Here is a great way to take a lecture, break it up with active learning that allows the immediate assessment of the level of student understanding.
My colleagues Sucharita Ghosh and Francesco Renna are using concept tests and peer instruction to improve student learning in their classes. This requires a question or poll of the class to assess the students level of understanding of class information. The students then interact with each other do discuss their votes and ultimately vote again. While this can be done with a show of hands or personal ballots, Ghosh and Renna are making use of an automated personal response system which registers the students answers and summarizes the answers graphically on the projected screen while integrating directly with PowerPoint. Each student has a hand held "clicker" and can at the press of a button immediately cast a vote for their favorite answer.
- McGraw-Hill eInstruction Class Performance System (see their webpage)
- Addison-Wesley Benjamin Cummings, EdCue Personal Response System (see their webpage)
I am also interested in other uses of PRS in economics. One early adopter is Caroline Elliott from Lancaster University. You can see her case study at The Economic Network and her article "Using a Personal Response System in Economics Teaching" in the International Review of Economic Education.
Let me know of other vendors of this technology or your thoughts in your comments.