The red doom-laden head and other great ideas

Fantastic chat with Andrew Field (he of SchoolHistory fame) last night. We’ve been corresponding for ages, but only just now got to speak. I am a huge admirer of SchoolHistory, and it was that more than anything that persuaded me that Yacapaca tests should be delivered in Flash.

Andrew has not used Yacapaca before, so I assigned him a trial account, hoping to get feedback by half term at least. Seems I’d not quite grasped Andrew’s timescale; shortly before midnight two pages of absolutely top notch feedback, including a report from one of Andrew’s colleagues, was in my inbox. Here’s my favourite quote:

…make more of the yacapaca design. When the quiz is loading you get the Chalkface logo and quite a ugly loading bar. As you are using Flash 7 there are a multitude of loading techniques that you could use that would make things more interesting. How about having a massive ’empty’ yacapaca head that appears and then fills up in full colour. Don’t stop there either – how about a red ‘doom-laden’ yacapaca head that fades in just as your time starts to run out?

Andrew doesn’t pull punches and he has made a list of criticisms that need addressing. But his grasp for how students relate to what they find on their screens is so strong that it’s impossible to refute his points.

Which is my way of saying, I guess, that if you want to add anything to my to-do list for this term, you’ve had your chips. Andrew has already filled it up.

Free blogging for teachers at Edublog

Three cheers to James for setting up Edublogs, completely free blogging for all those involved in education.

Connoisseurs should note that it’s built with WordPress, one of the sweetest blogging semantic personal publishing (their words!) platforms around.

James says is an totally unique project aimed at teachers, researchers, writers and educators the world over.

Basically you get to set up a free WordPress blog, 10MB of upload space (extending to much much more down the line), an enormous stack of beautiful themes and to be part of a unique community.

You could use a blog to record and annotate important resources and ideas, to propose and discuss anything under the sun, to progressively develop your thesis, to publicise and discuss your publications with the world or just to develop your digital identity.

Either way, is a no-strings-attached, open source, ongoing and freely available service for you and you’re invited to take part!

If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to contact James Farmer at james[at]edublogs(dot)org

If I wasn’t so happy in my home here at, I’d definitely want a prestigious address!

Yacapaca teachers' authoring module in Beta

The authoring module of Yacapaca is now in ‘Beta’. If you fancy playing around with a really leading-edge elearning system over the Summer, let me know. To the best of my knowledge, Yacapaca is the only system that lets you create, set, mark and monitor your own tests and assessments, all online, completely without charge. To request inclusion in the Beta programme, simply email me ian_gs[at] Meanwhile, to whet your appetite, here are the authoring instructions (PDF) to download.