Classical conditioning

When I heard a story on NPR last week about the use of “clickers” to engage students in college classrooms, my opinion of the technology swung wildly: when they teased the story, I thought it was idiotic. “Clickers?” Isn’t that what they use to train pets?

When I heard how they were used in the class, I thought it was brilliant. Students, instead of just passively absorbing content, are forced to interact – primarily through answering multiple choice questions. Answers are then graphed out so the instructor can see what percentage of students is understanding the material. At the end of the story, they go into some detail about the more “advanced” clicker that allows for open-ended responses.

Wha? I’m sorry, that last sentence seems kind of odd to me, seeing as I was able to type it on a laptop, which if you enter a college classroom, everyone seems to have. Which makes me wonder why on earth these developers are trying to reinvent the wheel. Cole Camplese had a post on his blog recently about using Twitter in the classroom. Wouldn’t that be so much simpler (and cheaper) to implement? And wouldn’t it allow you to do more than just pick from a predefined set of answers?

Ah yes, I forgot. The point of higher education is to get students to think, but not too hard. They are, after all, preparing us to enter a challenging world where how far we go in life is determined by how well we answer multiple choice questions.

My mistake. Does this mean I don’t get a treat?


Posted on March 8, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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