We need an open source educational clicker tool.
Educators have long acknowledged that clickers are a fantastic academic tools. They both engage students through a game-like approach (because participation becomes competitive and therefore more fun) and provide a mechanism for instantaneous assessment across a large student population. Clickers also reduce shyness and fear of failure while simultaneously keeping students awake and engaged. Research in the 2007 Educause Quarterly proves that clickers are an active learning tool that creates positive educational outcomes.
But clickers can be expensive. And most schools - particularly K-12 - are already struggling to provide basic supplies and resources. Because most classrooms can’t afford to spend money on interactive learning tools, the students and teachers that could benefit most are left out of this engaging educational activity. In response, we need a mobile application that allows students and teachers to use clicker technology without purchasing expensive proprietary hardware.
One cool company, Socrative founded by the Harvard Ed School grads, allows students to participate in virtual learning spaces live in class through smartphones and laptops with polls, games, and exercises. While their technology is fantastic, it still requires a laptop or smartphone. Meanwhile, a cool open source project from the folks at Code for America, called ClassTalk, affords simple messaging and polling via text messaging.
Because most every student in America has an SMS-capable cell phone, the ClassTalk code could be modified to replicate all of the necessary features of clickers. Best of all, the code would all be open source so ed tech enthusiasts could modify and improve the software for the benefit of everyone.
This Open Source Clicker technology would be useful within and without the classroom. Beyond education, this technology could be used to organize and solicit feedback during political rallies, concerts, or gatherings. It could even enable crowd-sourced deals like Groupon based on the real-time mood of subscribers!
Without ado, let’s harness the new group-messaging movement for educational purposes and the good of society at large.