These are systems where students have a wireless handset - like a TV zapper - which allows them to vote in response to a multiple choice type question posed by their lecturer.
The possible answers and a summary of the responses are displayed graphically on a PC screen (which can be projected so that all the students can see).
Such systems typically comprise:
The pedagogic benefits are:
There are many ways of using clicker technology in different settings and for different purposes and the page on using PRS clickers in your teaching outlines some of the reasons you might want to use them and ways in which you can make the most of their functionality. There are also some clicker alternatives which serve similar or related functions and amy be more useful for your context.
Staff can borrow sets of 'clickers' from the Teaching and Learning Development Unit, which also runs events to demonstrate their use.
The University of Edinburgh has produced an accessible 'brief introduction to why you might want to use clickers and how to use them effectively' based on their experience. This includes links to relevant literature.
The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard hosts a video demonstration of Teaching with Personal Response System 'clickers' in Physics by Professor Eric Mazur and a helpful guide to good question design.Away from the sciences, this video from the Strathclyde University looks at using clickers in a French course.