Classroom clickers, also called group response systems, represent a form of technology-enhanced learning. An instructor can pose a question to the class during a lecture, and students can use their clicker devices to submit their answers. The system immediately aggregates the submissions and presents feedback to the instructor (and possibly the class).
This paper describes Informa, an extensible framework for building software-based group response systems. Informa is implemented as a distributed Java RMI application and distinguishes itself from traditional clickers in two key aspects: First, it allows for plug-ins to define the kinds of problems that can be posted (beyond the common multiple-choice). Second, it provides several levels of session anonymity, from completely anonymous sessions where the teacher does not know which student submitted which answer, all the way to authenticated sessions where students need to login when they join.
We have evaluated Informa in a pilot study during an undergraduate programming course, and we have found it to greatly enhance our insight into the students' understanding of the material.