Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Some students across the country are being encouraged to fiddle with their wireless devices during class. But they aren’t texting or checking e-mails, they’re participating in the lecture. The New York Times reports that professors in a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Arizona, are giving their students small wireless clickers to track their attendance, participate in discussion feedback and even answer questions to multiple-choice quizzes. The students’ responses are wirelessly gathered by a computer at the front of the room and can be instantly converted into informational graphics. Some universities require students to buy the clickers on their own – which can cost anywhere from $30 to $70 – while others lend them out to students. Similar programs have been used in smaller classroom settings within K-12 schools like Kentucky’s Campbell County Middle School and in various municipalities’ community meetings from Hampton, Va., to Hidalgo County, Texas.