Our View: Professors must make clickers worth the cost

This semester, freshmen made a $45 investment in a device commonly known as a “clicker” as part of their school supply requirements.

A clicker sends a student’s response to a professor’s question through radio frequency signals to a computer, which can display the result immediately. It basically works like a remote control.

Administrators argue this technology – which some professors have been using at Kent State for nearly a decade – benefits the students’ learning experience by engaging them more in class. Students enrolled in large lecture classes are often shy to answer questions asked by instructors. With clickers in the classroom, students do not have to raise their hand; they simply have to press a button.

Some professors have chosen to use the device as means to take attendance.

Already having spent $200 on average for books, an extra $45 can be excessive for a college student. Yet, now that each freshman carries a clicker to class, it is time for faculty members and administrators to make the investment worth it.

We have all wasted at least 10 minutes in a given class while a professor tried to figure out how to connect a laptop to a projector or how to fix the audio in the room. If the given class was scheduled for 50 minutes, the net time of teaching was reduced to 40 minutes. Now, if we add to the equation the amount of time a professor may lose trying to operate the clicker’s system, we may end up with only 35 minutes of actual class.

If students are expected to bring a clicker to class, professors should be familiar with the operation of the device. When clickers were presented at the Faculty Senate meeting in February, senators were told workshops on the usage of the devices would be available. A professor’s afternoon spent at the Faculty Professional Development Center to learn how to use a clicker can make a difference in students’ class experience.

If professors used the device to survey the students the first week of classes, they should do the same the last week of classes. Use of the clickers should not wear off during the course of the semester.

The university’s path toward a learning-center approach to education, in which understanding concepts is a priority over memorizing and covering a syllabus, can certainly improve a student’s college years. A piece of plastic, however, won’t impact a student’s life after graduation if other learning innovations such as improvements on the Liberal Education Requirements don’t take place.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.