A couple of weeks ago we had our first class using the TurningPoint response system. To cut through the tension it worked really well!
Before the class the lecturer was very worried about the software and I was worried about the practicalities of handing out and getting back up to 180 handsets. In fact the software worked just fine as expected and handing out and collecting in the handsets (150, actually) was a doddle with three volunteers from the audience. The students seemed to enjoy using the equipment and the lecturer got useful feedback. Everything very smooth!
One question in particular struck me as an excellent demonstration of the advantages of the technology. The correct answer was A and 72% of the class said A but 16% said D. Would those 16% have identified themselves in a show of hands?
The issue now is for the lecturer to come to a procedure where he can run the process independently of me. I made the PowerPoint file by screen capture of a LaTeX-generated PDF. I have suggested if serious use were to be made of the system in the School we could come to some more automated arrangement using some LaTeX->image or PPT conversion. But in the meantime, the lecturer’s preferred method for presenting lectures is by writing on a tablet PC (see image below). As he can annotate a PowerPoint and store the annotations into the PPT file he is going to try this method. He will, before the class, write the questions and answers (or enough to serve as a reminder – the students will have a print out of the questions) on the PowerPoint and save it. Then TurningPoint will run as last week with images of hand written, rather than LaTeX-ed mathematics.
I am also investigating the use of TurningPoint Anywhere, which promises use of the TurningPoint application over any program, not just PowerPoint.
This week I will attend class again but remain passive. The intention is the lecturer will be able to run the classes by himself in future. Of course, once we are comfortable with the technology we have to find a way to evaluate whether the system is meeting the lecturers aim of encouraging the students to engage with lecture content before formal assessment.