Goodbye ePortfolios, hello Quick Assignments

We are replacing the Tasks module that underpins Yacapaca ePortfolios and Short-text Tests with Quick Assignments.

Why?

Beyond a very small number of power-using enthusiasts, neither ePortfolios nor Short-text Tests have really caught the imaginations of Yacapaca users the way quizzes have. Accounting for about 2% of our throughput, they are not popular enough to be worth continuing to support.

When?

You will be able to run existing tasks until the end of this academic year (to July 2012). Task authoring tools have already been removed from the authors’ module.

What are Quick Assignments, and how are they different?

Quick Assignments are like setting work by email, but with all the inefficiencies removed. Here is how they work:

  1. Give your students a simple instruction (one or two sentences), or send them a file.
  2. They respond either in plain text or via an uploaded file.
  3. You download all the files with a single click, or see all the typed responses on the same page.
  4. You enter the grades via a simple dropdown.

What don’t they have?

ePortfolios and Short-text Tests were far more complicated; each feature had its aficionados, and I apologise in advance for the disappointment you may feel if you are one of them. On the way out are:

  • Textbook mode
  • Multi-page tasks
  • Numeric marking rather than grading
  • Conversations with students in the comments
  • Tasks that are stored/shared between teachers

What new features do they have?

In designing Quick Assignments, we really focused on ease-of-use

  • Set on the fly. No need to learn the authoring system.
  • Works with your existing Word, Powerpoint, PDF, etc files.
  • One-click download for a whole batch of files (they never get lost!)

And some additional features we are working on, that are not finished at time of writing:

  • All-email working. Students can optionally receive assignments by email and respond the same way. No more lost-password excuses.
  • Optionally restrict students to responding only in text, or only via file upload.
  • Teacher comments with grades. You can actually comment QAs now, but the feature is a hidden legacy from the Tasks system. We are working on a combined simple comments module for Quick Assignments and Offline Assessments.

Where do I go to set a Quick Assignment

There is a button at the top of the Assignments List, and a link in the More menu.

How do I set one?

Follow the prescription in this one-minute screencast from John Cudlipp at Broughton High School in Edinburgh.

5 thoughts on “Goodbye ePortfolios, hello Quick Assignments

  1. I’m really disappointed that you are not going to continue with the e-Portfolios as I have found them extremely useful in giving less able pupils the support needed for them to complete controlled assessments. I hope you will reconsider because I have spent considerable time setting up a number of Portfolios.
    Richard

    Reply
  2. I am also disappointed with this not so much the eportfolio’s but the removal of the short answer questions section. This was a real attraction of yacapaca to me as it replicated what pupils have to complete in an exam where the quiz’s do not as exams most of the time are not multiple choice. The ease of marking all the short answer questions and seeing them all grouped together was also a real bonus. I think this is a really bad decision and massively disappointed, especially as one of the power users.

    Reply
  3. Richard and Martyn, I’m really touched that you are fighting the corner for ePortfolios and Short-text Tests. I put my heart and soul into that module, not to mention mortgaging my house to pay for it. I really believed it could change education. Closing it down was a traumatic decision for me; knowing that it had its aficionados does draw the sting slightly.

    If there had been 200 howls of objection, not 2, I certainly would have reconsidered. But then… had it had an adequate level of support in the first place, I would never have considered killing it off.

    Reply

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