Gadgets soon to replace books in the classroom

FRESNO, California

When many Fresno State students take a quiz ... no paper and pencil are needed. They just a click a button and enter their answers into a computer. The results are immediate. The professor and the students know the grades on the quiz right away. More and more, professors are requiring students to purchase an "iClicker."

Susan Bartel at the Fresno State Bookstore said, "I think the professors use them for a lot of different reasons. Some of them use them to take roll ... some of them use them for quizzes. They can use them for classroom participation. The student can click in to answer the question without having to raise their hand."

Student Carlos Fuentes is debating whether to buy a new iClicker at $34.99 or hunt down a used one. "I'm a transfer from a Junior College and it's the first time I used one actually."

Another technological tool is a computer program called "Course specific writing practice." Professors no longer have to check papers for grammatical or spelling errors ... and neither do students.

Fresno State Student, Arianna Ramirez said, "When you write your essays it checks your grammar and your run on sentences ... aren't you supposed to be able to do that yourself? We are ... but it's just like more advanced now ... it checks it for us."

And textbooks are coming down in price - if you rent them. Fresno State was the first university in the country to offer online textbook rental saving students anywhere from 50 to 70 percent on textbooks. But textbooks could soon be obsolete ... as could the iClickers ... according to Otto Ramirez ... the director of Fresno State's Instructional Technology and Resource Center ... cell phones will be the tool of the future. Elementary, middle schools and high schools are already using cell phones in the classroom. Ramirez says universities won't be far behind. He envisions an educational world with no heavy backpacks filled with books.

Otto Benavides adds, "I think we are already moving in that direction. Not only Apple but Amazon.com and the other companies as well. They are going to produce e-books ... or e-text books."

Even a clicker is now only an iPhone app away ... at a cost of just a few dollars.

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