More than half a million college students now use wireless devices, or “clickers,” to register class attendance and take quizzes, reports the New York Times. If any of the 70 undergraduates in Prof. Bill White’s “Organizational Behavior” course at Northwestern University are late for class, or not paying attention, he will know without having to scan the lecture hall; their “clickers” will tell him. The devices have altered, perhaps irrevocably, the nap schedules of anyone who might have hoped to catch a few winks in the back row, and made it harder for them to respond to text messages, eMail, and other distractions. In Professor White’s 90-minute class, as in similar classes at Harvard, the University of Arizona, and Vanderbilt, barely 15 minutes pass without his asking students to “grab your clickers” to provide feedback Though some Northwestern students say they resent the potential Big Brother aspect of all this, Jasmine Morris, a senior majoring in industrial engineering, is not one of them. “I actually kind of like it,” Ms. Morris said after a class last week. “It does make you read. It makes you pay attention. It reinforces what you’re supposed to be doing as a student.” Though the technology is relatively new, preliminary studies at Harvard and Ohio State, among other institutions, suggest that engaging students in class through a device as familiar to them as a cell phone increases their understanding of material…

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About the Author:

Denny Carter

Dennis has covered higher education technology since April 2008, having interviewed some of the most recognized IT pros in U.S. colleges and universities. He is always updating eCampus News with the latest in pressing ed-tech issues, such as the growing i