Staff editorial: Clicking into class

Skipping class just got a tad bit harder for more than a half-million students on thousands of college campuses. Or not?

Imagine being assigned a palm-sized, wireless clicker for your classes. Not only would the device clock you in as present when you would walk into class, but you would be required to use numbered buttons on the clicker to answer multiple-choice quizzes.

Preliminary studies at institutions such as Harvard and Ohio State suggest that “engaging students in class through a device as familiar to them as a cellphone – there are even applications that convert iPads and Blackberrys into class-ready clickers – increases their understanding of material that may otherwise be conveyed in traditional lectures.”

Although these new clickers may engage students by preventing them from falling asleep, texting and Web surfing during class, there are several disadvantages to it.

Technology is constantly evolving and shaping our lives, and yes, the classroom is one of the areas where these changes will occur. However, as college students, we sure know how to outsmart technology and work our way around things. And, if we don’t know how, we’ll figure out a way.

What happens when students skip class, but their clickers make it? Meaning, one student can ask another to bring their clicker to class so he or she will not be counted absent. Or, how about when there is a quiz taking place and students just push the same button as their neighbor? These two scenarios demonstrate that using this new device can make cheating simpler and can push students away from attending class knowing that their presence relies on something as silly as a television remote.

With all this in mind, paying 30 to 70 dollars for a clicker on top of how much we pay for books and the use of these clickers does not seem to be the best method for teaching students. However, if teachers require their students to use them and believe they are truly effective, then they should use them knowing the risks that go along with them.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

January 26, 2011


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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