The information on this page is intended for students who will be using clickers. If you are an instructor, you will likely be more interested in our teaching tip, Clickers.
- What is a clicker?
A clicker looks like a TV remote control but with fewer buttons.
- How do I use a clicker in class?
When a question is presented along with a number of possible answers, spend a few minutes thinking and talking to your neighbour about the question. Then "vote" or select your answer by clicking one of the buttons A-E on the clicker. A wireless receiver at the front of the room collects everyone's selection and a chart pops up showing the pattern of replies. If there is a split in how the class answered the question, it will reward you to look at the different replies and listen to why they were thought to be the answer.
- Why does my instructor want me to use a clicker?
Numerous studies show that clickers can help students learn. To learn more about why clickers work, consult this resource.
- Are any marks earned from using a clicker in class?
How class participation using clickers fits into the overall grading scheme will be announced in class by your instructor. In some courses there are only participation marks for answering questions, right or wrong. In others, there are additional marks for answering correctly. Clicker use can vary from light to heavy in a course, as appropriate. Typically, clickers are given from 1% to 5% of the course grade, but it can be more when they are heavily used.
- Do I have to buy a clicker?
Your instructor will announce in class whether clickers are required or optional. If required, then actively participating in class is part of the course. Other courses often include class discussions, debating or presentations. This course uses clickers for class participation. "Thinking on your feet" is an essential skill in every profession.
Sometimes clickers are optional, but recommended. In this case, the instructor will be using clickers to enrich the classroom experience but leave open the possibility of allocating the portion of marks set aside for clickers to another type of course assessment, such as a midterm or final exam.
- Where do I get a clicker?
The campus textbook store sells clickers. They were ordered for your class like textbooks or course notes. Ask the cashier where they are located if you don't see a sign or display of clickers.
- How much does a clicker cost?
The net cost is approximately $20 for using the clicker. You can keep it as long as you want to - one term, a year, or longer. The initial cost is $42, but at the end of the term (or year, or longer) the bookstore will buy back your clicker for $20. During the purchase, ask if the receipt needs to be shown at the buy back time. A limited number of used clickers are sold for $30 with the same buy back of $20.
- What do I do with a clicker when the term ends?
The bookstore will buy back your clicker for $20. You may also sell it to another student or keep it for another course. We'll try to advise you on the best options nearer the end of term.
- I forgot my clicker today. Have you got a spare?
No. But the grading scheme typically makes allowance for the usual problems of a forgotten clicker or missed class. For example, sometimes the best 80% to 90% of your answers are used for the clicker grade.
- What do I do with the clicker if I drop the course?
Return the clicker to the bookstore as you would return a textbook for the course. You should receive full price during the textbook store's refund period. Please ask the store about their return policy.
- What does it mean to register my clicker ID number?
To assign marks awarded for using a clicker, the ID number on the clicker has to be associated with your name. In class, the clicker software records your replies under the clicker ID number. Later in the term, the votes are tallied and organized using the registered clicker ID number and your name.
- Do I need to register my clicker before voting in class?
No. Voting in class with your clicker records the clicker ID located on the back of your clicker together with your vote.
- How do I register my clicker ID number in the course?
Register your clicker in your LEARN course. You will find a link to the clicker registration page somewhere on the Content tab within the LEARN/D2L course. Follow the instructions on this registration page to enter your clicker ID number (located on the back of the clicker) into the answer box. If you replace your clicker then register the new clicker ID number in the same manner as above. The clicker ID number is printed on the back of the clicker near the bottom, sometimes in very small type. An example is 12873CAB. Other numbers on the back like T24-RLR13 or 6495A-RLR13 are not clicker IDs. Clicker ID numbers sometimes use the numeral 0 (zero) or 1 (one), but never use the capital letter O (Oh) or lowercase letter l (el). Ask a fellow student or your instructor if you can't locate the clicker ID.
- What if the clicker ID number is missing or wears off?
A batch of iClicker clickers in the fall of 2008 had clicker ID numbers that wore off quickly with normal handling. If you can't read the clicker ID number located on the back of the clicker then take the clicker to the textbook store where it was purchased and explain the problem. They will use the iClicker system to read your clicker ID. Alternatively, your professor can also read your clicker ID by using the iClicker receiver and following these steps:
- Start iclicker.exe as usual.
- From the i-clicker floating menu bar, click on the down arrow to open the Options menu and select "Loan/Register Clickers."
- Hold the On/Off button on the clicker until the blue light starts flashing (around two seconds) then push the A button twice. The clicker ID will appear in the Remote field box.
- What if my clicker is lost?
The clicker could still be in the classroom where it was last used. Next time in your class ask the instructor to look in the podium cabinet. If the lost clicker gets found and turned in then it usually winds up at the lost and found in the campus security office in the Commissary building (COM on the campus map) on ring road up the street (north) from the Davis Centre CS building. Once campus security has a lost clicker for a bit of time they usually drop it off to Paul Kates. Contact Paul if you have had no luck with the two locations mentioned above.
- How do I turn the clicker on?
Press the ON/OFF button. A solid blue light should appear next to the top Power button. If your clicker came wrapped in packaging, pull out the small plastic tab on the back to activate the batteries.
- How do I know if my vote has been received?
When the receiver acknowledges a vote, the Vote Status light on the clicker (the third light) will flash green for a moment. If it flashes red instead, then either the voting period hasn't started, or the receiver didn't respond to your vote. In this last case, ask a fellow student what clicker frequency the class is using. Change the frequency of your clicker if necessary and vote again. Raise your hand for assistance if you don't see a green response.
- How do I change the frequency of my clicker?
The instructions on the back of your clicker say Press and hold the ON/OFF button until the top blue Power light flashes. Enter the 2 letter frequency code (AA to DD) as directed by your instructor. The code for your classroom is posted near the podium at the front of the class. When the clicker is turned off it forgets any changes in frequency that have occurred and the clicker frequency is again AA when the clicker is turned on.
- Can I change my vote/choice?
Yes. While the voting process is active, you can vote as often as you like. Only your last (most recent) choice/vote is recorded.
- What if I forget to turn off the clicker?
According to the company that makes the clickers, a clicker turns itself off after 5 minutes outside the range of a receiver or after 90 minutes in a classroom.
- How long will the batteries last?
The manufacturer says the batteries last about 200 hours, more than enough time for use over several terms. If the "Low Battery" light flashes red, replace the three AAA batteries within the next 10 hours of clicker use.
- How do I change the batteries?
Gently release the cover on the back of the clicker to gain access to the batteries.
- What happens if the clicker breaks?
Look at the "Low Battery" status light on the top front of the clicker (the second light). If it flashes red when the clicker is on then it is time to change the 3 AAA batteries. One of the FAQ questions explains the procedure. Clickers have a one year, limited warranty. If the course staff don't see anything obviously wrong with the clicker, ask the textbook store for an exchange. Bring along your purchase receipt just in case they ask for it. The clickers are sturdy and exchanges are rarely needed. After an exchange, register your new clicker ID as described above.
- Is white the only clicker colour?
Yes. If you find any nice accessories for your clicker, send an image or a web address of an image to Paul Kates.
- Who do I ask if I have further questions?
Please direct your questions about subject matter, course procedures, and clicker policy to your instructor. Questions about the purchase, use and registration of clickers can be directed to Tammy Marcinko. In email correspondence, please include your full name, login userid, course name and ID, along with your message. For additional help please see the Student Response System (iClicker/Cloud/REEF) information page.
This Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Clickers: A How-To for Students. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.