Clicker review eInstruction Response on Mac OSX

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The eInstruction clicker system for audience interaction - clicker, USB receiver, PowerPoint integration, and projector output
The eInstruction clicker system for audience interaction - clicker, USB receiver, PowerPoint integration, and projector output

eInstruction is a company making clickers for audience response in lectures and seminars. As of Aug 2013, eInstruction is owned by a previous competitor Turning Technologies. For the time being, the eInstruction software Response is being continued and works in parallel with Turning software.

This page is a review of the hardware clicker CPS Pulse and the accompanying software Response v6.71 (12/2012) and it update v6.74 (04/2014). The software appears to be mostly in Java and thus runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. I'm testing on a Mac, so the comments may not extend to the other run-time environments.

Image:0stars.png update: development stopped! back to no stars (2014-10)

eInstruction, the makers of Response have been bought by Turning technologies. This, according to a local salesperson, means development of Response has stopped. Instead the software team of the recently fused company will focus on other programs including Flow.

Image:1stars.png update: Response 6.74.0.5 (2014)

After deleting the Response preference file (Applications/eInstruction/Response/Prefs.ps) the Powerpoint plugin finally started working (screenshot). Using the plugin instead of Response, the clicker software also no longer forces an unwanted exit from the PPT Presenter Mode. The Response window is still badly designed (see screenshot) - my major issue with the software. The installation is still as needlessly cluttered as in the previous version, leaving files all over the computer. It still too many steps from creating a quick quiz since too many options that most lecturers won't use have to be set/skipped, e.g. when setting up the class.

The PRS Add-in slows down Powerpoint 14.3.7 on a OS 10.9.4 MBP Pro Retina test system. Thumbnail generation for a 20 slide presentation takes over 10s versus 1-2 seconds with deactivated plugin.

Image:0stars.png Mac software: Response v6.71 (2012)

Installation

  • The installation is very cluttered. The application should limit itself to one directory but instead dumps often various files with subdirectories into no fewer than 4 different locations: home, applications, documents, and library folder. Couldn't be much messier!
  • The name space for files is often too short. Are we still in the 8+3 era?
  • Ignores the custom path during install. I selected Applications/eInstructions. The device manager was installed in a separate directory named eInstruction without s. What???

Use

  • The windows don't behave properly, for example, they cannot be minimized. And worse, a 2nd window can block another, e.g. preference pane makes the response bar inaccessible.
  • The clicker control panel is oversized and largely empty. It is also always on top blocking what's underneath.
  • The clicker panel when using it from Response w/o the Powerpoint plugin breaks the Presenter View. Whenever I start a question, it briefly exits from Presenter View and jitters back only if I click onto a Powerpoint window.
  • The Powerpoint plugin ignores toolbar customization and instead always resets to default (toolbar position reverts, icon only resets to icon+text).
  • Font is too small in the Powerpoint plugin window and there's no obvious preference command to increase it. On my MacBook Pro it looks like 6 or 7 point Arial.
  • Deactivates common shortcuts like Cmd+W to close the question results summary window, for example.

Data analysis

  • Clicker answers cannot be exported into a convenient format, i.e. a spreadsheet last allows for fast analysis and number crunching. Instead Response creates an export in a strange RTF format that only Word can convert and that is composed of table cells / text boxes rather than text. PDF export is also possible but similarly inconvenient.
  • Clicker IDs are not ordered in Response exports which makes them hard to compare.
  • Points are not counted in the data output despite the ratio of correct answers being listed.

Bugs

  • The correct answer is not saved for questions set up from within Powerpoint. The question type is stored but the correct answer is lost despite pressing the accept button.
  • Response windows on OSX are not native and cannot be resized.
  • The Response plug-in for Powerpoint significantly slows the software, i.e. thumbnails are generated very slowly.

(These reports are all for Response on OS X)

See also

Personal tools