For those of you unfamiliar with Learning Response Systems (LRSs), they are small handheld devices, not unlike a mobile phone. Each device has a number of buttons on them. The most basic have 4 buttons labelled A, B, C and D and others have a full range of buttons to allow text messaging, etc. Each student in the class is given one of these devices. The teacher can ask a question, (for example a mulitple choice question) and students can respond by pressing a button (or buttons) to answer that question. These responses are recorded by some software and logged. The teacher can check everybody’s answers instantly and immediately see which pupils need extra help.
To show you an example of how I’ve used an LRS, in one class I used it to assess whether children recognised their colours in Irish.
I created a flipchart with a coloured blob and four possible answers. (My green blob had A. dearg B. glas C. gorm D. buí next to it). The children had 30 seconds to record the correct word to match the colour and their answers were logged by the software. The software then created a nice pie chart showing % correct answers and incorrect answers. It also showed me the number of answers each child got right and wrong.
This was very useful to me as I was able to see exactly how many children in the class knew their colours vocabulary and whether there were some colours that still needed some focus – corcra being the one most children forgot.
I found initially children found the devices difficult to use. However, when they did get used to them, they were quite happy to play our “voting games.” I noticed after the 6th or 7th time, children were not as enthusiastic about them as I’d hoped. This may have been because they were bored of the activities I had prepared or perhaps, the novelty had worn off. They do take quite a bit of time to set up – handing them out to the correct children and putting them away at the end in the right order takes about 10 minutes. The initial set up is even longer but this can be done outside of class time.
On a positive note, like any piece of technology, if it’s used well and not overused, it has great educational benefits.
There are a number of companies selling LRSs all over Ireland. In fact, if a company sells an Interactive Whiteboard, you can be almost sure that they will also sell an LRS. Most LRSs are compatible with any computer or IWB. Ask the companies before you purchase.
The main off-putting thing about LRSs is the price. They cost about €50 each (or more). For a class of 30 children, this amounts to a fairly big investment. I also think that mobile phones or devices like the iPod Touch will eventually render these devices obsolete, but I’ve been saying that for 7 years now and it hasn’t happened, even with the iPod Touch emerging this year.
If anyone has good stories about their use of LRSs in their classrooms, I’d love to hear them so add your comments below.
Last Update: August 17, 2017