Pocket full of clickers?
April 14th, 2007

Yesterday I was at Baruch College’s Teaching and Technology Conference, which presented an excellent round-up of higher education technology and thinking. One of the sessions I attended demonstrated the ‘clickers’ students use in many classes these days. The clickers are small handheld devices with buttons to push that send a signal to a PowerPoint presentation created by a teacher. Students can answer questions and make choices that appear on the screen when they click. For the teaching done with the demo I saw, students are provided by Baruch with individual clickers to use during a semester for a particular class.

Today the New York times has a story prompted by the International Auto Show
that has been running this week. The headline: Car Keys Could Go the Way of Tail Fins. The subject is fobs:

Today’s keyless models use a fob — the small remote control device that most modern cars use to lock and unlock doors — but it performs the additional duty of sending a signal to the ignition. For the car to start, the fob has to be somewhere near the dashboard, perhaps stowed in a cup holder.

The final sentence concludes that the switch to fobs may send: ‘car keys to the same bin now filled with window cranks and whitewall tires.’

In looking at the pictures in the Times story of the fobs, they seemed strikingly like the clickers I saw in the classroom demo yesterday. If you had a keyless car and were enrolled in the Baruch class you would have two clicking devices in your pocket. My guess is that it will not be long before the functions of the car fobs and of the class clickers will migrate to our mobile phones. Fobs and clickers will be what end up in the bin of obsolescence.

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