Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Upgrade for clicker software available across campus

The professor hesitates slightly as he clicks to the next slide. It displays a question about the function of mitochondria, and students shuffle through their notes to find the answer. The receiver counts the answers received, and the last student clicks in their answer on a handheld device, hoping they selected correctly.

Clicker quizzes are a standard part of many introductory science classes, and this year, Turning Technologies updated the clickers’ firmware and receivers to maintain compatibility with Blackboard.

“The new NXT clickers are easier to use and more intuitive than the old ones,” Rick Dowling, coordinator of faculty development, said. “The new clickers also automatically detect what polling mode they’re in. TurningPoint also makes an accessible clicker for students with vision impairments.”

Students with clicker firmware older than 1.2.1 for the gray XR clickers or 2.0.5 for the new NXT clickers must update their firmware to be compatible with the receivers. This can be done by visiting a clicker update station in the Faculty Resource Center in A203 Gordon Palmer, Gorgas Library, Rodgers Library or the SUPe stores in Tutwiler and the Ferguson Center. Additionally, the update can be completed by downloading the new firmware from the Faculty Resource Center website,, in the Turning Technologies Clicker section.

“I have the old one, and Alexis Lanning, who sits next to me, has the new one,” Karina Simonis, a junior majoring in musical theater, said. “From what I can tell between the two of us, there is no visible difference in what we do in our classes, because really, it’s just that the slide comes up, and we press one, two, three or four. That’s it. So the upgrade, I have not been able to see it in action. That might be because I am only in a 100-level class.”

There are approximately 250 classrooms on campus equipped with clicker receivers, and the SUPe Store sold around 4,000 clickers this semester.

“The faculty who use clickers have been receptive to the new system,” Dowling said. “The new software, TurningPoint 5, is self-contained and gives faculty users a single application to manage their clicker activities.”

Other faculty members employ different technology for the same purpose. Poll Everywhere allows students to submit answers by text message or tweet.

“I think that they’re essentially the same, but I don’t have to worry about forgetting my cellphone, whereas I’ll forget my clicker at home, and then even if I’m there, I won’t get attendance points,” Maggie O’Connell, a senior majoring in accounting, said.

The purpose of the technology is to enhance learning for students.

“A lot of times the clicker questions they use end up being on quizzes or tests, so yes, I think that they do help students learn the material,” Simonis said. “I do think it raises attendance in classes, and therefore, it can help out students’ grades.”

Other students question the efficacy of clickers.

“I would say that, based on how many whispers I hear in class, they don’t help you learn very much,” O’Connell said.

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