1. yoyo says

    Cute, now if they can just make a version for door to door religious nuts I’m sold!

  2. Screechy Monkey says

    Does the trap door lead to a tank full of ill-tempered squid with lasers?

  3. says

    Trapdoors are fine, but it’s really not natural selection in action. A trapdoor that releases a tiger into the classroom however…

  4. says

    You have clickers at UMM?! They tested them when I was an undergrad and they’re apparently standard in BIO I and II lectures now. Personally, I hated them. Just one more trendy thing to buy.

  5. says

    I must make sure that our plans for a future new math classroom building features this new state-of-the-art teaching tool.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    Only one big red button for the whole classroom?

    No wonder the rest of the semester is comparatively dull…

  7. Mark says

    Hilarious! But for some reason, my most recent post to Irradiatus will not appear on the article “Science contemplates the future of science journalism”. Any thoughts?

  8. Lilith says

    yoyo @ #2

    I have always found waving a painted and feathered goat’s skull* while hissing “Satan, Satan, Satan”, works very well to frighten off dor-to-door religious nuts. they never come back.

    Various friends have had success in answering the door naked, and in one memorable incident, keeping them occupied inside while his dad cut their bicycles in half with a blowtorch.

    [*I stole the bare skull from a local satanist ‘shrine’ and I decorated it for use as an objet d’art. It’s use as a Mormon/JW deterrent only became apparent later.]

  9. says

    Would have been nice to have that in Bio 100, that’s for dang sure, but more for the grad student instructor who was a YEC. Seriously. And we were friends. I really don’t know how!

  10. Ray Mills says

    Dont forget to add the insulation tester something that may or may not be able to check cable insulation or perhaps be more appropriately described as a taser. Re jw and mormons, do you think a GE venus fly trap that looks like a door would work?

  11. Anon says

    I teach Psych, so trapdoors and natural selection would be nice, but let me suggest four simple words:

    Brief, contingent, electric shock.

    Just think about it, that’s all I’m saying…

  12. Ramdic Hellbane says

    I just want to say hi. I met P.Z. in Champaign last Friday. It was fun. I wasn’t drunk BTW.

  13. elv8rdude says

    I wish Micheal Shermer had on of these for his interview at the “Creation Museum”.

  14. Ray Mills says

    It could be for the special needs primer class for creationists, then it wouldn’t be artificial selection or eugenics but a case of chlorine in the gene pool.

  15. Butter says

    What is a ‘clicker’?

    A wireless electronic response pad with which students can answer questions (typically multiple-choice) projected on the PowerPoint and have the answers immediately recorded.

    They don’t actually click, but they do encourage superficial questions that can be answered quickly, and are too often used in lieu of intelligent in-class discussions or problem-solving demonstrations. Also a cheap way for profs to give out participation or attendance points without having to think of any substantial way for students to participate.

    See Who Wants to be a Millionaire for an example of similar devices in action.

  16. cactusren says

    Excellent! I’m all for getting students involved in class.

    In regards to door-to-door missionaries (at least those that show up every sunday morning) I find it handy to be prepared by wearing a big black cloak and answering the door with a chicken carcass and meat cleaver in hand. Saying something like, “I’m sorry, but you’re interrupting a rather important ceremony,” clinches it. They never come back. And of course, I can subsequently make a tasty chicken dinner.

  17. Anne Nonymous says

    Clickers, used carelessly, can be pretty loathsome, but for intro-level courses with enormous enrollment, they do help motivate students to at least show up to the lectures and pay enough attention to know when to click. The intro-level physics classes I TA have at least one lecturer who’s actually really excellent, but even for his lectures attendance tended to fall off pretty sharply towards the end of the semester before they introduced the clickers. I teach (required) discussion sections for these classes, and since they introduced the clickers I’ve noticed a definite uptick in students at least having some vague idea of what we’re supposed to talk about that week when they come into the class, as compared to the previous, “Duh, so, what’s an electron?” levels of obliviousness.

  18. Dax says

    Cast off tomorrow.
    No I’m not going sailing. I’m getting the effen cast off.
    Seven weeks. I hate she who must be obeyed. She hates me.
    It should be fun when I don’t have to drag my right leg to keep up with my left leg.
    The first month was almost fun but the 50th time I asked her to get something out of the car she(for some strange reason) snapped.
    When I almost died in the ice and snow in the back yard she made me promise to get another 500k life insurance.
    Boy That pool guy looks strong.
    33 yrs on Jan 31.
    Both of the ministers that married us are dead. I asked her for a second chance. I’m fine but the peanuts are in the critical ward. Nasty woman.

  19. Jim Bob Cooter says

    As someone who has been on the receiving end of the clicker torture, I’ve got to say they’re the worst. Yes, teach, of course I want to show up to your garbage physics 1 class at 7:30 am just to answer your banal questions about the right hand rule(s)!
    Their manufactured obsolescence made me believe they’re just another fancy trick to fool hapless students into spending even more of their student loan money on worthless shit.

    Clickers teach to the lowest common denominator. If people want to learn something they don’t already know and can’t get out of the insanely overpriced textbook, they’ll go to class. If they don’t, they won’t. If your tests are good, it will be easy to tell who is who and separate the wheat from the chaff.
    …Using trap doors.


  20. says

    I’ve thought for many years that there should be a trap door in front of the counters of convenience stores. Try to rob the place, the cashier steps on a button on the floor, and a large, concealed trapdoor drops. You get about 1/5 of a second to react. Of course, it’s not socially practical: too many things could go wrong.

  21. Anne Nonymous says

    Jim Bob, if you think you know it all already and aren’t interested in bothering to figure out if there’s anything you don’t know yet, why are you taking the class? If there’s a requirement you’ve got to satisfy, take the proficiency exam, test out, and save your teacher the trouble of having to deal with your nasty attitude in the classroom. Or take the course online at some local community college and avoid inflicting yourself on teachers that way.

    From my angle as a TA, those clickers are actually a pretty damn decent thing, because at least they force the students like you who don’t want to care about the class to be exposed to and do some tiny bit of thinking about the material before I have to deal with them, thus making it ever-so-slightly less painful to drag their lazy asses through it in the classroom, and further making it easier to maintain a pleasant attitude toward the whole thing for the benefit of the students who actually are trying.

    And, FYI, as somebody who’s watched several years of students go through these courses, it’s my experience that the ones who don’t bother to pay attention and think the class is garbage don’t tend to actually do all that well, on the regular classwork or on the exams. The ones who do well are (a) really damn hardworking even if they’ve seen some of the material before, (b) really willing to learn and think about the subject, regardless of the time of day or instructor quality, or better yet, (c) both. So I’d say our tests do a fucking excellent job of separating the wheat from the chaff, thank you very much.

    Maybe I’m overreacting a bit here, but I’m not exactly friendly to comments about physics classes being “garbage” and “banal”. It’s a lazy lousy attitude, and it suggests you haven’t bothered to put much time into thinking about the subject. I’ve had plenty of classes with poor instructors, both in subjects I was interested in and subjects I wasn’t interested in, and it never once entered into my head to blame the subject itself for the quality of the class.

  22. says

    Pierce R. Butler: Only one big red button for the whole classroom?

    The reason for that is obvious, Pierce. It’s an Apple product and one button is all you get. Just click it in rapid succession the right number of times to get it to do what you want. (There may be problems in larger classes, of course.)

  23. says

    Oh, I have some sympathy for Jim Bob. Back when I were a lass, I had an advanced statistics class scheduled for 8.30am. Prime sleeping time. A bunch of us got together and organised a group roster, so we only had to go to 1 early morning in 4, and we photocopied our notes for each other. I got an HD on the exam (85% or up), and so did most of the others, so it didn’t hurt us.

  24. Anne Nonymous says

    Look, I’m sympathetic to complaints about classes being at a bad time (which is usually due to the vicissitudes of classroom or instructor availability, not because somebody’s got it in for the students), or poorly taught. But I’m not sympathetic to having a poor attitude towards the subject as a result, which is the direction Jim Bob seemed to be heading in. It’s the bad attitude that tends to cause students to do poorly, not so much the use of rational strategies to deal with problems like bad timing or bad instruction.

    And in my experience (YMMV) the clicker points are usually a negligible contribution to your grade, so if you really feel that sleeping in is valuable enough that you’re willing to give up the benefits of lecture attendance, then you’re not losing that much more by missing the clicker points anyway. The clickers give a small reward to people who choose to give the class really serious effort. They help students who might otherwise ditch when they’re really not such super-geniuses that that’s a good idea find the motivation to attend. And most importantly, they ensure that students at least have some modicum of additional exposure to the material and to course announcements, thus reducing the amount of time we instructors have to spend repeating ourselves to people who didn’t bother to come to lecture and/or pay attention, and they thereby also reduce the amount of time we spend fantasizing about strangling students and help us maintain a warm, friendly, nurturing attitude for a few more years until we get burned out by frustration and actually do begin to look for ways to make students suffer because we hate you all.

    Yes, there’s a bit of a lowest-common-denominator aspect to this, but I don’t think it really hurts anything to have a few points tied up in a reminder that, gee, you should probably usually go to class even if it’s at an inconvenient time or the instructor isn’t the most riveting. It’s not so different from the participation bonus that some classes offer. Also, I dunno about other schools, but where I am the clickers can be resold to the bookstore when you’re done with them, just like the textbooks. And the profs are generally pretty careful about textbook versioning, because we’re a state school, and they know a lot of people who come here are not exactly millionaires.

    I’m sure there are teachers who use the clickers to be lazy, but clickers are not intrinsically evil, and I think they can actually be a pretty damn reasonable adaptation to the lousy circumstance of giant intro-level lectures.

  25. Dale says

    Anne Nonymous wrote…

    thus reducing the amount of time we instructors have to spend repeating ourselves to people who didn’t bother to come to lecture and/or pay attention

    A student in a lab asked me why the file he was editing in his CVS repository looked funny.

    Did you go to the lecture? No.
    Did you watch the video recording of the lecture? No.
    Have you read the lecture notes? No.
    Have you just done the tutorial not 50 minutes ago? No.

    I laughed at him and walked away.

  26. Dale says

    Anne Nonymous wrote…

    thus reducing the amount of time we instructors have to spend repeating ourselves to people who didn’t bother to come to lecture and/or pay attention

    A student in a lab asked me why the file he was editing in his CVS repository looked funny.

    Did you go to the lecture? No.
    Did you watch the video recording of the lecture? No.
    Have you read the lecture notes? No.
    Have you just done the tutorial not 50 minutes ago? No.

    I laughed at him and walked away.

  27. Dale says

    Anne Nonymous wrote…

    thus reducing the amount of time we instructors have to spend repeating ourselves to people who didn’t bother to come to lecture and/or pay attention

    A student in a lab asked me why the file he was editing in his CVS repository looked funny.

    Did you go to the lecture? No.
    Did you watch the video recording of the lecture? No.
    Have you read the lecture notes? No.
    Have you just done the tutorial not 50 minutes ago? No.

    I laughed at him and walked away.

  28. Chris Davis says

    The single red button configuration is easy to achieve. It’s paired with narrow-angle PIR detectors – on the X and Y axes – that detect the raised hand.

    Piece a piss. DavisCo will provide quotes for the entire system to any interest parties. Laser-toting squid not included.

  29. says

    There’s also people who don’t read the SciBorgs submission “error” message. Twice. Dale, you’ve completely proven your own point about people not paying attention. Fecking stupid triple poster.

  30. Menyambal says

    Thanks, Butter. I didn’t know what a clicker was supposed to be used for. They didn’t appear at my college, so my first exposure was during a family reunion. Somebody had borrowed a set from their school, made a lovely family-trivia quiz, and passed out clickers to all … including me. I figured out how to mis-use the thing almost instantly, and my sister was almost as quick in figuring out that *I* had to be the guilty party.

  31. Gotchaye says

    I think Jim Bob’s reaction is understandable. Perhaps it’s the case that clickers are generally good things to have, but Jim’s complaints aren’t as baseless as Anne seems to think they are. Personally, I was forced to take Physics 101/102 in the third year of an engineering major, and it was a complete waste of my time (as you’d expect it would be for any science/engineering junior in a class full of freshmen). So I showed up to the first classes of each semester and the tests and had no problems while putting in no work. I tried to argue my way out of needing to take the classes, and tried to find a way to test out, but it wasn’t an option. It was a waste of everyone’s time, and I would have been very cranky had I been forced to show up at 8 AM three days a week. Were I so forced, I would have brought breakfast and a book and read through class, which would likely have annoyed and inconvenienced the students who actually wanted to show up to lecture.

    I certainly understand that cattle prods are a useful thing in getting students who really ought to show up to show up, but the resentment that creates in the relatively rarer individuals who are inconvenienced and not helped is also very understandable. There’s some bias on the part of the purely-inconvenienced students against clickers, but there’s also some bias on the part of physics professors and TAs in favor of clickers (they’re mostly going to notice the students having material problems with the class – how exactly would a TA pick out a student who didn’t pay attention but still aced everything?).

    Also, I wouldn’t say that Jim Bob has a negative attitude towards physics. I certainly don’t, at least. But the class was still garbage as far as I’m concerned.

  32. says

    So who is it that gets, um, “expelled”? The people who ask sensible questions (like the lady in the comic), Oklahoma legislators, the ones who stay silent (apparently like the other student), the instructor (not sure how that works, but it explains the one button), the anonymous horde at the back (maybe also an explanation for the one button?), trolls (do we have any yet in this thread?), or…?

  33. Anne Nonymous says

    Dale’s mistake is actually kind of a good demonstration of the issue.

    I took kind of a harsh tone earlier in regard to students paying attention, mostly because I was irritated with Jim Bob, but really, paying 100% attention 100% of the time to lectures and course reading and announcements and so forth is pretty damn hard, especially when a lot of it consists of novel, complex concepts which it may take a lot of time to really understand properly. And this is a big part of the reason why it’s so important to participate completely in all aspects of a course (at least, if you actually want to learn something and do well). In other words, go to the lectures, do the reading, do the homework, attend the discussions, etc., etc., etc. The more times you’re exposed to all the relevant information, the more chances you have to pick up something you missed the first time around, or understand things better by rethinking them. No matter how smart you are, no matter how easy the subject is, no matter how poorly done or poorly timed the lectures are, there will be benefits to fuller participation just because you’re getting another run through the ideas.

    The students who deserve condemnation are not the ones who fail to pick up on the ideas the first time or two through (as Dale apparently did with the comment bug). Instead, it’s the ones who don’t even bother actively participate in the class so that they have an opportunity to pick up on the ideas, as was the case with Dale’s student.

  34. Anne Nonymous says

    Gotchaye, in the discussion sections I run it’s pretty clear who’s not paying attention. They’re the ones who don’t even bother to work the practice problems we give them unless I specifically say, “this one is relevant for the quiz”, and sit there distracting other people at their table instead. They’re the ones who joke about how they just click the buttons randomly and don’t pay attention to the lecture. They’re also quite often the ones who come to office hours the day of the exam asking questions that they would know the answers to if they’d actually done any of the coursework whatsoever to date. The ones who know what they’re doing, in contrast, just finish the assigned work quickly and quietly and then either help their tablemates or pull out work from another class to do until it’s time for the quiz at the end of the period. No harm, no foul. And, if when they go to the lectures they spend most of their time reading a book, nobody gives a damn as long as they do it quietly. And this difference in approach shows up pretty clearly in the exam grades.

    Of course, this is probably dramatically helped by the fact that my university has a pretty decent proficiency exam system (basically we just let them take the final exam for the course), which would have enabled someone like you to avoid having to take an intro-level class if you already knew the material well. So I think the solution to your problem is not, “Get rid of the clickers.” Instead it’s, “Let students take a goddamn proficiency exam.” Easier all around.

    I’d also note that, even in your case, it was not the class that was garbage, it was the requirement that you take it at that point in your academic career. For a freshman or sophomore it may well have been a perfectly good class. I can understand why you’d be angry that you were required to take it, but I still find labeling it “garbage” to be kind of obnoxious.

  35. DLC says

    I know I’ve read too many of these blasted scienceblogs when:

    I have this recurring dream wherein I am giving an introductory lecture on physics and some buffoon gets up and demands to know my views on creation or if I “have a personal relationship with Jesus.” I try to explain that this is a physics class and not philosophy, and that my personal religious views are not relevant to the material to be covered.

    Don’t look at me, I’m not even a physics teacher.

  36. puseaus says

    Catapults are better. Nicer visualization of some of the laws of physics as well… could someone install one in that popemobile?

  37. Dale says

    blf wrote…

    There’s also people who don’t read the SciBorgs submission “error” message. Twice. Dale, you’ve completely proven your own point about people not paying attention. Fecking stupid triple poster.

    It happened at the same time as other page accesses failed – I admit I only skimmed over the message and didn’t read it as I should have (silly me!).

    Kind of different (as Anne Nonymous said) from been given lots of opportunity to understand in different contexts, before asking (whining would be more appropriate) about why the file looked wrong.

    Had he at least attempted to learn from one source I would have helped him.

  38. Diego says

    I figure there is a big liability issue with missing students. I prefer to place radiation sources under the desks which sterilize them quietly and without fuss. Natural selection doesn’t mind ultimately and there are no forms or questions from the administration.

  39. Pauline in UK says

    Ooh, I love the ideas for discouraging the religious whackos. The only problem is that for a black cloak, I’ll have to go into the shop that commits such outrages as Trick’s, Joke’s and Fancy Costume’s in its signage. I have to look the other way every time I go past on the bus.

  40. Falyne says

    I really wish my school had had proficiency exams. To waive the most basic intro to CS course, I had to agree to take a high level elective in its place. Sadly, they wouldn’t let me undo that deal and take the intro course as a supersenior (5-year dual degree program).

    We also had an obnoxious 8 am mind-numbing intro-to-chem class that all engineering students (including CS, lolABET) had to take. If there had been a proficiency exam, I would’ve been out of there in a heartbeat. Sadly, no.

  41. Jim Bob Cooter says

    I have sympathy for Anne’s situation and I can imagine how hard it must be to try to teach jackoffs and morons. I’m saying that it’s not fair to the kids who study the chapters and have a firm grasp of the material to force them to show up and watch the sorority girl in front of them click five clickers all at once because all her “sisters” are in the class too (general example).
    I’m saying there are better teaching tools than forced attendance. Maybe when teaching a huge lecture your options are limited, and that sucks, but treating college kids like infants is insulting. I like Dale’s approach. If someone has a question and they weren’t in class, laugh in their face.
    It’s ridiculous to force people to show up to a class to listen to a prof read out of a textbook in a heavily-accented (read: not understandable) voice. I can do that myself. Everything is more interesting when Yakov Smirnoff is reading it to me.
    And I don’t believe anyone is saying any subject is garbage. Classes that teach a subject might be garbage, but I enjoyed all of my classes, even my non-science ones.

  42. KevinD says

    Couple of comments about the clicker issue

    I’m kind of conflicted about this. On a philosophical level I am pretty strongly about the idea that university students are adults and ought to be treated that way. I never refer to undergraduates as ‘kids’ and I don’t really like the idea of giving any kind of attendance points. However I do recognize the reality of the situation, which is that students have a wide range of backgrounds and many are not equipped to succeed in university when they arrive. I’m not talking about knowledge but the skills needed to be a successful student. So my idealism gives way (a bit) in order to accommodate reality.

    Second – I think a good teacher is aware of the academic range of his/her class and teaches at a level appropriate for the bulk of the students in the class. The best students are going to learn on their own, regardless of how well or how badly you teach. Where you make the difference is in the middle 60-80%. So if clickers irritate 10 students who learn and do well and help 50 others do better then that is fine with me.

    Third (I guess this is more than a couple) – for those complaining about taking an inappropriate course. The problem isn’t the course – it is probably a perfectly fine course – it just wasn’t designed for you. Blame the administration – not the course.

    And finally – clickers are very useful for instructors. They give you instaneous feedback on how well students are understanding the material – so you can go back over something and/or try it a different way next time.

  43. KevinD says

    Clickers – some more

    re cheating – we take clickers away if we find someone with more than one. they don’t get them back until the end of the semester.

    re proficiency exams – if an intro course doesn’t have a proficiency exam that is valid complaint.

  44. Pierce R. Butler says

    Diego @ # 54: … there is a big liability issue with missing students. I prefer to place radiation sources under the desks which sterilize them quietly …

    Pretty good trick, to sterilize the missing students that way. You must teach a very advanced physics course.

  45. sublunary says

    This whole clicker thing is new to me too. I almost wish they had been using them when I was in undergrad. My freshman bio lecture was at 8am and had about 500 students. And sleep-inducing cushioned seats. Participating by means of a clicker would have helped me stay awake and engaged. It also would have helped me remember the material by reinforcing what I had just learned by making me recall answers. As it was, by the time I figured out how to study effectivly, I was no longer a pre-med and in easier classes…

  46. SASnSA says

    The way to make it natural selection is to attach the clicker response directly to the mechanism for the trap door. For each question, make one answer that is obviously creationist bait; and when a student clicks that answer, release the trap door. This way, selection occurs directly as a result of the student’s stupidity instead of requiring instructor input. Just a suggestion.

  47. says

    Just as Darwin used the undeniable logical evidence of artificial selection to prove that natural selection MUST occur in any wild population, the instructor can use the “only ones left in the class have the right answer” scenario to explain evolution in the real world.

    Takes a bit of thought, but it works. I have no explanation save creative license for the single big red button issue. ;-(

  48. Savve says

    Clickers? Attendance? Homework?

    I have to say I’m rather surprised that these things are in use above high school level.

    Here it is assumed that by the time you attend university you are an adult, and therefore able to manage without anybody to hold your hand. You show up, do training excercises, partake in group diskussions, the whole shebang, or you don’t. Then you pass or fail the end of semester exam. It is all on you, after all you have signed up by your own choice!

    This really ought to go double for you, after all, you have to pay for tuition!

  49. Anne Nonymous says

    KevinD and sublunary seem to have gotten the point. It’s not about treating students like infants. The really big benefit is that it gives students who might sort of want to learn but don’t have good study skills another tool they can use to help motivate themselves to do the things they need to do. And, well, it also preserves the instructor’s sanity by making even the jackasses slightly easier to deal with, which is better for everyone.

    As I said before, if you really don’t need to be in lecture, you won’t actually lose that many points by ditching. You can also get the points sitting there in lecture and reading a book or doing other work and only paying attention to the clicker questions. Even if you’re a super-genius, or a senior in a frosh class or whatever, it’s really not that much of a sacrifice to just be there and be inattentive.

    And of course students can still subvert the purpose if they want to be jackasses, as with any instructional tool. But it’s one of those things where the punishment is a pretty direct consequence of the crime. The friends of the sorority girl with five clickers screwed themselves out of a chance to actually learn things which might help them in life or on the exam. Same with the idiots who think it’s clever to just click randomly and not bother to listen to the actual questions. But even in these cases, the clickers have still done some good. It means that at least one of the sorority girl’s little clique went to class and heard the announcements and paid some attention, and she’ll share what she heard with her friends. And the random-clicking idiot was at least present and probably heard some of what was discussed.

    Bottom line, the clickers are really just another tool we offer the students to help themselves. Students are still perfectly free to make the adult decision to use them well or the infantile decision to ignore or subvert them, and to reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of that decision. Nothing about the clickers takes that away. The one thing they do do in either case is to make our jobs as instructors marginally less frustrating, and I think that’s worth it.

  50. dNorrisM says

    One of the few interesting things developed by the folks at the presumably-defunct show Smash Lab was using compressed air to fluidize sand in order to stop, say, a fleeing robber. Ia classroom setting you could calibrate it to sink sutdents up to their waists, necks, or beyond depending on the inanity of their questions.

  51. fmitchell says

    Slightly off topic, but did anyone else think of the “underground classroom” from Invader Zim.

    “Miss Bitters, is there really an underground classroom?”
    “Yeah, sure, whatever.”

  52. Sili says

    Re Door-to-door proselytizers: Someone here mentioned at some point how they’d been cooking and opened the door still holding their knife. When they saw who it were they exclaimed something along the lines of “You brought kids! Wonderful! We were just about to begin the sacrifice. :brandishes knife:”

    The SMBC newspost from today:

    WOW! Got a ton of traffic yesterday, thanks to some digg traffic, friendly blog links, and a few ads I bought. Over 150,000 unique IPs visited yesterday. You guys are LEGION.

    Digg, ads? No, no, no. You, sir, have been Pharyngulated.

  53. CatBallou says

    Pierce, he wasn’t referring to sterilizing students who were missing. He meant that it’s better to sterilize the wrong ones than to use trapdoors, because if you use the latter technique, you have to explain why the students are missing.

  54. Carlie says

    I see clickers as possibly serving two very good functions. One, they can give the professor instant feedback as to whether most of the class got the concept or whether more time needs to be spent on it before moving on. Second, it helps keep the students engaged in the material and alert. No matter how motivated a student is, having something interactive makes it stick better. Can they be used badly? Sure. But using a tool badly does not make the tool itself bad.