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Mobile devices or traditional clickers? Here’s how to choose

choose wiselyEighty-one percent of Elon students would prefer to use their mobile device than purchase a traditional clicker. That was the feedback we received during the fall 2012 pilot of clickers systems. Several free web-based clicker systems allow students to use their laptop, smartphone or tablet device to respond to questions. Tools like Polleverywhere.com and Socrative.com are popular web clickers being used by some Elon faculty. They work well in many cases, but they do have their limitations.  Typically, we recommend free web-based clickers for occasional, ungraded, anonymous polling.  For everything else, we recommend TurningPoint clickers, the campus standard for traditional, hardware clickers.

Review the following questions to help you determine which clicker will be best for your class. 

1.) Do you ban mobile devices in your class?

  • If so, TurningPoint is your better option because PollEverywhere.com only works on mobile devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets. TurningPoint clickers are handheld single-function devices that only let students respond to your prompts. They aren’t able to check email with the clicker device.

2.) Will you grade your students’ participation or responses with the clickers?

  • If so, TurningPoint is the better option because their software integrates with the Moodle Gradebook.

3.) Would you like to track student responses?

  • If so, TurningPoint is the better option because they make it easy for students to register their device in Moodle.

4.) Will you use clickers regularly?

  • If so, TurningPoint is the better option because the hardware devices don’t rely on student-owned devices, and responses with web-based clickers take longer to appear.

5.) Do you want to use clickers for students to take self-paced quizzes (rather than Scantrons)?

  • If so, TurningPoint hardware clickers are your only option. PollEverywhere.com is not compatible with self-paced quizzes. Socrative does have a self-paced polling option; however, it does not sync with Moodle. For more information on self-paced quizzes, see “I’ve heard clickers can replace Scantrons”.

6.) Do you have more than 40 or 50 students in a class?

  • If so, TurningPoint is the better option because the free accounts of PollEverywhere.com limit responses to 40 students or less. Socrative.com’s free account limit responses to 50 students.

If you answered no to each question, then a free web-based clicker like PollEverywhere.com or Socrative.com may be a good fit for you. If you answered yes to any question, TurningPoint clickers may be a better choice.

Why clickers?

For examples of how Elon faculty have used clickers, or links to research about how clickers aid peer instruction, flipped instruction, and classroom engagement, check out the Technology wiki.

Order clickers

If TurningPoint clickers are the best fit for your class, place your order for the spring with the bookstore now.  Placing orders soon will ensure that students are able to sell their clickers back to the book store. That way, students in the spring will have the option to purchase less expensive, used clickers. For more information about ordering clickers, visit the Technology wiki (look under “How do I order clickers from the bookstore”).

Image via Flickr User Brandon Carpenter / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dan Reis

Dan Reis

Dan Reis is an Instructional Technologist with Elon University’s Teaching and Learning Technologies.

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