It comes as no secret that correctly incorporating educational technology as a part of your pedagogical repertoire can lead to greater pupil outcomes, develop digital skills, engages learners and provides pathways for them to evidence their learning. In the current climate it feels that in order to collect meaningful data for our learners, whether that be as individuals or classes as a whole, in order to move the learning forwards our workload and more specifically marking can bear the brunt of that agenda. An argument could also be made that this requires a devotion of time for planning the learning series to ensure that every pupil gets adequate opportunities to meet certain criteria. You could also argue that testing needs to be frequent as many schools out there seem to carry out multiple data drops across the year and justify this by arguing that said information is needed for report writing, progress measuring and flight planning.
In a period of teaching where workload pressures are at their highest it’s fantastic to see so many great products out there geared towards alleviating teacher workload while not being at the expense of the pupils. Don’t get me wrong though there are still a fair few snail-oil sales people out there touting their products and my advice here is to use a few moments in a department meeting to run a free trial of the product and see if the product is fit for purpose within your context and school setting. As Dylan Wiliam said, “everything works somewhere and nothing works everywhere.” So ask yourself, is this tool right for our context?
Enhance pupil learning
Educake has certainly provided us with a welcomed tool to enhance learning and alleviated our marking workload. Over the past year my department has been using the online assessment platform for key stage 3 and GCSE Science groups as a part of their homework every other week, and in lessons, to test them on their retrieval of key knowledge and skills across the course. These assessments are low stakes and in the form of past paper style questions which are chosen based on topics either recently covered or covered in the last few months. When selecting questions, everything has links to the course specification points and can be chosen based on what you want to assess; knowledge recall, knowledge application, mathematical calculations, data and graphs or how science works. There is also the option to select material based on difficulty, this option links to the grading system for your course (A* to G or 9 to 1 depending on your exam board).
Reduce your marking workload!
Educake not only reduced staff workload due to the instant marking feature within the platform but it is also served as a diagnostic tool to highlight areas of the course that individual students, as well as whole class, misconceptions which instantly identify areas to review in lessons. This serves as an excellent traffic light as to the knowledge and skills I needed to revisit within the learning journey. Coupling this with the fact that students are receiving immediate feedback on their work and their ability to query their answers, the platform provides a good quality of dialogue that moves the learning forwards, as shown in this short video by Mark Anderson:
Easy Data from automatic marking
On the teacher end, the platform gives you a breakdown of each individual pupils strengths and weaknesses along with those of the whole class, so it’s incredibly easy to spot misconceptions and direct your teaching accordingly. In the image below you can see that question 7 was scored poorly across the whole class and therefore I need to revisit this with the class, this question happened to be an application question and most of the pupils misunderstood how to apply their knowledge to the question. A great place to start my next lesson! As you can see from the image it makes trend spotting much easier and seeing as it is marking it for you, well, you’ve lots of gained time to plan and come up with innovative teaching ideas.
The platform also gives you the three topics which the student has scored best in and the areas for improvement which is useful when heading towards the end of the year, revision planning and report writing.
#edtech dialogue & retrieval of knowledge
A feature that I really like about the platform is that pupils can query their responses post initial marking, you can see this clearly in the data set above as they are indicated by the purple question mark. This enables greater dialogue in dealing with misconceptions, provides a chance for further feedback and thus leading to progress. After answering each series of quizzes the platform asks the students what they think they have done well and not so well in, I like this reflective approach as it refocuses the pupils and reengages them with their learning.
Another great feature is that the students can review their answers at a later date, being able to return to prior quizzes and have second/third attempts at each quiz provides further opportunity, with a little planning, for follow-up work and further chances to retrieve prior knowledge. Then again the pupil may want to do it straight away as they aren’t happy with their score. This spacing of knowledge recall and skills is an excellent chance for pupils to revisit prior material which further helps their memory recall. I have found this especially useful for exam classes as it has served as another chance for revision by their retrieval of and application of knowledge along with being a skills check from the past two and a half years of the course. This is a technique advocated by the Learning Scientists and many other cognitive scientists, Carl Hendrick wrote an excellent blog on how pupils should revise and review their learning, using cognitive science, which can be found here.
There is also a function where you can look at Student League tables, another feature allowing you to see the spread of results across cohorts. While I would never share this table with the pupils, it is useful to get a picture of how much they are committing to their learning, testing themselves by setting themselves questions and their overall progress as individuals, classes and as a cohort.
You can also compare cohorts against each other, building up a picture of each year group or simply compare classes within year groups. I have found this useful as it also shows questions attempted by classes/cohorts and mean scores per class or per year group which would otherwise involve some number crunching or functioning on your spreadsheet.
A new feature, which I am yet to fully explore, is the Keep Markbook feature for holding all your data for your classes, I’m hoping in the future that they will link this to Google Suite for Education and/or Microsoft in Education packages so all my markbook data can be housed in one location and easily transferred rather than having to copy and paste columns. You can already download all your data as a CSV file, so perhaps I am being a little lazy here wanting a seamless sync to other software applications.
While I have been using the platform for only one year they are creating new content and adapting as a product which I think is important for an edtech company. The platform was also featured on the Team Science Podcast on episode two, you can listen to the interview with Charley Darbishire (Educake MD) here.
The Educake website is here, you can get a free trial here, find them on Twitter here and see their resources here.
I should also note that this is not a sponsored post, I just use the platform and it’s had an impact within our department and wanted to share it with the wider community. So when you get some gained time this summer, give it a go!