The Tech Launch

This article, also published by EdTech Magazine and co-written by Vanessa Bravo,  specifically details the launch of the Clickers Program (TurningPoint audience response system); however, the phases described can be used as best practices in initiating almost any technology program:

Phase One: Determine Faculty Technology Use & Interest
Phase Two: Cultivate Faculty Buy-In
Phase Three: Training
Phase Four:  Installation/Dissemination
Phase Five: Implementation
Phase Six: Addressing Challenges

TPPepperdine University School of Law uses Turning Technologies’ audience response system TurningPoint (AKA clickers) to poll its students. Since the clicker program’s inauguration in 2012, over one third of the faculty have adopted clickers.

Faculty create questions within PowerPoint. A USB receiver plugged into the computer receives the answer responses submitted by students when they push the answer on their clicker. Results, including the correct answers and bar graphs showing the audience responses, are displayed.

Pepperdine University School of Law’s Manager of Instructional Technology, Vanessa Bravo, initiated the clicker program and cultivated faculty buy-in of the technology’s use. The SOL Information Services team continues to maintain the clickers and make adjustments to the program to address challenges.

Phase One: Determine Faculty Technology Use & Interest

Gather information about faculty’s current use and gauge the level of interest in learning more about clickers.

Phase Two: Cultivate Faculty Buy-In

Develop an engaging and effective Lunch-N-Learn to show how the clickers can be used, and allow faculty to install and use clickers. Invite champions of technology to share their experiences.

Professor Gregory McNeal showed how clickers act as an extension of the hand raise. McNeal stated, “instead of calling on a few students during class, where there’s only a one in 70 chance of being called on without clickers, all students participate. Using clickers forces students to pay attention to content and their notes in order to participate and receive an assessment grade.” McNeal also described how he asks students why they aren’t getting the correct answer and then walks them through the thought process. In some cases, he adjusts his pedagogy to better improve classes. These examples helped faculty to understand clicker usage is not just another technology, but one that can aid student retention.

Stimulate further interest by demonstrating clickers in applicable settings. Pepperdine used clickers during voting meetings; as a result, faculty saw how easy it was to participate in polls.

Recommend clickers as a resolution to classroom challenges such as attendance, student participation, and content review. Faculty may not know how technology is applicable to instruction; therefore, communicating the benefits can cultivate buy-in.

Phase Three: Clicker Training

One-on-one sessions taught faculty how to use the clickers and set up their PowerPoint slides.

Phase Four: Student Clicker Dissemination

Order clickers and disseminate them to students. Students check out clickers from the library.  In addition, a clicker assigned to each new student was placed in the tote bag they received during Orientation. This reduced library traffic and ensured all new students would have clickers on day one.

Phase Five: Implementation
During the first weeks of classes, Information Services was present to help setup and register students’ clickers, which took about 15 minutes per class. By registering their clickers, the professors were able to associate specific students with their answers and take attendance.

Phase Six: Addressing Challenges

Initially, McNeal had students buy their clickers from the bookstore, which caused pushback since students do not pay a technology fee. To resolve this conflict, the Information Services team procured a grant from the Chief Information Officer to “buyback” the clickers. Currently, students are not charged up front for the clicker, but are assessed a fee for unreturned clickers.

Students also didn’t like the clickers because they were judged on attendance even if they forgot it. Students quickly learned that to succeed in the professional world, they would need to ensure they had working tools. Expressing course participation requirements at the start of term in the syllabus mitigates student concerns about attendance.

Originally, faculty had to bring a receiver to plug into the computer and students needed to change their clicker channel accordingly. If a receiver was forgotten or students didn’t remember the channel, responses went unrecorded. Now, a receiver is permanently installed and a sign posted at the front of each room reminds students to change their clicker channel.

Students frequently delayed class by approaching faculty about broken clickers or questions. To limit these questions, students now receive an FAQ card that addresses major concerns.

A concern of faculty was the amount of time registering student clicker at the start of classes. Information Services decided to pre-register the student clickers by adding the identification number to a roster before students check out clickers. The rosters are then saved to each computer before the semester begins.

The effort of Information Services to make clicker usage smooth for faculty coupled with word of mouth promotion from their faculty colleagues have increased the number of users at Pepperdine University School of Law.


About Julie Tausend Burba

Instructional Designer at Hulu, Ed Tech and Project Management enthusiast. MBA Technology Management, MS Management, BS Communications, Traveler and Cook.

Posted on November 5, 2013, in Educational Technology, Instructional Design, Management, Tausend Talks Shop, Teaching Tools, Technology Management and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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