Click to Engage: Using Keypads to Enhance Deliberation

January 14, 2013

Keypads have made their way from game shows and talk shows to higher education settings, to which much of the literature pertains. The uses continue to expand to other arenas, with an emerging body of literature discussing the use of keypads for public participation efforts during town hall meetings and other similar convenings. Keypads allow meeting organizers to interact more directly with audiences while capturing and displaying results in real time. When used well, they can increase participant satisfaction, improve interaction and process flow and assist in capturing useful data. When used poorly, however, they can dominate a meeting or artificially replace face-to-face communication.

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the use of keypads as part of well-constructed engagement and deliberation processes. We are particularly focused on the use of keypads to support deliberative forums and meetings tied to collaborative problem solving. Such meetings are often designed and run by impartial facilitators, who bring a broad range of stakeholders together across perspectives to increase mutual understanding, work through difficult issues and move toward productive collaborative action.