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UMBC to undergo change in clicker model this summer

This summer UMBC will update its clicker model.

The model currently used is TurningPoint 5. Under this system, a new clicker cost approximately $60, while the price of a used clicker hovers around $30. It is worth noting, however, that those prices are from the school bookstore. Students also have the ability to sell and purchase secondhand clickers from each other.

However once the transition to the new model is completed, students will no longer be able to sell and buy their old clickers. Students will have two online accounts, a Turning Account and a ResponseWare account. The ResponseWare account allows for a student’s mobile device to act as a clicker so long as their professor permits that feature to be used.

Holly Owens, instructional technology specialist at UMBC, presented the “Clicker Model Migration Plan” to the SGA Senate on Monday, Feb. 1.

Under the model proposed, students will buy a “bundle” from the bookstore. It will come with a new clicker and four years of ResponseWare. It costs $61 before taxes, but there is also a $20 mail-in rebate option which deflates the price to $41.

William Rice, speaker of the SGA Senate, had mixed opinions on the new model. He believes that “individuals who will use clickers multiple years at UMBC will most likely benefit from the clicker migration. The annualized cost of the clicker and license was presented to us at approximately $11 or $12 a year.”

He added, “That being said, I feel students who only have to use a clicker once during their college career will get less ‘bang for their buck.’  All members of a certain grade will have to pay the same price for a clicker/license package regardless of how much they will use the package in the future. I can foresee this setup causing frustration for students. I pressed for a one year option that would provide more flexibility to students and a lower price point.”

Rice did add that Owens was receptive to that idea, and “assured [him] that she will discuss the one year option with her colleagues.”

Students who currently have clickers, though, need not worry. “… [They] will be grandfathered into the new system and will receive a license through an automated process,” Owens said.

This change in model was triggered by a transformation in Turning Technologies, the company that produces the clickers. When they announced they would no longer be supporting the TurningPoint 5 system, UMBC was forced to adopt a new model.

The advancement might have been more than just a routine software update, though.

Morgan Tondo, communications manager, spoke on behalf of Turning Technologies. “[We] developed TurningPoint Cloud, an enhanced software solution that was necessary to aid in FERPA compliance. The development included a secure login and encryption of student data. Many universities have faced significant challenges including lawsuits with regard to student data. Our organization moved quickly to provide an offering that allows for the better protection of this private information,” she said.

She continued, “TurningPoint Cloud continues to support the use of traditional clickers and it also includes added benefits for students. We added the ability for a student to purchase a new clicker with a one year license for the same price they used to pay for the clicker alone.”

Under the new model students will be given a license which prohibits their clicker from being sold secondhand. When asked why this feature was implemented, Tondo said, “With licensing, students receive the added benefit of having access to the ongoing improvements and enhancements made within our web platform. Turning Technologies offers free support and training along with the continuous development of our web products. Fees are necessary to ensure a sustainable business.”