July 23, 2019 | 67° F

Rutgers student assembly pushes for universal clicker

Photo by Georgette Stillman |

A RUSA committee is looking into picking one standardized clicker that can be used in every class, which would save students money. Different classrooms are equipped to work with different brands right now, which would require an infrastructure update first.

During his second semester at Rutgers, Chris Lind spent more than $90 buying three different brands of response cards — electronic remotes used to answer in-class questions, measure performance and track participation.

"I saw it as an unnecessary expense," said the Rutgers University Student Assembly Academic Chair who, following his experience, was inspired to spearhead an initiative to establish one universal clicker at the school. 

After researching the issue, the Academic Affairs Committee found that a majority of students during their time at Rutgers will be required to purchase a variety of clickers that Lind said can range anywhere from $40 to $87 depending on the brand a professor requires. 

"There really is no reason to have multiple clickers when their function is essentially the same," said Lind, a Rutgers Business School sophomore. 

Three RUSA Academic Chair committee members — Lind, School of Environmental Sciences sophomore David Wakim and School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Salma Elkholy — are now on the hunt for the ideal clicker.

The three students stopped by Barnes and Nobles to compile data on the different response cards being sold by the University book store and ultimately selected the most functional and financially applicable clicker.

Elkholy reached out to Rutgers' Office of Information and Technology to learn about classroom technology capabilities.

Each classroom has different technology capabilities depending on department mandates, Lind said. The business school classrooms, for instance, only have servers capable of receiving Turning Technology responses and Scott Hall is only capable of receiving iClicker responses. 

"Some classrooms aren't updated for all of the different brands of clickers, so moving forward, we'd have to meet with (the Office of Information Technology) quite a bit to see what they can do in order to update the classrooms to a standard model, whether that be the iClicker or Turning Technologies."

Expenses are attached to selecting a universal clicker. If the clicker is standardized, Lind said OIT would have to update all classrooms to one technology. 

The committee has meetings planned with School of Arts and Sciences Dean Peter March, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Ben Sifuentes-Jauregui and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Carolyn Moehling. 

"(Sifuentes-Jauregui) thought very highly of the initiative," Lind said. "Moving forward with these administrators, we think it'll be great to have them on board with the cause because we do find having all these different clickers is an unnecessary expense at the University."

By the end of the Spring 2017 semester, the committee hopes to have a plan in motion and the universal clicker in the hands of students by next fall. The committee is currently creating a resolution to pass by the RUSA body. 

Wakim reached out to students at Ohio State University who had never heard of clickers or response cards. Lind said the students "couldn't imagine buying different clickers when they all accomplish the same exact thing."

Instead, the school uses a free app downloaded onto their smartphones in order to answer in-class questions, making the entire process more convenient. 

And at the University of Iowa, changes began happening with the clicker policy this fall. Professors at the school now allow students to answer in-class questions by downloading a free app, called ResponseWare, onto their wireless personal devices, such as cell phones, laptops or tablets.

"This is going to be an uphill battle for us," Lind said. "If all goes well, when we come back in the fall, we'll all be able to use one clicker throughout our four years here at Rutgers."

Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo for more stories.

Avalon Zoppo

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