OK, so the Guru has been up and running for months now, but he hasn’t dispensed much wisdom about educational technology and integration. I thought that I would get the ball rolling by reviewing a piece of technology that I have been working with for a few weeks.
The Senteo interactive response system is a member of a family of products collectively reffered to as Classroom Performance Systems (CPS), or Audience Response Systems (ARS). The easiest way to imagine the CPS is the think of the ask the audience lifeline on Millionaire. Everyone in the audience is able to answer the question within a matter of seconds, thereby becoming participants in the gameshow themselves.
This particular CPS, the Senteo, was developed by Smarttech, the company behind the Smartboard.
This is the second CPS system that I have tested. The other system that I have experienced is the system made by eInstruction.
So out of the box the hardware for the Senteo is impressive. The class set comes in a padded blue carrying case and the hand sets themselves appear to be quite durable. Each set has weight to it and feels good in the hand with the top and bottom of the handset being curved, similar to a decent universal remote control. The buttons on the unit are large enough and are spaced far enough apart to avoid the “fat-finger” effect. Indeed, when testing this with students they rarely reported hitting the wrong button by mistake. The screen on the unit is a different story in terms of usability. It is very small and without color. The text looks like something from an old Casio calculator or dot-matrix printer. Then again the last CPS system I tested had no readout at all other than the feedback from the activity itself, so this is a step up from that.
As for the input unit. It is a simple radio receiver that connects to your computer via USB. The installation of the receiver was simple and intuitive, just plug it in and it works (if you have the Senteo software installed).