Gadgets

How much value does a voting system add to my interactive whiteboard?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 | IWBs | 3 Comments

One of the limitations of an interactive whiteboard is the fact that only one person can work on it at a time.

But this limitation is removed when you add a voting system – also called a response system – to your interactive whiteboard.  Here are a few ways in which a voting system adds value in an interactive classroom:

Each learner is allowed to interact simultaneously through the use of technology – no more passive observers in the classroom.

Assessment becomes an integral part of each session – a lesson can be paused to ask a question to determine if the learners are still with you.  This serves a dual purpose: learners consolidate learning, and you can use the information to direct your teaching in a more effective way.

Anonymous responses make it easier for shy learners to participate – this is particularly useful when asking opinion questions.

If you really want to know how your learners experience your teaching, ask a question such as: “Give me a mark out of 4 for today’s lesson.”  You may be surprised to learn how your learners feel about your lessons!

A big portion of an examination paper in some subjects may be in the form of multiple choice questions.  Learners who have difficulty with this assessment mode gain valuable experience when you use a voting system throughout the year.

Most voting systems provide you with detailed learner response information.  If voting units are assigned to particular learners, you will be able to see the response of each child.  This information can be stored and used to build up a year mark.

The real magic of all of this is that learner response results are available immediately – no more waiting for answer sheets to be collected and no more marking!

Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.

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What is a voting system?

Monday, January 25th, 2010 | IWBs, technology | 5 Comments

A voting system – also called a response system – consists of a set of handheld voting devices, which look like simplified remote control units of a TV set.  Learners in a class receive one of these units each to “vote” or respond to questions put to them by you, their teacher.

The units are called clickers, since input is provided by clicking buttons to select chosen responses.  The clickers are wireless and operate with infrared or radio signals.  Special software installed on your computer receives these signals and interprets them, providing you with information about the way learners respond.

Let’s use an example.  You want to test if learners have done their reading assignment at home, and you display the following question on the interactive whiteboard:

 The legislative capital of South Africa is …

 A   Bloemfontein
 B   Cape Town
 C   Pretoria
 D   Johannesburg

Buttons marked A, B, C, D are on the clicker, and you now ask learners to enter the correct answer.  Each child clicks an answer – the moment the selection is made, the computer receives and records the signal.  The system informs you when all the learners in the class have responded.

Immediately after all responses have been collated, a summary of the responses is available – which you may or may not wish to show to the class.  Let’s say 60% of the class voted for Cape Town: it is now clear to you that not all the learners in the class understand the work, and gives you the opportunity to enter into a discussion with the class to lead them to the correct information.

In addition to multiple choice questions, most voting systems permit true-or-false questions as well.  More sophisticated systems allow numeric and limited text responses, giving you the opportunity to ask other types of questions.

Voting systems can be used without an interactive whiteboard, but the combination of these two technologies provides you with a powerful tool to create an interactive classroom.

Click here for more information about interactive whiteboards.

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Digital finger

Saturday, April 4th, 2009 | Gadgets | 3 Comments

Since the word digit is derived from the Latin word digitus, meaning finger or toe, you may think that the term digital finger is a tautology.  But not so if you refer to the finger of Jerry Jalava, a Finnish software developer.

Jerry crashed into a deer while riding his motorcycle and his left ring finger had to be amputated.  He decided to have a 2GB memory stick imbedded in the prosthetic finger made for him after the operation.

For more pictures, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerry_jalava/sets/72157615074278472/detail/

For more pictures, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerry_jalava/sets/72157615074278472/detail/

There may be unintended consequences to Jerry’s digital finger.

At work his boss can be sure that henceforth he will have a finger in the pie of all software development projects and with a fancy finger like that crossed, nothing can go wrong.  When something slips through the fingers of his team he will be able to lay his finger on the missing piece of code at digital speed.  Nobody will be able to point a finger at him if he keeps this finger on the pulse of his projects.  Even if he is the type of person who works his fingers to the bone, he will never burn the special finger.  Just imagine how many things he can count on the fingers of one hand – considering his 2 GB memory.

When riding his bike again, he probably will be careful not to give motorists the finger.

At home his wife may try to twist him around her little finger but will get angry with him if he does not lift a finger to take out the garbage – she would then probably tell him to pull a finger.

Just imagine what you could do with a digital finger!  No wonder Jerry is already considering an upgrade.

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