Clickers are devices that allow students (or any audience) to interact with a teacher (or presenter). There are many different kinds, but Ohio State has settled on one brand for consistency. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how these devices might be used in an ESL classroom.
One way I would like to use them would be to poll my grammar students about the difficulty of the material we are covering. Often when I ask if they understand, I am greeted by blank stares. Are these this-is-sooo-easy stares, or I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about stares? I can’t always tell. Clickers might tell me.
During class, students clould indicate via clicker if I should A) speed up, B) keep this pace, or C) slow down. Three bars (A, B, C) could grow or shrink depending on their latest response. These bars could appear in the corner of the screen at the front of the class or only on my laptop screen. I could then pace my class accordingly.
Maybe this is overkill in a small grammar class like mine, but the immediate feedback would be welcome (especially since students are not always very forthcoming with this information on their own.) Of course, pop quizzes, groupwork responses, and more are possible. Data submitted via clicker can also be compiled and analyzed very thoroughly, if necessary.
Finally, as with all new technology, the question remains: Is it worth it? The cost in and money ($20-40 per clicker) time to set up is not insignificant. And new technologies (Twittering via cell phone, for example) may soon replace this proprietary hardware. But the availability of this kind of interaction raises some interesting possiblities.