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Frequent questions

How do I get support in the UK?

If you have purchased your Interwrite PRS™ system from Banxia Software or one of our dealers, then we will provide you with first-line support to make sure that your system is working and that you are confident about how to use it. If you have specific issues with the software, then you should visit the Interwrite Learning support forums where you can talk to their developers and primary support staff. Further details are available via the support page.

Who are Banxia Software?

Banxia Software Ltd is an authorised distributor and reseller of the eInstruction InterWrite PRS™ system. We have been in business selling decision support and meeting tools since 1994, and can provide you with the pre-sales and after sales support that you require.

Basics

What is the technology used for signal transmission?

PRS handsets use either radio frequency (the PRS RF and the Cricket handsets) or infra-red technology (similar to a TV remote). The radio frequency handsets operate on the 2.4GHz frequency, with a range of up to 150ft. clear space and the infra-red transmitters (“clickers”) operate at a range of up to 60 ft. from the receivers. Both radio frequency and infra-red systems are now very widely used. Some settings require the use of infra-red technology, rather than radio frequency. Infra-red systems are very reliable and operate on a “line of sight”, so the transmitter needs to be “seen” by the receiver. Radio frequency systems do not need a line of sight. Infra-red systems will not interfere with radio frequency equipment or other systems in adjacent rooms. The radio frequency system scans for the channel with “least noise” to avoid interference with other systems.

How many students (transmitters) can participate in a session?

For the radio frequency system, up to 2047 handsets can be supported by a single receiver and up to 4 receivers can be “chained” together. For the infra-red system, receivers can be “chained” together to support larger groups. Limiting factors may apply more to practical teaching limits. Several of our customers have 400 to 500 seat lecture theatres fully equipped with PRS handsets and they are regularly used to full capacity. In the USA and Canada groups of up to 800 students per class are using the PRS system.

How many receivers do I need?

For the radio frequency system, each receiver can support up to 2047 handsets. For the infra-red system, the decision on how many receivers to use will depend in part on the layout of the room. The “High Speed” infra-red system supports up to 200 handsets per receiver, but often two receivers will be used (one on each side of the room), even with smaller groups, to make it easier to students to respond without worrying to much about “line of sight”.

With the infra-red system, why do I need multiple receivers in larger classrooms?

An infra-red receiver can accept only one signal at a time. When it receives a signal, it will not accept another for approximately one hundreth of a second. Multiple receivers reduce this signal jamming and allows the input from more handsets ( “clickers”) to be received in a short amount of time.

Are there recurring registration charges for students?

No, the handsets ( “clickers”) are owned, bought outright and the software is provided with the receivers. There are no recurring annual, online fees or registration fees.

Classroom techniques

Can the students see each other’s answers?

The PRS software allows you to choose whether or not the answers will show in the screen response grid. Response grids are not usually used with radio frequency systems. With infra-red systems the grid is primarily used to show that a response has been sent and received, rather than being used to show the actual response. Most teachers prefer not to show the answers in order to encourage student participation in a non-threatening manner.

How are the results reviewed with the class?

At the completion of a question (the question period is stopped or the time runs out) a results chart can be shown, that graphs the student responses. The instructor can also choose to highlight the correct answer if so desired. This is a great opportunity for discussion with the class and to determine whether more review on a subject is needed.

How do I review the results after class?

The Interwrite PRS software has a “Review Session” feature that allows you to see the results of a session on both an aggregate class basis or on an individual student basis. In addition, the student responses are saved in a comma delimited format (.csv) which allows the data to be imported into a variety of other applications including Notepad, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and various VLEs such as Blackboard and WebCT.

What types of questions can I use? Are there any limitations?

The type of questions that can be asked depend on the type of hardware that is used. With the infra-red handsets, the keys include alpha numeric values. (i.e. 1A, 2B, 3C, 4D, 5E, 6F, 7G, 8H, 9I, 0J) and multiple choice, single correct responses are supported. Additionally, “High” confidence and “Low” confidence keys are also provided to give students the ability to indicate their level of confidence with their responses.

The Interwrite Cricket handset again has alpha numeric keys and offers 1A, 2B, 3C, 4D, 5E, 6 and T (true) and F (false) and so supports multiple choice single correct (A to E and 1 to 6) and True/ False questions.

The PRS RF handset offers a wider range of question types. Because it has a two-line LCD screen responses can be constructed and checked, before they are sent. This handset supports multiple choice singe correct (0 to 9 and A to E), multiple choice multiple correct, sequence/ series answers, numerical responses (+, – and fraction), true and false and short text response.

Hardware and installation

What are the minimum system requirements?

Runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

For the Windows environment:

  • Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7.
  • Available USB port (or Serial port for original IR Receiver)
  • Microsoft Office 2000, XP or 2003, or 2007 (for PowerPoint Integration) For 2010, use Banxia’s replacement add-in.

For the Macintosh environment:

  • OS X 10.3.9 or greater
  • Recommended system is a recent Mac

Where can I get the Keyspan USB to Serial drivers?

If you are using the original PRS infra-red handsets, then you may be using a Keyspan adapter. You can get the drivers from the Keyspan download pages if you do not have the CD.

What batteries do the handsets use and how long do they last?

The handsets use either two AAA (Cricket and infra-red handests) or 3 AAA batteries (one set of batteries is included with the purchase). In all cases handsets will either “shut down” or “go to sleep” if they are not used for a period of time. This is to help conserve the batteries. With fairly frequent classroom use, customers have reported to us a battery life of about a year.

Do the handsets have a built-in code so that students can have the same registration ID for all of their classes?

The infra-red and Cricket handsets carry their ID on the back of the handset. If students do not own their own handsets and you want a particular student to have a particular handset in each lesson, then you simply number the handsets or note on the handset storage cases the numbers in each case and ask the students to select the appropriate handset each time. The PRS RF handset can be prompted to ask the student to enter their student ID when they use it in class. This means that any student can have any handset and by entering their ID at the start of the class, you can track their results and grade their responses, if you want to.

How are the receivers powered?

The radio receivers are a USB stick, powered from the PC or laptop USB port. The High Speed infra-red receiver is also USB powered, but if more than one receiver is required, then a power supply is needed at the beginning or end of the chain.

How are the receivers connected to the computer?

There is a USB connection for the radio receiver and the High Speed infra-red receiver. The original infra-red receiver (white rectangular receiver) is independently powered through a a three-way cable that connects to the serial port of the computer. If the computer does not have a serial port, a serial-to-USB adapter can be used and is available at an additional cost.

In the infra-red system, how are the receivers connected together?

The receivers are daisy chained in series with each other. Each receiver has an “in” and an “out” connection. The “out” connects to the computer or another receiver in the chain. The “in” is connected to the “out” of a receiver or left empty if it is the end of the line or the only receiver. Think about “signal out” when chaining receivers – “signal out to computer”.

In the infra-red system, how are the receivers fastened?

There are several ways to do this. Each receiver has a threaded connection on the side that accepts a ¼” x 20 machine screw. An adjustable mounting bracket is available. The receiver is very light (about 4.5 oz.) and some have reported using self adhesive tape or Velcro.

In the infra-red system, where should I place the receivers in a large classroom?

The receivers should be placed so that a given handset ( “clicker”) signal is detected by only one receiver for efficient use of the PRS equipment. This can be accomplished by placement in separate locations in the room. In large lecture halls the receivers are often located in the ceiling or along the side walls. There are several ways to do this. Each receiver has a threaded connection on the side that accepts a ¼” x 20 machine screw. An adjustable mounting bracket is available. The receiver is very light (about 4.5 oz.) and some have reported using self adhesive tape or Velcro.

Receiver placement considerations include:

  • Make sure height is sufficient to avoid any obstructions of the signal (e.g. the presenter, podium, etc.)
  • Adjacent receivers should be kept 20-36 feet apart.
  • In a tiered room, receivers on the side should be place higher than the ones toward the front of the room
  • so that people in the back of the room are pointing at a slightly upward angle.

Software

What are the software license restrictions?

When PRS is purchased, the software is site licensed to the institution purchasing it for use with the PRS hardware. This means that any number of copies may be made for computers owned by the institution on which PRS hardware will be used. Copies may also be made for personally owned computers used for class preparation or teaching at the purchasing institution.

How can I upgrade my PRS software?

Existing users can download the latest software at: http://www.interwritelearning.com/support/software.php

How can I use my Microsoft® PowerPoint files with PRS?

Interwrite PRS software is an independent application that operates on Windows, Macintosh OSX and Linux platforms and can easily import graphics for PRS generated questions. For Windows users, a Microsoft® PowerPoint Add-In is also provided. This PRS Add-In allows any Microsoft® PowerPoint slide to become a PRS question slide for quizzing and polling.

How does the Response Bar work with PowerPoint on the Mac?

We have put together a PDF to explain how you can get the best from the Mac version of Response.

Can questions and student responses and grades easily be exported to a data file for use in Microsoft® Excel or Virtual Learning Environment such as WebCT and BlackBoard?

Data is saved in a simple ASCII comma delimited file format (.CSV) that can be easily read as an Excel data file or imported into other grade book programs. Questions are saved in an XML format to support a standards-based approach.

How do I create questions using PRS?

Questions can be easily created through several methods. A simple question authoring tool is included in the Interwrite PRS package. Also included is a PowerPoint Add-In module that allows you to quickly and easily turn any Microsoft® PowerPoint slide into a PRS question slide. An XML import capability is also included which allows prepared questions, responses and correct answers provided by book publishers to be quickly imported into your Lesson. Questions may also be created “on-the-spot” during your class time with InterWrite PRS.

Can I import graphics into my questions?

Yes, the PRS software supports standard graphic formats such as .jpeg, .png and .gif.

Can a question be created “on the fly” during a class?

Questions may be created “on-the-fly” during a session by using the Add Question function. This activates the PRS Question Authoring tool where you can type in your question. You can also utilize pen-based tools, such as the InterWrite Pad, to create freehand questions in the graphic window section of the Authoring tool.

Can the results of a question be displayed “on the spot”?

Yes. The software allows you to set each questions to show a graph of the responses either immediately, when you choose to or when all of the questions have been presented. Interwrite PRS can be run in a No Lesson mode, where the questions are in a separate application, or even written separately, such as on an OHP or whiteboard.

How does a student tell if their response to a question has been received? Can the students change their responses?

In the infra-red system, PRS uses a response grid which is displayed to the class and shows when a response has been received by grid squares changing colour. The projected grid image can include items such as the students name, nickname or unique transmitter (“clicker”) ID based on preference settings. With the radio frequency systems there is no need to have a response grid, since send and received confirmation is given directly from the handsets. In the case of the Cricket, this is done by coloured LEDs under “tick” (green) and “cross” (red) symbols on the handset. On the PRS RF handset the words “sending” and “received” are displayed, giving the student immediate feedback on the status of their response.

InterWrite PRS includes a “chances” option on each question, which allows students to change their responses on these questions. The settings value can be set from 1 to 99, based on instructor preferences. Only the last response is counted. The number of times a student responded is also tracked in the session.

Does the Interwrite PRS software have a “summary” feature that allows the instructor to immediately display the results for a particular question (e.g., as a histogram) for class discussion?

Yes, responses can be displayed in a graph format allowing the instructor to see the distribution of responses. A “% Correct” value is also provided for each question providing further information to the instructor. The correct answer can be toggled on/off supporting the instructor’s teaching methods. At the end of the question, the instructor can click to see the details of who responded and their specific response.

InterWrite PRS also includes an instructor window, which if a dual display environment is used, the instructor can see the responses for a question as students are responding. This allows the instructor to pause and provide any additional information if desired.

Is the InterWrite PRS software/hardware that drives the system compatible with other transmitters (“clickers”)/receivers? Other software applications?

The Interwrite PRS software is proprietary and operates only with the Interwrite PRS hardware at this time. As such, the Interwrite PRS software is provided at no additional charge for Interwrite PRS hardware users. PRS uses XML and .csv files to provide a very broad standards-based approach.

Interwrite Learning publishes a PRS API that allows any software developer to work with the PRS hardware.

What technical support is available for Interwrite PRS?

Live phone support is available on 1-800-856-0732 or 1-480-443-2214, Monday to Friday 9am (EST) to 5pm (PST). You can also submit your question through our Internet site at http://www.interwritelearning.com/support/contact.php. In addition, the Interwrite support site provides you with a Users’ Forum where you can discuss your PRS questions and issues with fellow PRS users, training videos and the Interwrite PRS User’s Guide.

Cleanup link

Cleanup utility for Windows
Cleanup utility for Mac