Marking – a mundane if necessary part of the role of teaching. One report identified it to be the single biggest contributor to a teacher’s unsustainable workload.
Assessment of student performance in tests is clearly crucial to spotting individual learning gaps and addressing weaknesses that can be strengthened through targeted exercises and practice.
And while there are lots of prudent ways in which to manage the marking mountain, edtech apps are fast evolving to enable teachers to review student and class performance in real time as assignments are performed and, more importantly, giving them deep and instant insight into those all important learning gaps.
The analysis is such that teachers can now get an overview of what particular questions or items are problematic on both a class and individual level in order to deploy bespoke and targeted assignments to improve performance.
“Apps have been a real game changer for me,” says John Heeg, an 8th grade social studies teacher at Robert Frost Middle School. “Prior to these, I used to compile data from assessments using Google Forms. This was cumbersome and time consuming, but a necessary means of organising and analyzing results. Now, there’s a decent suite of handy classroom tools that allow me to create interactive educational content that train students up for big assessments, while at the same time aggregating data so I can identify areas that require more practice, instantly.”
Heeg proposes that apps such as Quizalize and Zzish have optimised his time considerably by up to 90 per cent by streamlining the process used to produce assignments, and freeing up more time to create bespoke and targeted content that plugs the learning gaps identified in the analysis.
“The day before a mid-term assessment, I produce a mini online test comprising five questions which students were finding particularly tricky,” continued Heeg. “I used the same method for preparing warm-up tests ahead of the finals. The process took about 15 minutes. By comparison, my colleague spent a whole week in class using the same review sheets he had always used for the past 12 years. My class performed 3 per cent better than his.”
While tangible paper assets still remain the material of choice for many teachers, apps are providing a vital means of engaging with today’s modern student where traditional pedagogy is failing. Leveraging game play using colour, sounds and genuine interactivity that rewards students’ efforts as well as achievements, technology in education is starting to harness classic motivational drivers to both optimize the learning process and make assessment and marking more efficient for teachers.
One-to-one learning has shown to dramatically improve student performance, but that intense level of teaching is neither practical nor viable in a traditional school setting where both teachers and resources are incredibly limited. Software though is simulating this dynamic to give every child its own personal tutor by using big data and adaptive algorithms to deliver an optimal teaching and learning experience.
“By no means do I think that apps should replace traditional teaching,” concludes Heeg. “Rather, they should be perceived and treated like a virtual personal teaching assistant. Technology is evolving fast to help make the teaching and learning process more effective and efficient in every way. Simple classroom-ready tools like Quizalize mean that I no longer have to waste valuable instruction time reviewing for assessments. It has made, what will always been a challenging if not rewarding job that little bit easier. That, in itself, if a very welcome development, and something that every forward-thinking school must embrace.”