Zappers (Electronic Voting Systems)


Zapper handset and USB receiverZappers are small handsets (as used in the TV programme “Who wants to be a Millionaire”) which enable students to give their answer to questions displayed using PowerPoint. The results are instantly available as a graph for the lecturer and students to see and discuss. The data can be exported and saved using convenient Excel report formats.

Hundreds of handsets can communicate with a single USB receiver. The handsets have a long range, do not need line-of-sight and have proved very reliable and easy to use in lectures.

The system that we have are the TurningPoint RF handsets from

Used effectively, this technology has been shown to improve interaction, attendance, enjoyment and outcome of classroom teaching (Duncan 2005).


Some academic units have bought their own sets, and these are listed here, along with the contact details of the person responsible for managing their use. You will normally only be able to use sets belonging to your own academic unit.

Zapper loan service

A zapper loan service has been created by CITE and the Hartley Library.  This service is open to all academic staff. You can book up to 200 zappers – there are five sets, each containing 40 – and can request multiple loan dates if needed (for example if you want to use them once a week for a particular module). Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis, and loans are normally for up to 24 hours. Collection and return is via the loans desk in the Hartley Library.

New for 2013: One sets of zappers (40) is now available for loan from the National Oceanography Library.

Full details of the loan service can be found on the Library website at

The zappers were funded by the University’s Student Centredness Fund.


New for 2013: CITE has funded 100 licences for ResponseWare which enables students to vote using their smart phone, tablet or laptop. Any device with an internet connection and web browser can be used, and special apps are available for iOS and Android devices.

ResponseWare tutor guide (2 page PDF)

ResponseWare student guide (2 page PDF)


There is currently no scheduled training in the use of the Zappers, but CITE ( can provide training on demand for specific groups of tutors.

There are some self-study resources to help you learn to use zappers – at the moment they refer to the previous version (4.2) and will be updated as soon as possible:

  • A Quick Step-by-step Guide to Zappers – one sheet of A4 with all the info you need. Now updated for Turning Point 5.
  • How to Use Turning Point zappers in a Common Learning Space – (Turning Point 5) this PDF set of screenshots takes you step-by-step through using zappers in a CLS.
  • Using Zappers in a Common Learning Space – (Turning Point 4) this 8-minute video takes you through the whole process and includes advice on dealing with non-functional handsets.
  • Creating questions using Turning Point – (Turning point 4) this 8-minute video describes the range of question types and shows you how to create and test them.
  • Analysis of the data from a Zapper session – (Turning Point 4) this 5-minute video describes how to save the data from a session and access it later as a user-friendly Excel spreadsheet.
  • Using the Turning Point Showbar – (Turning Point 4) this 7-minute video describes how the showbar can be used to manage questions during a presentation and includes useful techniques such as peer instruction and data slicing.
  • Using a PresenterCard with Turning Point zappers – this 2-minute video shows you how to pair a PresenterCard so you can remotely control your presentations.
  • Using the Participant Monitor – this 4-minute video describes how to review the performance of the whole group and individual students during a lecture.
  • Confidence Levels – (Turning Point 4) this 5-minute video describes how you can assess how confident your students were with their answer choices so you can adapt your teaching appropriately.
  • Using Participant Lists – (Turning Point 4) this 11-minute video shows you how to create a participant list that will enable you to record the scores of individual students as they answer a series of questions in a Tuning Point presentation. It shows you how those students can register their handsets in-class, so that you can distribute the handsets quickly at the start of the session.
  • Adding equations to Turning Point quizzes – some advice about how to include math expressions in questions.
  • Instructions for students – these PowerPoint slides show students how to vote and how to check their zapper is working. You can use it as a stand-alone presentation or copy the slides to your own presentation as required.
  • How to fix zappers – if they randomly press the wrong combination of buttons (and they do) students can inadvertently stop their handsets working. This PowerPoint shows the 10-second procedure to get them working again.
  • Evaluation Template – this PowerPoint file has all of the standard ‘end of module’ evaluation questions, except the ones that require written answers. You can download this and edit as required.
  • Evaluation Template for Placements – this PowerPoint file has ‘end of module’ evaluation questions including a few that are only applicable to students on placement. You can download this and edit as required.
  • Some online tutorials are available at

RUNNING A POLL WITHOUT A PC – ResponseCard Anywhere

Turning Point produce a small handheld receiver with a screen that can be used to run polls anywhere – so this is ideal for use on field trips. The tutor asks the students a question and verbally lists the options, the students vote using their handsets and the tutor sees the results on the screen. The results are stored and can be downloaded later if required.

iSolutions has one of these devices that is available to loan to users who have their own handsets. Instructions on its use are provided in this document.


Please see our list of FAQs and their answers.


Note that the latest version of the software (version 5) is installed on all Common Learning Space PCs, so all you need to do is log in, plug in the USB receiver, distribute the handsets to the students, start TurningPoint, open your PowerPoint presentation and go. See this guide for details.

You will need to install the TurningPoint on your office PC so that you can prepare your PowerPoint presentation or add question slides to an existing presentation. Most academic staff have a Windows computer managed by iSolutions. You can install Turning Point by using this link (whe your PC is connected by cable to the University network), downloading and saving the file and then double-clicking it to run the batch file.

We recommend that ALL tutors who use zappers join the special interest group so that we can keep you up-to-date with information about new training resources, special events and software issues.

You can install the software on other Windows computers by downloading it from the iSolutions Software library. You will need to log in and then choose TurningPoint from the list of Applications. Select Turning Point v5.2 for STAFF machines. Note that the old version (Turning Point 2008) is also availbale for users of Windows XP only. Click the blue ‘i’ icon on the download page for installation instructions.

If you have an Apple Macintosh, you can register at the TurningPoint website and download the software. The latest version now integrates with PowerPoint for Mac 2011.


Duncan, D. (2005) Clickers in the Classroom, Pearson Education

Vibrant Student Voices: exploring effects of the use of clickers in large college courses
An excellent paper by Angel Hoekstra in Learning, Media and Technology 33:4 which clearly explains how clickers (zappers) can be used to good effect in large lectures.

Eric Mazur : From Questions to Concepts: Interactive Teaching in Physics
This YouTube videoclip shows interactive lecturing at Harvard that uses zappers to promote the understanding of comments through questions and discussion.

Exploring technology based continuous assessment in Mathematics and its applications
A project that explores the use of Audience Response Systems to teach maths, stats and operational research. Includes resources and a comprehensive set of references.

Use of Personal Response Systems (Zappers) Loaned by LATEU in 2008: a report that includes feedback from tutors who borrowed our systems.

Clickers in Practice: advice from Ohio State University, including some great teaching ideas for specific disciplines.

Turning Technologies User Conference – 27 October 2011 University of Surrey – a set of seven recordings of presentations made at the conference.


CITE coordinates a special interest group for University zapper users.

We recommend that ALL tutors who use zappers join this group so that we can keep you up-to-date with information about new training resources, special events and software issues.