Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Next Generation Audience Response Systems for Teachers and Trainers

Audience Response Systems (ARS) establish interactivity between presenters and their audience. Traditionally ARS consist of  several units of wireless hardware (a clicker pad which looks like a remote control) used by the audience, and it is combined with a presentation software used by the presenter.

Among the several well-known benefits of ARS, the most important one is that it creates an interactive and fun learning environment. Presenters can gain and retain audience attention, help increase knowledge retention, and confirm audience understanding of material presented. This is done in several ways: polling anonymously, tracking individual responses, displaying polling results immediately and so forth. Some presenters gather data or even take attendance using ARS.

According to Wikipedia, audience response systems may present some difficulties in both their deployment and use.
  1. The per-unit purchase price of ARS devices
  2. The maintenance and repair of devices when owned by a central unit or organization
  3. The configuration, troubleshooting and support of the related presentation software
  4. The reliability and performance of the devices
One can further state that the next generation should support some, if not all, of the following requirements.
  1. Must work in a webinar / online meeting environment where people are not in the same location. Increasingly, meetings and classes take place in this mode. Clickers are no good for webinars.
  2. Must avoid the need for purpose-built special hardware even when the audience is physically in same room (refer to my earlier post on Microsoft Mouse Mischief)
  3. Should provide the option of using  generic reliable hardware such as computers, tablets or even smart phones as participation devices
  4. Should work with popular presentation software such as PowerPoint
  5. Must allow free text entry (apart from selecting from multiple choices)
  6. Must make it possible for the presentation software to share with everybody the result of participation instantly, thus fostering interaction 
Any other thoughts on the next generation audience response systems?


  1. Hi Vikas,

    You have mentioned some very good points on what a next Gen ARS should look like.

    I specifically agree with point #1 where ARS should be accessible over webinars when training and learning sessions are going beyond classroom sessions.

    Current ARS devices also have limitations from concurrent usage perspective. If I a teacher in a university then I cannot use the ARS devices if it is being used in other classes. Else, we need to purchase those many hardware devices which are not at all cost efficient. Online ARS would resolve this issue to a great extent. Today internet access through mobile has become a common phenomena and most of the university students to have this facility enabled on their smart phones.

  2. The next gen audience response systems should be cost effective irrespective of number of target audience. Usually cost effectiveness of an ARS system decrease as number of audience increase if it uses any special hardware. So in my opinion cost effectiveness is an important factor to consider while looking for an ideal ARS system.

  3. In my opinion, the Next-Gen-ARS should be truly On-Demand [work on anytime-anywhere mode], easy to set-up and low on maintenance [cost and effort-wise].

    It should go beyond just polling and anonymous responses - to make it interactive and personalized.

    Overall, the need for Next-Gen ARS is to be more user centric, rather than vendor-centric - as in the current available options.

  4. As you mention in your blog next generation ARS will be differentiate with traditional ARS in technology part and working mechanism. Researches should go above today's methodology by providing personalize schedules. A cost effective technology than present audience response system, alike services are available at various other websites.

  5. No requirement of expensive hardware and technical person to install the setup. Next-Genration-ARS can be install under 5 mins.