systems like clickers is a community process that depends upon careful reflection and planning.

In good spirit,

Jon Louis Dorbolo, Associate Director
Technology Across the Curriculum


_The regional manager told me that they have developed a dedicated hardware clicker as well as their web-app product.

[1]Milo Koretsky (Engineering) and his Concept Warehouse team developed a web-based response system a decade ago. TAC joined with that team to blend Concept Warehouse with the Turning system.