Informa - Classroom Clicker System


Informa is an extensible group response system that can quickly gather deep feedback from all students in a classroom.

What is a classroom clicker? In traditional group response systems, an instructor projects a multiple-choice question on the classroom projector, and students use clickers, special purpose remote controls, to submit their answers by pressing one of the buttons on their clicker. The instructor can immediately see the responses aggregated in the form of a histogram and can adopt her lecture to the level of understanding of the students.

Stack and Heap Diagram Problem Graph Problem

How is Informa different? Informa is a software implementation of a clicker system. It is implemented as two Java applications that communicate over Java RMI. The Informa instructor application runs on the instructor's computer. It allows the instructor to control the session, and it presents visualizations on the classroom projector. The Informa student application runs on the computers of all students. It connects to the instructor application and allows the students to solve problems and evaluate solutions.

The main idea behind Informa is that a software-based clicker is able to support much richer interactions than traditional hardware clickers. In Informa, multiple-choice questions are just one of an extensible number of problem types. For example, Informa provides a plugin supporting so-called text-highlighting problems, where students are presented with a question and a body of text, and then have to highlight all the relevant sections in the text. This type of problem is richer than a multiple-choice question, because students have to "construct" the solution (an arbitrary set of highlights) themselves, instead of picking among a set of solutions predetermined by the instructor.

Download

Download the Informa Instructor and Informa Student Java applications from our download page.

Usage

The instructor runs the instructor application by just double-clicking on the corresponding JAR. The students do the same. It should "just work". Please let us know if you find Informa helpful or if you encounter any problems.

Please support our research by sending us anonymous usage data. The instructor application logs each session to a file in $HOME/.informa/yyyy.MM.dd-HH.mm.ss.log. Given that Informa is a research project, we would very much appreciate if you could send us (e.g. by email) the resulting (anonymous) session log files. Each log file contains all problems posted and all solutions submitted, and for the solutions it usually contains a kind of trace of how the student actually solved the problem. We would like to use that data to build an even cooler system.

Publications