Mr. Mazur argues that his new software solves at least three problems. One, it selects student discussion groups. Two, it helps instructors manage the pace of classes by automatically figuring out how long to leave questions open so the vast majority of students will have enough time. And three, it pushes beyond the multiple-choice problems typically used with clickers, inviting students to submit open-ended responses, like sketching a function with a mouse or with their finger on the screen of an iPad.
"This is grounded on pedagogy; it's not just the technology," says Mr. Mazur, a gadget skeptic who feels technology has done "incredibly little to improve education."