During the extended Christmas holiday due to the bad weather, while browsing I came across an interesting ICT initiative in New South Wales. The federal government is investing in putting a compact lightweight laptop in the hands of every Year 9 school pupil in 571 schools over the next four years. Installed on each of the laptops are industry standard applications such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, One Note, Publisher and Access); Adobe software (Photoshop Elements, Dreamweaver, Flash, Contribute and Fireworks); Apple iTunes, Interactive Whiteboard applications such as Smart Notebook and Active Studio Viewer; open source applications such as Audacity and a local Australian application Student Response Network which can be used for group polling and gathering responses. More details on the Digital Education Revolution in New South Wales can be found at http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/gotoschool/highschool/dernsw/thelaptop.php
The Student Response Network is a simple “Virtual Clicker” software application designed for use in school computer labs or with wireless laptops and netbooks for collecting student responses to questions posed by the teacher. For a school that has a 1:1 computer lab, laptop or netbook classroom computer access it offers a very cost effective audience response system, costing only a fraction of the price of a full set of conventional hardware clickers which all of the interactive whiteboard manufacturers are marketing today.
The Student Response Network offers four methods of collecting responses:
- Beat the Buzzer type questions – first person to buzz gets to answer
- True or False Questions – Yes/No
- Multiple Choice – up to four – A, B, C or D
- Text Entry – answer with a word, number, phrase or a sentence
To use the programme, the Student Response Network Server application is copied on to the teacher’s computer connected to a data projector or interactive whiteboard. There is no complicated installation involved. Only Administrator access required is to open Windows Firewall exceptions on the teacher’s pc so that Windows Firewall doesn’t block client pc’s accessing the server. This is very well documented on the site. The Student Response Network client application can be copied to any folder on the student pc’s. Again no complicated installation is required.
As pupils submit their answers, the server collects them instantly. When all pupils have answered, a bar chart is displayed on the teacher’s computer. Teacher can then click on the correct answer and the server application will record results. At the end of the lesson a log of all responses can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet. Free text answers are also recorded in Notepad.
I downloaded the trial version (up to 5 clients) of this software and gave it a go in a Mathematics lesson with my Fifth Class pupils last week. It went down a ball with the group.
Two licensing options for this software are offered –
Single Server licence option (with up to 50 clients) – 65 US$
Campus Wide licence option (unlimited servers with up to 50 clients each) – 129 US$