Two modest but useful improvements

We have managed to squeeze one last update in before Christmas. It’s quite modest in feature terms, but significant in that it is the first fruits of a 9-month (and running) programme to rewrite Yacapaca into the Python programming language.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Searchable student list. See all your students in a single alphabetical list. Find an individual student and see when they last logged in.
  • Assignments list with marking links. See what you assigned when, and click straight through to the results page for each assignment. The old assignments list was a bit of an orphan, but it has suddenly sprung into real usefulness with this update.

New quiz timing option

Have you ever compiled quizzes using questions of varying difficulty? If so, you will appreciate a small update we have just made.

Next time you compile or edit a quiz, you will notice a new option in the Timing section. You can choose between Question Timing and Quiz Timing.

  • Question Timing is the standard system. Every question gets the same number of seconds, according to your settings. Feedback (if written) is shown after each question.
  • Quiz Timing sets a timer for the whole quiz; students have to decide for themselves how long they will spend on each question. They see all the feedback at the end. The questions are still randomised, and students cannot go back. This preserves the anti-collusion feature that has made Yacapaca so popular.

This feature is really easy to use, so just for once I’ve not done a screencast for it. Please give it a go, and I would love to hear your feedback.

1,000,000 members

I woke up late this morning, as it’s my birthday. Here’s my birthday present from Yacapaca:

Yacapaca memberships at 10:00 on 12/12/2008
Teachers 38,399
Students 965,001
Total 1,003,400

This happened because half a dozen very talented computer programmers enabled around a thousand equally talented teachers to create some amazing assessments – quizzes, surveys, ePortfolios, short-text tests. These were (are!) so good that almost 40,000 other teachers wanted over 960,000 students to enjoy learning through them.

The one person who deserves most credit for this is our original systems architect Sergej Terent’ev. Sergej left the team earlier this year, but there is no doubt that it was his work that laid the foundation for Yacapaca’s success.

Super-quick signup option for students

If you are planning to get your students to try the Yacapaca Xmas Goodies, you may well need to create some new student accounts.

You will probably be interested, then, in the new “Student pick-list” feature we have launched this morning. Briefly, it is a way of getting your whole class up and running on Yacapaca, each with their own account, in under five minutes. We’ve been working like stink to get this feature out before Christmas, and I really hope you enjoy it.

Seasonal peak?

One day last February, for the first time ever, we had just over 1,000 teachers on Yacapaca in 24 hours. That record stood until yesterday, when at midnight we had had exactly 1,210 teachers visit.

All credit for this goes to the authors who have made and shared some really incredible assessment material, and what’s more, done it for no reward other than satisfaction. In particular, I should credit Helen Barnes and Mark Ricketts, from Priory School and St. Luke’s School respectively, both in Portsmouth. Helen wrote Christmaths and Mark wrote 12 Days of Christmas: The hidden meaning, both super-popular Christmas resources that are really grabbing peoples’ interest right now. Login needed for both, but it’s worth it I promise.