Clickers Help to Promote UWSP Outside of the Classroom

Like many campuses in UW-System, UWSP standardized on a student response system (a.k.a. “clickers”) several years back, leasing clickers to help our students avoid the cost of purchase since there is never a guarantee that a student will have a class that uses clickers each semester.

As a byproduct of our initial “testing” here in the TLRN, we had purchased a case of clickers from TurningTechnologies. Upon adoption of TurningTechnologies as our campus standard we wondered – what to do with our initial test case? We contemplated placing them in our general inventory for lease, but instead, offered our original case of clickers as a “low-risk” way to explore the use of clickers in the classroom, especially for test reviews. We also made our case available to faculty and staff for non-instructional use.

While clickers for test reviews saw little activity, our case of clickers started becoming popular with a few faculty for conference presentations. Eventually, we bought another case of clickers.

We now offer three cases of clickers for check out. Our faculty and staff use them in on- and off-campus workshops and conference presentations, as well as special classroom activities and even student presentations. Each case contains a receiver and we work with faculty and staff to ensure that they have the software installed on the presentation computer and are comfortable with its use.

Our cases of clickers have traveled to presentations and events, not only within the state of Wisconsin but as far away as Florida. One of our instructors recently emailed a request to check out a case for another conference, saying, “Clickers are such a crowd pleaser! And when I’m talking about the power of interactivity, bam! :-)”.

Submitted by Mary Mielke

Tablet Initiative at UW-Stevens Point

At UW-Stevens Point, faculty are helping evaluate tablet computers as teaching tools, and additionally whether a tablet and projector can be used in the classroom to do much of what they would be able to do with a SmartBoard.  

A tablet computer is similar to a regular laptop but additionally allows the user to manually write and draw using the accompanying stylus/pen. The screen can be rotated and then folded down so the tablet flattens and can be held when writing, much as a clipboard or paper notebook would be held. Handwriting can be saved to a document, though handwriting can also be converted to typed text and then inserted where a cursor is placed.

Being able to manually write and draw digitally helps to eliminate some of the barriers instructors face when attempting to translate what they traditionally do in the face-to-face classroom, or with pen and paper, to the online environment.

Outside of the classroom the tablet’s portability also allows instructors to record more in-depth audio and screen-capture explanations of course material, using the tablet stylus to draw symbols and characters. In the office or at home they can download student papers from D2L or from their email, and use the tablet stylus to hand-write comments. Once graded, the graded assignments can then be sent back to the students – no paper needs to be printed.

UWSP’s tablet initiative is offering up to 12 instructors the opportunity to explore the use of a tablet PC for a semester to enhance instructional objectives. 

Examples of how tablets are being used at UWSP:

• In physics, a tablet is being used as a virtual whiteboard in the classroom.
• In foreign languages, special characters, written more fluidly on a tablet, are captured with accompanying instructor audio using Camtasia Relay to provide reviewable segments of class lecture.
• In mathematics, a tablet is being explored to record voice and equations written to the tablet screen to create brief, in-depth explanations of particularly difficult concepts.
• In history, a tablet is being used to grade student papers digitally, using the tablet’s stylus to do editing similar to that done on hard-copy documents.
• In forestry, a tablet is being used to generate notes to construct a tree inventory out in the field.

Tablets are also being introduced on the UWSP campus through the Help Desk’s equipment check out program. Tablets are included in the list of equipment available for up to a two-week check out period.  Their availability helps to slowly introduce this new technology to the UWSP campus.

Submitted by Mary Mielke
UW-Stevens Point