Open Letter Regarding Faculty Spamming by a Response System Vendor
Introduction | Targeting Professors | Cease and Desist | What about web-based clickers? | Technology Transition Process
OSU Clicker Transition
TAC led a transition process in 2010-2011 which led to the adoption of Turning as our centrally supported clicker system. Since that transition the usage of clickers by faculty has increased 300+%. We support more than 100 faculty teaching about 350 sections this year and more than a dozen Extension stations. We have placed 300 mini-clickers with Student Multimedia Services for OSU community members to use in non-classroom settings such as conference presentations and research. We are upgrading to a new version of the Turning software and will be able to support a wider range of capabilities. More than 15,000 students own and use Turning clickers at OSU. It is clear why other vendors are eager to gain a foot hold at OSU.
When we made the transition to Turning in 2012 I personally responded to dozens of students who had legitimate objections to bearing additional cost. My explanation is that the system we had before Fall 2012 introduced a new student remote that was $15 more base-price. That would have resulted in a $75 remote that 10,000 students would need to purchase as replacement. In response we opened an investigation which resulted in a $40 base-price remote in a system that is far more versatile and reliable; Turning. I asserted to students that keeping their technology costs down is a priority and promised we would seek to protect their clicker investment by steering clear of avoidable costs. That means staying the course with the current system so long as it remains relevant and reliable. We managed our prior clicker system for seven years. I intend to get at least ten years out of Turning, given that the company keeps pace with the technological curve and maintains price consistency. We have a strong relationship with the vendor and have had influence on feature development. Documentation of our clicker assessment is available. http://oregonstate.edu/tac/clicker-assessment
Students do not care which response system we use. They want a single, consistent, reliable, affordable solution. In 20041 surveyed 5,000 students and found that 12 different clicker systems were in use on campus. Some students had purchased up to 7 remotes, most used in only one class. The market at that time was being driven then by publishers who bundled clicker systems with books. We responded by investigating and introducing a centrally supported system to which all of the clicker-using faculty migrated. Our 2011-2012 transition has evidenced similar solidarity. I track developments in this area and attest that the clicker world is not so variable in functionality to warrant the cost to students of supporting multiple systems. Students justifiably do not want to purchase multiple devices for different courses that serve the same function.
Most OSU faculty are not brand-specific; instructors want a easy-to-use, reliable, powerful, well-supported clicker system that meets their pedagogical needs. An effective system for OSU strikes a balance of these factors. Several math and science instructors, for instance, use clickers to post and compare student solutions to problems. This requires numerical entry to several decimal places. Turning works well for this pedagogical model. There is a quality clicker system that offers simplicity by framing all questions as multiple-choice. It is a good system and I stay in touch with the vendor, but it will not serve the numerical response pedagogy, and others, in use at OSU.
In good spirit,
Jon Louis Dorbolo, Associate Director
Technology Across the Curriculum
These are factual metrics only. I do not base the value of an instructional technology on the degree of adoption, but rather on its effectiveness for teaching and learning. TAC does not promote technology use; we promote quality outcomes.
Rick Brand (Media Services) deftly led that effort in 2003-2005.