Clickers are also called audience response devices. They are part of an audience response system that uses a student-held physical remote (the actual clicker device), an instructor’s receiver, and specialized software that allows you to collect student responses to clicker questions and then display those responses via the projection system in your classroom. At Bucknell, we use the iClicker2 model of student remote and the iClicker Cloud version of the clicker software.
For pedagogical advice on using clickers successfully, see this related blog post.
If you are using clickers for your course(s) this semester, we have the following advice for how to prepare for your first clicker use:
- If you haven’t already, you need to pick up an instructor’s kit from the Equipment Desk in the Library. We loan out the kit (receiver plus instructor’s clicker) to you for the semester. If you filled out the clicker interest form, then your name will be on the list of faculty members using clickers this semester, although you might want to call the Equipment Desk first before you stop by so that your kit will be ready for you: 570-577-7733 (or just 7-7733 from on-campus).
- You’ll need to download the most recent version of the iClicker Classic software from this page: https://www.iclicker.com/downloads/iclicker-classic. If you will be using a notebook computer when you teach, you can just download and extract the software to your hard drive and run it from there. If you will be using one of our instructor’s computers in your classroom(s), you can copy the extracted software to your "private" folder on your "U" drive on Netspace, and run the software from there. Please email us for support if you are not sure which option is best.
- Once you have extracted the software to the proper location on your computer, you’ll need to launch the software and create a new course. iClicker will ask you to register the software. (There is no cost.) We recommend that you plug in your iClicker receiver (that you borrowed from the Equipment Desk) to a USB port on your computer before launching the software, because you’ll need to change the settings for your course.
After you plug in the receiver and launch the software, you’ll be taken to the opening iClicker screen. Click on the "+ Create" button in the bottom-left corner of your screen to create a course that you will use for the semester:
- Enter a name for your course, and click on the "Create" button:
- Because most of the clickers have been loaned out previously, the clickers will have a two-letter frequency code in them, based on whatever code the faculty member chose (in iClicker settings) last semester. Students see that two-letter code when they first turn on the clickers. After you create your class, you’ll need to modify its settings to choose a particular frequency code (among other settings). Click on the Settings icon near the bottom of the window:
- The "Frequency code" setting is on the General tab (the first section you will see). Click in the radio buttons to choose a code other than the default AA value. Please write down (or remember) the frequency code you selected, because you’ll need your students to choose the same code the first time that they use the clicker in class. Students choose the code by holding down the power button until a "SET FREQ" screen appears. If your receiver is plugged in and you have started a session, the students will be able to change their code by typing in the same two-letter combination that you chose among these General settings. The clicker will display a check mark if the students select the same two-letter frequency that the base station is using. If you plan to use the blue instructor’s clicker to control the clicker software, you’ll need to enter into the "Instructor Remote ID" field the eight-character bar code number on the back of the instructor’s clicker, at the bottom, just above the battery compartment:
- You’ll next want to click on the "Toolbar" tab to change the way the timer works once you launch a question. We recommend that you have the timer count down from 30 seconds (as the default setting), so that students have sufficient time to respond to the question without wasting time in class. You can always add/remove time once you’ve launched a question in class:
- The last section you’ll need to change are the "Scoring" settings. Click on the Scoring tab. At this point, you’ll need to decide how you will include clicker participation in your overall course grade. iClicker allows you to have "Participation points," so that students get a point (or more) if they respond to a specified percentage of the questions asked. iClicker also gives "Performance points," which allows you to set a value for a correct answer. The default settings are one point for responding to 3/4 of the questions asked and one point for each correct answer. You can modify those settings based on your own preferences. Many faculty members use the clicker scores as part of a course "participation" grade, and they tell students that they will drop the lowest few scores, so that students don’t feel penalized on days when they are absent or forget to bring along their clicker. Once you have chosen your grading settings for a particular clicker session, click on the "Save" button:
- We have not included any direct integration with Moodle, so you will need to download session data periodically from the iClicker gradebook and enter it into the Moodle Gradebook manually (if you are counting the iClicker scores as part of the overall course grade). Your course rosters will be a simple text file called roster.txt, which will need to be placed in the Classes folder in the sub-folder that was created when you first created your class using the iClicker software. The file is a simple CSV text file, with each student listed on a separate line as follows: Lastname, Firstname, Username. (You want a single space after each comma.) The simplest way to generate that roster.txt file is to do it from Banner Web, using the Custom Class Roster link. You should see all the courses you are teaching this semester. You click on the appropriate CRN and then choose the appropriate fields for the CSV file (Student Last Name, Student First Name, Username). Click on the Save Format check box so that Banner Web remembers those fields, and then click on Create Class Roster to generate the roster:
- The roster file generated will be a CSV file that often opens (by default) in Excel. You will most likely need to edit the downloaded file slightly, which is best done in a text editing program rather than in Excel, adding spaces after the commas separating the fields, deleting any quotation marks, and removing the initial header line.
- After you have modified the CSV file, the simplest way to add that information to your iClicker roster is to open the default roster.txt file that was created when you first created a class in the iClicker software. You can find the roster.txt file in the appropriate sub-folder of the "Classes" folder for each course in which you are using the clickers. In other words, use Windows Explorer to navigate to where you initially saved the iclicker software, then open the Classes folder, then open the folder whose name should match the course name you typed in for Step 5 of these instructions. Once you open the roster.txt file in your preferred text editor, you can copy and paste the actual student information in place of the Tim Steltzer line in that original roster.txt file:
Once you have added your actual students into that roster.txt file, remember to save your changes before closing out that file.
- Students will register their clickers using the Roll Call Registration method in class. You launch that Roll Call Registration by starting a session and clicking on the gear icon in the small iClicker toolbar. (Students need to have already updated their frequency code for this to work.)
Assuming that you have modified your roster.txt file to add the names of your current students, the software will display tiles listing the students’ names (last name in bold face) and a two- or three-letter code. Students need to press those buttons on their clicker very slowly in order to register their clicker. For example, if a student’s registration code is DE, s/he should press the D key on the clicker, wait two seconds, and press the E key. If the student presses the buttons too quickly, the receiver won’t register their clicker properly. When students have finished registering their clickers, you click the "Close" button so that iClicker saves those changes.
Students who weren’t in class on that “Roll Call Registration” day can come to your office, and you can use the “Loan clicker” option (also a link from the gear icon – see the figure just above) to assign a clicker ID to a particular student.
When you launch PowerPoint to display your lecture slides, make sure that you do not use "Presenter View." Presenter View displays only your slideshow on the room projection system, which means that students will not see the countdown timer or the results chart. When you are about to present your slides, click on the Slide Show tab in PowerPoint, and de-select "Use Presenter View" before clicking on the "From Beginning" button to begin your lecture:
- When you click on the chart icon in the iClicker toolbar to show the results to your students, that window becomes the active window on the instructor’s computer, and PowerPoint remains in the background even when you close out that results window. In order to advance to your next slide to continue your lecture, you need to click in the PowerPoint window again to make that the active window.
For additional information or assistance, please contact Leslie Harris at 570.577.1461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keywords: clickers, iClicker, setup, settings