No Clicks for Clickers

For our weekly ILC staff training today, Gurupreet conducted a training session on how to setup and use Clickers in a classroom. Those who have been in a dog/cat training before might have thought a “clicker” as a device that makes a clicking sound, and you use it to train your pets, shape their behaviors, and teach them new tricks. For those who are not sure what it is, please watch the video below to see how a clicker can be used to train your dogs and cats.

I love clickers! Enzo responded very well with the clicker. I have been constantly using the clicker as positive reinforcement to provide him with instant feedback (reward).  Basically this takes advantage of the fact that dogs learn by the immediate consequence of their actions. What this means is that if we provide and control these consequences we will in fact be controlling our dog’s behavior. In clicker dog training the sound of the clicker becomes associated with receiving a reward (i.e., Classical Conditioning). When Enzo hears the click, he will expect a treat! This becomes very useful when Enzo ran out in my backyard, and I needed him to come in the house. All I had to do was push the clicker, he would run for his life to me, and he surely expected a treat.

Clickers for dog training

Enzo Ferrari

Nevertheless, Gurupreet did not demonstrate how to use that kind of clicker…. Ha! The clickers we learned today were remote personal response systems using infrared or radio technology to transmit and record student responses to questions. Clickers look like small TV remote control devices. Instructors will have a receiving hub connected to a computer in front of a class. I ran across an article about the Clickers. If you are interested to read about the application of Clickers, please click here.

Clickers - Response System

I remember that 4-5 years ago I were asked to lead a project called Workshop Collaboration Tool (WCT). I assisted in designing the graphical user interface, developing the program algorithm, installing and testing the tool, and managing the project. I worked closely with a programmer to develop the tool. The purposes of WCT are to use in conferences or workshops where participants provide feedback to presenters or facilitators, work collaboratively on policy development, and make decisions as a whole. The WCT allows participants to submit questions during a presentation. Presenters can ask participants to answer questions, vote, and rank items. The tool also displays the results at the end. The WCT was used in several conferences and well received although several areas needed improvement.

The WCT shares the same concepts with the Clickers, except the Clickers can operate only basic functions. For example, students can press either numbers or letters on the Clickers. Students cannot elaborate more on their responses and answers. Students will have to discuss verbally as a group. But, I do like the fact that it is easy to create questions in Microsoft PowerPoint and operate the Clickers. That statistical results display very nicely. However, during the training we ran into a huge problem when starting a set of question, all the Clickers could not connect to the receivers. We could not do anything. We did try to turn it on and off several times, but no luck–no clicks. Oh..well..we definitely need to test them out again and find out what the issues are. It is possible that it is the software issue.


Last week I found a new tool, called “SoapBox.” It is very interesting. SoapBox has all the WCT’s features and more. Although SoapBox is pretty new and still a beta version, it has great potential. Students can access the tool via the Internet, smart phones, and mobile devices. I would love to test it out. You can view demo videos of SoapBox below.

All and all, I like Clickers’ concepts and simplicity, but I prefer to use some kinds of tools that can handle more than just yes/no answers, polls, and basic responses. It would become more effective tool if students can post questions anytime they want during a lecture or presentation, they can elaborate or describe their responses or answers, or they can rank items. Also, the tools should be easy to operate and access. With those features, it would be such fun and engaging learning experience for students.

  1. October 8, 2012

    Interesting experience with the clicker. Have you got a strategy on how to ween him away from the clicker and the expectation of a treat every time you want him to do something?

    We’ve looked at the clicker a bit, but we’re still kind of undecided on it.


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