Thursday, April 02, 2009

Clickers in the Early Grades

Regular readers of OOTJ may recall prior blogs about use of clickers in my Advanced Legal Research class. I used them extensively during the first semester, but found that they took a lot of class time. The students loved the exercises, but I was unsure how much bang I was actually getting for the buck. This semester, I have cut back on using clickers. I now create a review exercise using clickers at the end of each unit of the course, and find that the technology is very useful for this purpose. The hard part, of course, is creating questions that will help the students pull concepts together and spark classroom discussion. But that was true before clickers and is not a function of the technology.

My eye was caught by this article from today's Boston Globe which describes the use of clickers in kindergarten through high school in at least fifty school systems across Massachusetts. Both teachers and students comment on the "excitement" the clickers bring to the classroom, but other educators "say schools school proceed with caution ... because the remotes ... risk becoming gimmicks if used for simplistic quizzes and games."

That controversy notwithstanding, what is interesting to me is the fact that these students, who are growing up with clickers, will be sitting in our law school classrooms in a few years with expectations about the use of technology. It reminds me of students bringing their laptops to law school and finding that little use is made of the laptop in the classroom other than to facilitate students' notetaking, and even this is controversial--there is some concern that some students are turning into scribes rather than active participants in classroom discussions. Hence, the laptop bans at a number of schools.

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