Audience Response Systems Reimagined

Sebastian Mader, François Bry

Audience response systems (ARS) allow lecturers to run quizzes in large classes by handing to technology the time-consuming tasks of collecting and aggregating students‘ answers. ARSs provide immediate feedback to lecturers and students alike. The first commercial ARSs emerged in the 1990s in form of clickers, i.e., transmitters equipped with a number of buttons, which impose restrictions on possible questions – most often, only multiple choice and numerical answers are possible.
Starting at the early 2010s, the ubiquity of smartphones, laptops, and tablet computers paved the way for web-based ARSs which, while running on technology that provides more means for input and a graphical display, still have much in common with their precursors: Even though more types of questions besides multiple choice are supported, the full capability of web-based technology is still not fully exploited. Furthermore, they also do not adapt to a student’s needs and knowledge, and often restrict quizzes to two phases: Answering a question and viewing the results.
This article first examines the current state of web-based ARSs: Question types found in current ARSs are identified and their support in a variety of ARSs is examined. Afterwards, three axes on which ARSs should advance in the future are introduced: Means of input, adaption to students, and support for multiple phases. Each axis is illustrated with concrete examples of quizzes.