PRS clicker replacements selected for upcoming year

Most Tech students are no doubt familiar with the audience response system known as PRS, commonly used in several courses here at Tech. Audience response systems are used by professors to facilitate student participation and encourage attendance, especially in larger classes.

Beginning in Fall 2011, a new response system, the TurningPoint system, will replace the PRS devices previously used at Tech. Additionally, all support for those PRS devices will be discontinued.

The decision was made because the PRS devices are being discontinued by the original vendor and because the system is not compatible with the most recent version of Microsoft Office.

A faculty committee recently convened to decide on a new device to be used in these classes. Director of Information Technology Michael Cummins served as the chair for the committee, which consisted primarily of representatives from several different academic departments whose classes frequently require the use of clickers. Additionally, representatives from the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) were also part of the committee.

Aspects such as affordability, features and compatibility were all examined by the committee in their selection process, and out of the four choices considered, the TurningPoint system was unanimously chosen by the members of the selection committee.

Among the advantages of TurningPoint is the ability of instructors to utilize the system outside of Microsoft PowerPoint, allowing more freedom and flexibility in its implementation that were not available for the PRS.

The ResponseCard NXT clicker device that will be used by students under the TurningPoint system is smaller and more streamlined than the PRS clickers used in the past, and the ResponseCard also provides more resistance against interference than the PRS.

The system will be fully compatible with T-Square, which will offer a more convenient method for professors to exchange rosters and grades between the system and T-Square.

The TurningPoint system is currently being piloted by a handful of summer courses and will be fully introduced and incorporated into classes in the fall semester.

Students enrolled in classes that require the use of TurningPoint can either purchase a ResponseCard NXT from the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Tech Square or, if their professors allow it, subscribe to a virtual clicker service called ResponseWare through their laptops and mobile devices.

ResponseCards are currently available at Barnes & Noble for 50 dollars, and CETL has stated that ResponseCards purchased from the bookstore in the 2011-2012 school year will be eligible for a 10 dollar rebate. Additionally, any PRS clickers returned during Aug. 2011 or Jan. 2012 will be bought back by the bookstore for five dollars.

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