Students Should Stand Up to Clicker Costs

Dear Editor,

I wish to bring more coverage to the clicker technology being used in classrooms. You might already be familiar with it; however, I did notice that only a handful of classes at UCSD use this system, so I’ll provide a short background from my perspective.

Certain classes require each student to buy a wireless clicker device that works as a remote control. Each student’s clicker communicates with a wireless hub that the professor brings to class, and this serves as a wireless voting system.

Professor of molecular biology Susan Golden uses this system for BILD 1 to track students’ participation, and can thus objectively award points toward their final grades. She generally asks a multiple-choice question and opens up the poll for those of us in class to choose an answer. She then discusses the right answer and has real-time results of the poll to see how the entire class is doing in understanding the subject matter that she just taught.

This has several advantages — it allows students an opportunity to think critically during lectures, and it allows the professor to gauge students’ understanding of the material in real-time. It also allows the entire class to participate without feeling bad about selecting an incorrect answer. I think it’s fair, useful and I like the system.

However, I would like to bring serious attention to two facts: First, the clicker device is extremely expensive! In addition to requiring a $180 textbook for the class, students are now required to spend upward of $40 for a clicker. Secondly, it appears that there are three to four different clicker devices from different manufacturers that are all incompatible with each other, and some professors use one system and others use the other.

This is a serious oversight on the part of the professors and the university to not have one system so that students do not incur multiple costs for different systems that provide the same service. Not to mention, students have to carry multiple bulky clickers around (although this, in principle, is insignificant to the larger issue).

My hope is that students will stand up against what seems like a broken system which only burdens them with higher costs.

— Sherman Antao

UCSD alumnus,

Jacobs School of Engineering

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