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Clicker Controversy at Johns Hopkins University

Posted by on Friday, September 24, 2010 in News.

According to Inside Higher Ed, some students at Johns Hopkins University are protesting the fees associated with using clickers in their classes. The clicker vendor used at Johns Hopkins, eInstruction, charges not only for the clicker device itself, but also charges an enrollment fee each semester the clicker is used. Over the last few years, while clickers were being piloted at Johns Hopkins, the university picked up these enrollment fees ($13 per student per course or $35 per student for four years) but now that they’ve finished the pilot program, the university is asking students to pay these fees. Some students quickly organized a protest page on Facebook, naturally.

The Inside Higher Ed article quotes CFT assistant director Derek Bruff, who noted in an interview last year that student complaints about the cost of clickers can be common.

Often, student buy-in depends on how their professors are using the devices, Bruff said.

“If an instructor uses clickers only to take attendance or give quizzes, students often object to paying for a device just to make the instructor’s job a little easier,” he said. “If, however, an instructor uses the results of a clicker quiz to review the quiz with the students immediately after they take it, focusing on questions most missed by students and exploring popular incorrect answers, students see this as adding value to their learning experience and are more likely to see the clickers as useful.”

The classroom response system vendor that Vanderbilt uses, Turning Technologies, doesn’t charge enrollment fees like eInstruction does. Instead, students just pay for the hardware up front. Students can purchase clickers at the university bookstore or online through the Turning Technologies store. For more on teaching with clickers at Vanderbilt, see our teaching guide on clickers.

Image courtesy Vanderbilt Photography

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