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Brad DeLong provides the following instruction to new students in his Econ 1 class:

Given the benefits to your grade you will definitely want to acquire an i>clicker. Everyone is expected to have one and bring it to every lecture (including the first one). You can find new or used clickers online (at, say, Amazon.com) or locally at the ASUC Bookstore or Ned’s. They can be used for other courses for the duration of your time at Cal, and they can also be sold back at the conclusion of the semester. Once you purchase a clicker, register it at http://www.iclicker.com/registration/ with your name and 8-digit student ID.

Huh? You need to have a clicker to take classes at Cal? Do students make clicking noises if they don’t understand what the lecturer is saying? Click instead of raising their hand to ask a question? Tap out morse code? Or what?

None of the above. According to iclicker.com, i>clicker is an audience response system that “allows students to instantly provide feedback and answer questions posed by their instructors.” It works like this:

  • Each student uses a “clicker,” a portable, handheld device that allows students to vote by “clicking” on the appropriate button for his/her choice.
  • Instructors present a question and enable polling. Each student responds by “clicking” the appropriate button for his or her choice.
  • The instructor can then display voting results in a graph, to the audience. The results are also available for later analysis, grading, and exporting to any gradebook software or course management system.

Amazing. I’d never heard of this before today, which makes me feel really old. What’s next? Classes taught by robots? Flying cars? Electricity too cheap to meter? The mind reels.

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