As many of you already know, I’ve returned to school to wrap up my B.A., having transferred my credits from UNC-Greensboro to UNC-Charlotte. I started back this month.

The transition has been easy enough. I’ve definitely learned great skills in the workplace which help me to manage my time, goals and expectations. And, this go ’round, I’ve found myself more committed to my coursework. After all, a few years of adulthood under your belt gives you an appreciation for just how much money you’re actually spending to achieve that degree you want so badly.

But no amount of time in the workplace can prepare you for the insanity and fiscal irresponsibility that seems to plague university administrations (and, admittedly, other unwieldy, behemoth bureaucracies as well) around the world.

I thought I’d share, certainly for the laugh factor, though here I primarily offer, with the letter below as all the evidence I need, an argument outlining a severe lack of judgment, a waste of both student and faculty time and a waste of student and taxpayer dollars.

What in the world ever happened to simply taking attendance, requiring students to take notes and complete papers and administering exams?


January 25, 2011

UNC Charlotte Students,

Over the past decade, instructors at UNC Charlotte and across the country have been using “clickers” in their classrooms with increasing frequency. Clickers are instructional tools that elicit student interaction in real time by collecting and displaying student responses to questions posed by the instructor, either verbally or projected on a screen. The students respond by pressing a button on hand-held wireless transmitters, and receivers transmit that data to a computer. The clicker software tallies the responses, and the students and instructor can receive instant feedback in the form of histograms and detailed reports. Because each student transmitter has a unique signature that can be registered to its user, performance data can be tabulated to assess attendance, participation, and long-term progress.

As the technology has developed, a number of competing products have emerged. Five years ago, the university formed a committee of faculty, IT professionals, and staff from units that would be impacted by this technology and charged them with selecting a university standard for interactive classroom clicker usage and to plan its implementation. The selection of a single clicker for campus-wide use ensured that students would only need to purchase one device for all of their classes, and has enabled the Office of Classroom Support to provide the support necessary for increasing usage.

The Clicker Selection Committee recommended the Interwrite Personal Response System (PRS), which was the only product on the market at that time that met all of our goals (especially when it came to accessibility issues). About a year after this standard was approved and implemented, Interwrite was bought out by a company called eInstruction, which offers a competing clicker system called the Classroom Performance System (CPS). In the summer of 2010, eInstruction notified the university that they would no longer offer the PRS clickers after spring 2011. This created a number of problems, namely 1) new software would need to be installed across the entire university, software which still does not fix any of the issues that have plagued clicker users throughout recent updates, and 2) the new clickers would require new receivers for every classroom, which would be incompatible with the clickers currently in use.

Since it is now, regrettably, that students will be required to purchase new clickers, and that these new clickers will, in turn, require new receivers and new software, a new Clicker Selection Committee has been convened to examine the clicker technologies that have emerged since the initial recommendation. After careful consideration, the committee is recommending products from two leading companies: I