Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gather Data: Audience Polling Technologies

Podcast / downloadable mp3 file

Turning Technologies has announced the release of a cluster of products that are likely to change the nature of educational interaction in classrooms and online. The new technologies also have the capacity to shape the future of census data-gathering, and consequently, Congressional districts and power distribution in Washington, just to name one "off-label" possibility.

What is the main complaint about the traditional lecture model which may include 300 hundred or more students packed into lecture halls with the sage on the stage professor? Most people would say the problem is the lack of student engagement. In the past, it has been impossible for students to meaningfully interact with the professor and with other students.

Now, thanks to Turning Technologies, professors can take attendance, poll students, ask for opinions, and then display responses with their PowerPoint presentation - all with a click of a clicker, provided by TurningPoint software.

Turning Technologies has an array of audience response cards, or "clickers," which work well with many lecture applications, ranging from K-12 to higher education, corporate training, and government.



The Rochester Institute of Technology has been using Turning Technologies' response cards in its lecture-based courses that include 150 or more students. Using wireless response cards, students not only interact by voting and providing opinions on topics. They can also take quizzes (multiple choice, etc.), and can check roll. The results are gathered in a comma-delimited spreadsheet and imported directly into Desire2Learn, the learning management system used by RIT.

To encourage remote interaction, Turning Technologies is preparing to announce the general release of its VPad, software that allows individuals who are participating in a webinar or other synchronous online activity to vote and for the results to be instantly tabulated and displayed. The possibilities are pretty staggering, particularly in an election year, and in a time when people are seeking ways to improve efficiency in marketing research, census data collection, and
more.

I'd like to see Turning Technologies use their products to gather census data. Their products, if used effectively, could collect the kind of data that could help states such as New York, collect census data accurately and thoroughly, and possibly avoid slipping to 4th place (behind Florida) and thus losing even more Congressional representation. Conversely, Florida could use the technology to gather data in hard-to-gather locations, en masse (say, in departments of motor vehicles), to overtake New York.

These are just a few of the possibilities. The point is, the future is interactive, and data gathering is accurate, efficient, and more flexible than ever.

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