Turning Technologies: New Student Response System (Clickers) at NIU

Student Response System is a technology which allows faculty to receive immediate feedback from students wirelessly with the use of small handheld devices commonly referred to as ‘clickers.’ NIU faculty have used a number of different clicker systems throughout the years; between 2007 and 2011, eInstruction CPS has been the centrally supported student response system. Because in the last several semesters there were consistent software and support problems with eInstruction CPS, a faculty user group together with staff from ITS and Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center reviewed other student response system vendors. After conducting an evaluation of a number of student response systems in the spring 2011 semester and piloting two of the systems during the summer 2011 semester, the faculty user group decided to transition to the Turning Technologies student response system beginning in the Fall 2011 semester. During the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, both the eInstruction CPS and Turning Technologies systems will be supported side-by-side; however, from the Summer 2012 semester, NIU will centrally support only the Turning Technologies student response system.

Turning Technologies Devices

ResponseCard NXT

ResponseCard NXTThe clicker model that has been adopted by faculty users at NIU is the ResponseCard NXT model. This particular model has been chosen because it provides the most advanced and versatile features, such as the cell phone-style text entry for short answer and essay questions, self-paced mode for individual assessment, user feedback display, alpha-numeric and punctuation support, among others.  This model supports the following types of questions: multiple-choice, numeric response, true/false, multiple answer, fill-in-the-blank, and essay. In a self-paced testing mode, students can navigate to any question of the test and select a response. After the question or test has been submitted, students receive a visual confirmation of their submission on the LCD screen.


ResponseWareOver the last several years, mobile learning has been on the rise and students are increasingly using their mobile devices for a variety of learning tasks, such as logging in to Blackboard Learn to access their Blackboard courses, using the NIU mobile app to get access to a number of university services, such as calendar events, athletics, bus schedules, etc. During the evaluation process, one of the criteria for deciding on a particular student response system was its ability to support smart devices as virtual clickers. Turning Technologies ResponseWare is a web-based virtual clicker solution: it allows students to use their Apple iPhones, Blackberry smart phones, Windows phones, or laptops to participate in a clicker session. The software is browser-based and doesn’t require any software installation. Students who have an iPhone, or iPod touch or Blackberry have an option of installing an app for their specific device. To use ResponseWare, Internet connectivity is required: students can either use the Wi-Fi connection if it’s available in the smart classroom, or their cellular connection if they are using a phone.

Turning Technologies Software

Turning Technologies offers a number of interactive polling solutions for faculty. The two types of software that faculty will use most often are TurningPoint and TurningPoint AnyWhere.


TurningPoint software is a plug-in to Microsoft PowerPoint that allows embedding questions and polling from either an existing PowerPoint presentation or a new presentation that faculty can create for an interactive clicker session. Faculty can customize the presentation with charts, count-down timers, and correct answer indicators. TurningPoint has a variety of templates such as a vertical bar, horizontal 3D pie, distributed pie, offset graph, horizontal graph or the doughnut graph that faculty can use to embed their questions and display feedback to students.

TurningPoint allows faculty to collect responses anonymously or use a participant roster that has been downloaded from Blackboard. After the students respond to a question, faculty have an option of displaying the response data to students. That data can be presented in a variety of charts as well, such as the horizontal bar chart, vertical bar, 3D pie, distributed pie or offset. Additionally, TurningPoint’s compare slide feature allows faculty to pose a question to students at the beginning of the lecture and later pose the same question again automatically displaying a side-by-side comparison of the results.


After an interactive session, faculty can use TurningPoint Reports to view and print the results of the data from the interactive session. The results can be viewed in the PowerPoint presentation or using Microsoft Word or Excel. Faculty also have an option of uploading session data to Blackboard.

TurningPoint AnyWhere

If faculty don’t use PowerPoint or simply would like to ask quick interactive questions on the fly, they can use TurningPoint AnyWhere. This software allows polling students from any application. Faculty can use a page on the web, open a PDF document, a Word file or even an existing presentation to pose questions to students. TurningPoint AnyWhere will take a screenshot of the application that was opened when the question was asked and record the results and the screenshot for each of the questions. TurningPoint AnyWhere also has a no-install version of the software that can be run directly from the flash drive from any computer. This feature allows faculty to use this program for interactive presentations and quizzes even if the classroom computer doesn’t have the software installed.

Additionally, TuringPoint AnyWhere supports the same features that are present in the TurningPoint software:

  • A countdown timer for each of the questions
  • Feedback chart with the answer distribution
  • Participant list integration, including Blackboard roster download
  • Adjustable polling bar
  • Session viewer to view and edit session data
  • Ability to create questions on the fly or add prepared question lists
  • Reports which can be viewed in CVS or html format

TurningPoint AnyWhere Polling













Using Turning Technologies with Blackboard

Turning Technologies software (both TurningPoint and TurningPoint AnyWhere) provides an easy integration with Blackboard for faculty who would like to upload session data from interactive quizzes and tests into their Blackboard courses. After students have registered their clickers in the Blackboard course (see detailed instructions for registering students clickers through Blackboard at  http://www.its.niu.edu/its/blackboard/clickers/turningpoint.shtml), faculty can then download the participant list using the TurningPoint or TurningPoint AnyWhere software. This participant list will have student names, their zIDs as well as their clicker device IDs. When students take an interactive quiz, their results will be stored based on the device ID they have registered through the Blackboard course. Faculty can then upload these results to Blackboard to share them with students.

More information on how to use Turning Technologies with Blackboard can be found here: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers.shtml.

What Do Faculty Need to Start Using Turning Technologies Clickers?

  1. Download the software (TurningPoint or TurningPoint AnyWhere) at http://www.turningtechnologies.com/responsesystemsupport/downloads/
  2. Place an order with the bookstore for the anticipated number of clickers needed for students enrolled in a course that will use clickers.
  3. Request an instructor kit (includes a receiver and a ResponseCard NXT clicker) from Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (FDIDC) as Turning Technologies sends the instructor kits to Faculty Development to distribue them to faculty who would be using them in their courses.
  4. Attend Clickers in the Classroom workshop offered by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center and/or view online tutorials on the Turning Technologies website.
  5. Review faculty and student resources at http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers.shtml and at http://www.its.niu.edu/its/blackboard/clickers/index.shtml

What Do Faculty Need to Use Turning Technologies in the Classroom?

  1. A computer with TurningPoint or TurningPoint AnyWhere installed (all NIU Provost’s Office sponsored smart classrooms already have this software).
  2. A projector (all NIU Provost’s Office sponsored smart classrooms are equipped with projectors).
  3. A Turning Technologies receiver (included in the instructor kit).
  4. Turning Technologies files (participant list and a PowerPoint presentation with embedded questions) as mentioned above.
  5. Students who have registered through their Blackboard courses their ResponseCard NXT clickers or ResponseWare.


To learn more about Turning Technologies student response system, please visit the support page at: http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/clickers.shtml.

Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offers programs on the principles and practices of incorporating interactive technologies, including student response systems, in teaching. The current program schedule and online registration information can be found at: http://www.niu.edu/facdev/programs/fscurrent.shtml.

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