Friday, September 24, 2010

Pavlovian Professors at Johns Hopkins?

The excerpt below from Inside Higher Ed is about student complaints at Johns Hopkins concerning fees for "clickers." Haven't heard of clickers? Students register their satisfaction in real time with the lecture and, presumably, the professor adapts. As noted in the video that follows the excerpt, this idea is not confined to professors.

First, the excerpt:

Take Your Fee and Click It!
September 24, 2010

Anyone who doubts that rising tuition is making students especially thrifty when it comes to the ancillary costs of going to college might consider Johns Hopkins University, where nearly 200 students are protesting a new fee that works out to about the price of two movie tickets and some Chinese carry-out. The fee is for classroom clickers -- a popular technology that allows professors to gauge student understanding or opinion in real time by giving them handheld voting devices and taking polls throughout a class period. Johns Hopkins began piloting the system six years ago, and since then it has subsidized the cost of the per-student “enrollment codes” in hopes of “focus[ing] the pilot on education, rather than on administrative issues,” according to Candice Dalrymple, director of the university’s Center for Learning Resources. Now that the pilot has expanded into a broad deployment, affecting about half of the university’s 5,000 undergraduates, the front office is passing those fees on to students. Students can pay $13 per course, per semester to register their clicker, or they can pay a one-time fee of $35 that covers all courses, all semesters. All students taking courses that use clickers are required to buy the enrollment codes. (Students are also required to buy the actual clicker devices, which run between $20 and $30, but this had been true during the pilot phase.) Given that students spend hundreds of dollars every year on textbooks, it might have seemed unlikely that students would raise a fuss about a new $35 charge covering clickers until graduation. The vendor, eInstruction, says it is “definitely not the norm” for a university to keep paying the enrollment fees for students once the system has been deployed at scale.

Full article at

And then the video:

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