How do sociology, the Honor Code, sustainability, attendance, IT and $40 come together at the College of William and Mary? The clicker.
For the bulk of students who are not in the three lecture classes now using the infamous clicker, this may be news to you: This gadget became more prevalent on the school supply list at the College this year. The gadget, simply called the clicker, is a pretty impressive device. It allows a student — from the comfort of his or her oh-so-soft and moldly seat — to actively participate in what could be a boring and uneventful lecture class. We’ve all experienced those classes with 50 million people who stop coming as the semester continues — at least until exam time when the hall practically bursts with slackers. While these classes bore us, the administration still mandates that we take those pesky General Education Requirements, and inevitably, we take Introduction to Psychology or Introduction to Microeconomics or some other course we’d like to conveniently forget we ever took after handing in the final exam.
The clicker is going to change that — at least, that’s what we hope. The clicker allows professors to ask questions in class and allows students to immediately respond. After everyone enters their answers, the information can be used to create graphs in class and other types of polling and data sharing can take place. Professor Thomas Linneman of the sociology department uses the clicker for teaching his Introduction to Sociology course. He uses the clicker for sociological experiments in the class, allowing students to see the opinions of their classmates and to draw conclusions from the data.
Professors are also using the clicker to take attendance and give quizzes. This policy relies on the Honor Code. Professors don’t know if you are the person you claim — or in this case ‘click’ — to be. It could be a new opportunity to cheat, but at the College, the professors truly trust students. They believe in the Honor Code and the integrity of the students so much that they trust them to keep their word and not to lie about attendance, cheat on exams or steal a person’s identity.
The slight drawback of the clicker is the $40 price tag that comes with it. It’s unfortunate when you think that you may only use it once. But hey, that’s just like a textbook, right?
The clicker saves time by not having to pass out quizzes or collect them. It also saves paper on which we would print those quizzes or attendance sheets. This technology also forces students to be responsible. Without the clicker, your attendance will not be recorded and you won’t receive a quiz grade, which has already forced some students to sprint from their lecture classes back to their dorms to get the clicker.
The College is over 300 years old, but that doesn’t mean our technology has to be. Furthering technology on campus is exciting, and it may begin with just a simple click.