Encouraging all learners to be involved in every lesson is of importance to all teachers, using interactive response systems in the classroom does just that! It integrates information technology in the everyday classroom task, and encourages active involvement from the learners.
The response system technology is often sold to teachers as an assessment tool I really like to use it as a teaching and learning tool, asking learners questions throughout the lesson. The advantage is you, as the teacher, know if your children are understanding what you are saying as you progress through the lesson. No need to wait for a test or for when you mark their books. The response system data provides you with the answers to the questions instantly, portrayed as a graph, and you can decide whether the information should be re-taught or whether you can continue teaching the concept further. It is such an exciting way to teach!
These tools can also be used to encourage critical thinking, depending on the types of questions you pose. Even though the choices are mainly 'True / False', 'Multiple Choice', the children can also record answers with text responses (limited number of characters) and numbers. Plan the types of questions you would ask, and move away from just using knowledge and recall questions. Ask questions that make the children think, encourage them to engage and interact with others to find the correct answer.
They could be used to promote collaborative learning among the students, for example, the children could be placed in small groups, each child could still have response system, the question is posed, and the group needs to find the answer by solving a problem. One child is selected as the final answer child, while the other children may use their devices to check if their answer is correct, before the final submission. The individual interactive response remotes' instant feedback feature encouraged discussion, collaborative learning and promoted critical debate among learners when the questions posed were at a higher level of critical thinking.
These systems are easy for teachers to use in the classroom, each child's response is linked to his / her name or a student number on the system. The majority of questions that are asked can be marked by the programme, therefore saving you time, but also giving you instant information about the learner's individual progress. Many of the new response systems allow questions to be generated and added easily during a lesson! A record of each child's results can be viewed after the lesson. One-on-one chats can be held with the children to discuss areas of difficultly or to congratulate them on their achievements during the lesson.
As teachers, we are continually looking for ways to assist us in the classroom and improve our teaching and the children's learning, individual interactive response technology provides a solution, and would benefit anyone looking for an ICT solution, where every learner has to get involved and participate in every lesson, and the computer records the results of each individual learner to each question that is asked. There are many versions and options of devices: small individual hand-held remotes, or the use of software or applications to use on cell-phones or tablets.
I have used this technology successful with young, Foundation Phase children, as well as older Primary school children. In fact the children would ask where the "clickers" were when they were not being used. A friend of mine uses it for her university students, commenting on the positive responses from the students and the increased attendance for her lessons, when the response system connects to the system, a register is generated, and this is used for the class.
Response systems are practical and useful tools to add to ones teaching and learning environment, encouraging all learners to be involved throughout an entire lesson.