Four HKBU scholars recently developed a low-cost instant response system using mobile phones (not necessarily smartphones) to enhance the engagement of students in active learning and to sustain a vibrant learning environment in large classes where interaction between students and the instructor is usually limited or where students tend to be passive in responding to avoid embarrassment.
iQlickers™, created by a research team comprising Professor Albert Lee, Chair Professor of the Department of Chemistry; Professor Joseph Ng of the Department of Computer Science; Dr. Eva Wong, Director of the Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning; and Dr. Alfred Tan, Head of the Knowledge Transfer Office, enables students to use their own mobile phones to send an SMS to answer questions in the form of quizzes or opinion polls without drawing attention to themselves in class. Students do not have to pay for sending the text messages as the numbers of various mobile network providers will be given.
The system will carry out real-time analysis and display the statistics of the responses in a short time. Students’ responses are represented in bar charts allowing the instructor to gauge how far the students understand the course content and to determine whether further explanation is required, thus enhancing class interaction.
Professor Albert Lee said the idea behind the system was sparked by his daughter. “My daughter pointed out to me that users of the same mobile phone network can send text messages free of charge, inspiring me to develop a learning platform which enables users to send an SMS to a given phone number of the same mobile network provider. As there are only five major network providers in Hong Kong currently, the set up cost for the University is minimal. That helped us to start developing iQlickers™.”
Technical advisor to the project, Professor Joseph Ng, said, “Unlike the existing clicker systems available in the market, iQlickers™ requires no hardware installation or Wi-Fi connectivity. Maintenance cost is thus minimal. Students can use their own mobile phones to respond. In this way, their phones become handy teaching and learning tools during lectures, stimulating discussions and enhancing the momentum of learning.”
Professor Lee and his cross-disciplinary team members have tested the system in their own classes and are inviting instructors from other Departments and Centres at the University to try the system with their students. The system can also be integrated with the current eLearning platform (Moodle) widely used by HKBU professors and students.
The Education Bureau is also supporting Professor Lee and his team in exploring the possible usage of iQlickers™ in secondary schools. The response from secondary school teachers has been positive.
The Knowledge Transfer Office is guiding the team in securing trademark rights to iQlickers™ and the Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning has been providing support in implementation. For more details on the system, please visit http://www.iqlickers.com