Sunday, May 18, 2008

Using SRS with PowerPoint and Smart Board makes technology work for you

Recently, I had the opportunity to experiment with the Student Response System (SRS), or the Clickers, as it is commonly called. This emerging technology of classroom management and Response system is relatively new. However, teachers and students can already take advantage of its very promising benefits.

Three of the advantages of the Student Response System (SRS):
1) It is quite common for Limudei Kodesh teachers, in Montreal’s Jewish Day Schools, to have heterogenic groups of students, with different levels of Hebrew and Judaic knowledge, in the same classroom. Hence, I sometimes wished I could have an in-hand assessment tool to immediately acquire a precise and reliable indication of whether or not a discussed point was well understood by all present students, so that confusion can be clarified quickly. Fortunately, the Student Response System (SRS) was designed to do just that in real time. The SRS facilitates class discussion by polling students' opinions and discussing the reasons for their opinions.

2) It is known that each classroom has its particular learning dynamic and social structure. Every classroom is also recognized by the number of its shy learners, indifferent students and those physically present while their minds are absorbed in external matters. The Classroom Response System (SRS) actually forces the withdrawing students to be active. It diminishes their indifference, pulls them back into the learning wagon and provides a safe way for shy students to participate.

3) When asked about integrating technology into their teaching, teachers too often point out three difficulties. They need time to learn the new technology. Once acquired, they have to invest hours to prepare their lesson. Finally, they don’t always consider the results worthwhile, in comparison to their traditional way of teaching. Although a variety of Classroom Response Systems could be found on the market, SRS developers from the Turning Point Company seem to have addressed these three concerns.

Instead of a stand-alone program, the Turning Point Student Response System uses Microsoft Office PowerPoint as its platform, integrating itself into it as an add-on. Since most teachers already know PowerPoint, the need to learn a new program is eliminated.

The Turning Point SRS comes with ready-to-use slide templates, based on modular items architecture. This utility saves teachers a lot of time when preparing a presentation, and helps them choose only elements they want to incorporate into their lesson.The SRS is specially designed to allow teachers to ask questions, gather students’ responses in matters of seconds and visually present the findings, to all or in private.

This function of the SRS in itself has a clear advantage over the traditional way of teaching by its ability to test, on the spot, the skills learned during the lesson. In addition, the SRS is built to check and collect class quizzes, mark each student’s answers and help teachers manage their class. Undoubtedly, the SRS makes teaching more effective and significantly decreases grading time, as revealed by my experiment with Turning Point’s SRS technology.

How does a Class Response System work?

Three components are needed to make this technology work: the Clicker, the Receiver (the two hardware pieces) and the program Turning Point (the software).

A) The Clicker device is actually a smart card, a little bigger than a credit card. Each student receives one clicker to send in his / her input. Since each Clicker has a unique identification code, every student is identified on the class list by association with the unique code of his / her clicker.

B) The receiver is a USB device, as small as a memory stick. This smart card collects the data from the clickers and communicates with the computer to transmit and screen the results.

C) The Turning Point supporting software runs the presentation, computes the data and communicates with other programs (such as Excel, Word) for the purposes of generating a variety of reports that can be printed.

Specially-designed PowerPoint presentations:

To take full advantage of the SRS technology, a teacher must first create or open an existing PowerPoint presentation. He then needs to incorporate into it slides from the add-on Turning Point program. While running the slides of this specially-designed PowerPoint presentation, the teacher poses a question. Students choose the correct answer from the paused slide and push the appropriate button on their clickers to submit their data (radio frequency based control transmission is now standard practice in SRS, as it has replaced the limited range infra-red mode). Summaries of the collected student responses can be shown in real time to both teacher and students.

Hebrew support for the Student Response System:
Turning Point, the program used in this experiment, is fully integrated with PowerPoint. Judaic Studies teachers using the Hebrew language have full support, even though slight imperfections may appear. However, standalone Student Response Systems, such as the SmartBoard integrated Senteo device, will provide Hebrew support proportionally to the capability of the main platform.

The cost:
(Different models of clickers exist in the market. Some have extended capabilities, such as an LCD monitor and additional buttons to flip back and forth during tests. The prices below are approximations for the basic Turning Point RF model).
Each clicker costs approximately $50 + tax. The receiver costs approximately $200 + tax. The software is free.
Thus, for a typical classroom of 25 students, the clickers will cost approximately $1450 + tax.
Any computer, running on Windows XP and using Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007, can serve as the presenting computer.
Any LCD projector, hooked to the presenting computer, can run the presentation.

In conclusion:

The SRS has numerous advantages, such as taking attendance, increasing students' attention, collecting student answers to quizzes and exams, and transforming large group instruction into an active and interactive learning experience. While experimenting with this new technology, students and administrators at Herzliah High School in Montreal recognized its benefits.

1 comment:

Eli said...

Do you think
or the like will replace SRS?