After the quiz: 5 brilliant tools for filling the gaps in students’ knowledge.

So your students have taken their quiz, read the feedback, got the score. What now? Most likely, you want students to fill in the gaps in their knowledge that the quiz has revealed. Here are the 5 tools we have built into Yacapaca to help them do just that.

1. Gap analysis

The very simplest. Click on any quiz in your Assignments page and you will see something like this:

gap analysis 1

This shows how well the whole class did, broken down by key Continue reading

New homepage design

I thought you’d appreciate a heads-up so you you know what your students are on about when they say “Yacapaca’s not there, sir!” Here’s a little slice of the new design.

Homepage Hero section

The intention is to highlight the core benefit of Yacapaca, which is actually very simple: it gets the annoying chore of marking out of your hair, while at the same time improving students’ results.

We’ve taken the chance to modernise the design too, with lovely new illustrations commissioned from Argentinian artist José Martín ‘Tincho’ Schmidt, and a clean responsive layout by Bootstrap.

Hope you like it!

Mobile devices in education – damp squib?

Five years ago, everyone was going mobile. Tech blogs were full of advice to adopt a ‘mobile first’ development strategy. In education, the debate raged between the purist all-iPad camp and the libertarian BYOD brigade.

So who won? Neither.

desktop vs mobile

At Yacapaca, we have a unique perspective. Millions of users, years of history. Rather than rush in, we started patiently collecting session data. Browsers automatically declare their parameters to web services so they can be served with an interface that fits the device. Here are the data, broken down by academic year.

And you can see what’s changed; almost nothing.

Mobile use has crept up slightly over the years; it’s mostly teachers checking student results. Students use almost exclusively desktops or laptops (we cannot distinguish between these in our data).

Why is it that as the rest of the world went mobile, education did not? Is this just education lagging behind the curve as usual? On this occasion, I don’t think it is.

One factor that was much debated 5 years ago was cost. Small cheap tablets vs. big expensive PCs. Even better, BYOD is free! Except that turned out not to be the case. At £100 each, Chromebooks are now four times cheaper than the cheapest iPads. BYOD suffers from high support costs, and large hidden productivity costs, as teachers and technicians have to adapt to a range of devices they cannot control.

But I don’t think cost was the deciding factor. Students’ primary output is the written, or typed, word. While it is true that you can create text on a mobile device, that’s really not what they were designed for. Primarily they are consumption devices, not production devices. Keyboards make them much more productive. Those who can touch type are wildly more productive.

As the excitement dies down, we’re asking what works. And it is not mobile. The trend, such as it is, is so minor that it will take another 20 years before we would see any significant change in usage. Long before then, some new wave of technology will have swept the whole debate into the dustbin of history, but that’s for another blog post, and another time.

Seeing students’ short-text responses

Short-text questions are appearing in more and more Yacapaca quizzes now (try the Summer Trivia Quiz to get a flavour). The popular Results in Detail view is too compact to show students answers; ‘short text’ is not necessarily all that short.

To compensate, we’ve introduced a new view that shows only the short text responses from a quiz you have assigned. Find it here:

short text response access

It’s just a very plain form showing question, answer, score and rubric. I find that with barely more than a glance, class-wide misconceptions leap out at me. Try it!

Read more about short-text questions on Yacapaca.

Computer Science dept saving £2300/year with Yacapaca

These are real numbers from a secondary school in England, that I got asked to work out this week. They are a fairly typical single-department customer for us; I don’t have permission to share the name of the school.


The figures are self-explanatory. Here are the assumptions that Continue reading