Montana State University

I>CLICKERS at MSU - the FAQ

FAQ for iClickers (known more generally as “Student Response Systems” or "Personal Response Systems")
Revised Fall 2012

What are they?
Clickers are simple pieces of hardware, about the size of and resembling a TV remote, that allow an instructor to poll students and then display results for a class to see and discuss.

Why use clickers?
Clickers allow you to perform a variety of tasks and formative assessments in a classroom environment. From simply taking attendance, to in-class quizzes, and everything in between. Among other things, clickers allow you to determine “muddiest points”, to engage students in discussion and debate, or to do anonymous polling when teaching controversial topics.

Tools

What clicker system are we using at MSU?
MSU has standardized on the “i>Clicker” system in its classrooms, which consists of a classroom base station, student clickers, an instructor remote, and some easy to use software for instructors. (NOTE that MSU Extension uses a different student response system off-campus, so if you work with Extension you should consult with your IT liaison to determine your best solution.)

How and why were iClickers selected?
To make the adoption of a student response system simpler for faculty, and to prevent students from needing to purchase different clickers for each of their classes, a single system was selected for campuswide adoption.  After carefully reviewing several systems, and carefully considering the feedback from faculty, the decision was made to select the "i>clicker" system.

What do instructors need to get started?
To use i-clicker, you will need to have a computer in the classroom.  This can be a laptop or a permanently installed computer in a smart-cart (software for PC, Mac, and Linux will be available).  Many classrooms at MSU already have a podium with a computer and a base station installed. Most faculty will likely use this system in conjunction with some kind of presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint) but this is not necessary.  
Instructors need an instructor iClicker remote (see contact info below to arrange to get one), the iClicker software, and an iclicker base station. The i-clicker software is not a plug-in and therefore works with any presentation software including web pages (or even the white board).
Instructors may also want to sign up to access the MSU class rolls system in order to facilitate synchronization of student clickers with their class rosters. Information is included below.

What if the classroom I use doesn't have a clicker base station?
You should contact Ritchie Boyd to request a base station (see contact information below). If your classroom has a podium, we will have the base station installed. If there is no podium, we can loan you a base station and you will have to take your own computer.

Where do I get the software and user guides?
You can download the software and documentation from the iClicker company web site, at www.iclicker.com

Where's the best place to install the software?
One of the best things about iClicker is that it doesn't need to be installed on a specific computer - it runs anywhere from a simple executable file. Since you will want to run the application and access your clicker session data both in the classroom and in your office, you should consider loading the software onto a USB flash key, or onto a network share.

What do the students need?
Students only need to have an iClicker remote, available new ($33) or used ($25) from the MSU bookstore. They will also need to register their clickers once every semester on the MSU clicker Web Registration site. See resources below. The same clicker can be used in all classes that use i-clicker and the bookstore purchases used clickers for resale.

Do I need to be using Powerpoint or Desire2Learn in order to use clickers?
No. The iClicker system runs in the background of whatever you are doing on the computer, and allows you to poll students at any time. While including questions into a Powerpoint show could be convenient, it has a “Question on the fly” feature that allows you to create and display a question on the screen whenever you want to solicit feedback from your students.

When to use Clickers
You can use clickers for a number of functions, in any class session. For example, for assessments such as pop quizzes or even longer more substantive quizzes. For polling students on recent events as a discussion starter. You could start a class by asking about comprehension of the previous lecture’s material and direct your presentation accordingly. And clearly, much more.

Special considerations

What is the iClicker Web Registration process
MSU maintains a database that matches student ID's to their iClicker ID's. Students are directed to supply the necessary information via a web registration page, which is at: https://www3.montana.edu/iclicker/. Using the iClicker Web Synchronization function, the database then makes it easy for instructors to use clickers in class and automatically have clicker responses associated with the correct student ID.

How often do students need to register their clickers?
Since clickers can be sold back to the bookstore or given to other students, the database is reset every semester. As a result, students need to register their clickers at the beginning of each semester.

How do I get a list of the students in my classes that I can use for the web registration/synchronization process?
You can download a properly formatted list of your students by using MSU's Class Rolls service. The web synchronization process uses this class roll listing to associate a clicker ID with the correct student ID. If you have not used the class rolls service before you will need to apply for access - information is available on the class rolls page.

Is there an easy way to find out which of my students has registered a clicker?
Yes - By selecting "View printable class roll" on the Class Rolls system you can get a listing of all the students with a column noting which ones have registered their clicker in the current semester.

Using clickers with Desire2Learn
Though Desire2Learn is not directly integrated with iClicker, you can use the Class Rolls service to download a properly formatted spreadsheet file (named "gradesexport.csv") with your student ID's in it that makes it easy to import your clicker scores into D2L.

Using clickers with a basic spreadsheet
If you don’t use Desire2Learn but still want to keep track of student grades with a spreadsheet, you can download your class roll as a "roster.txt" file, synchronize it to the web database, and include any clicker scores in your grade spreadsheet.

Getting started - I want to try it. What next?
A good place to start is the Introduction to iClicker page on the MSU Teaching and Learning Committee site at:
http://www.montana.edu/teachlearn/TLResources/i-clicker.htm

To request a base station, instructor remote, or for more information, contact:
Ritchie Boyd 994-4660, jrboyd@montana.edu

Resources to consider, or mentioned in this FAQ:

Using MSU's online Web Registration: http://www.montana.edu/teachlearn/TLResources/documents/UsingOnlineRegistrationforiClicker-v6.pdf 
The MSU iClicker student Web Registration site: https://www3.montana.edu/iclicker/
The MSU Class Rolls service: http://www.montana.edu/msuinfo/classrolls/
Using iClickers with Desire2Learn: http://www.iclicker.com/uploadedFiles/Content/Support/User_Guides/ic61_D2L_instructor_guide.pdf

Additional Resources about Clickers

Educause 7 things: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7002.pdf
Educause 43 Resources: http://www.educause.edu/Resources/Browse/Classroom+Response+Systems/28524

Back to the MSU iClicker page