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Personal Response System Modernization Pilot

Center for Teaching Excellence

A shift is occurring in the personal response system market toward software applications on mobile devices in place of physical response devices. Newer entrants to the space like Top Hat and Poll Everywhere have eschewed the development of physical devices altogether and focused solely on the software interface. Even industry stalwarts like i>clicker have indicated their ambition to move in this direction through such recent changes as bundling i>clicker REEF subscriptions (their mobile device solution) with new physical devices and charging students to register used devices.

Boston College needs to respond to this changing landscape, and do so quickly. Many faculty members have already started using software‐based solutions, largely without support, and have reported very good feedback from these products. Use of personal response systems at BC, in general, has declined since the beginning of this academic year, however, primarily because of the issues with the existing i>clicker system and its inability to keep up with contemporary competitors. While we will continue to support i>clicker for at least the next year, its web‐based alternative to physical devices lacks significant feature parity with the other platforms included in this pilot, which is one of the reasons that this pilot is necessary.

The CTE will be conducting a faculty pilot of two software‐based personal response tools, Top Hat and Poll Everywhere, that fulfill a range of faculty use cases. Much like current BC support of virtual communication tools, this selection of personal response system tools would ensure a good fit for a wide range of use cases. While the CTE is already conducting internal testing of these products, coupling this testing with faculty feedback will be crucial in selecting the appropriate tools for BC. The pilot will start during the 2015 Fall semester and continue through Spring 2016 with nine faculty members participating.