A revision tool for matric learners

Monday, October 29th, 2012 | software | Comments Off

Learners at school spend 12 years building up to that big moment – Matric! And then the exams are upon them and they are overwhelmed. They have so much revision to do, where do they start?  EasyPass is a handy tool for teachers and learners to ease the pain.


The EasyPass Online Assessment Centre provides question banks for 16 of the most important matric subjects. The questions are categorized by topic within a subject.  Tests are generated on the fly, with a random set of questions submitted for each learner to complete. Since the Centre is internet-based, learners can access them anywhere, anytime, and from any internet-enabled device.

The EasyPass mission is simple: to help Matriculants find out what they do and don’t know. And while they are finding out, they are learning because they will get feedback on each question.  Once they know where they are weak, they can go back to their textbooks or ask their teacher for help. The learner can also go back to the assessments to measure their knowledge gain after revisiting the material, because they are allowed to complete each test up to five times.

The target market is both individual learners as well as schools. The questions are developed by subject-matter experts, usually teachers who have retired or are pursuing other interests.

EasyPass is keen to work with underperforming schools to help them improve their matric marks, and in turn improve the learner’s chance of future success.

For more information, go to the EasyPass website, or email Moira de Roche at

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Technology takes the pain out of assessment for teachers

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Teachers appreciate the value of assessment but don’t always enjoy the task because it takes so much time and effort. 

Technology can make the assessment of learners much easier.  Consider the following:

A word processor is a great assessment tool – use it to type test papers and memoranda.  You can save these documents and next time you want to perform the same type of assessment, it will only take you a few seconds to call the documents up. 

Special software programs allow teachers to assess students electronically; it marks electronically too!  Many educational software tools have their own assessment tools that are included in the package. 

An assessment authoring tool is invaluable for teachers – with it they can develop their own online assessment material.

A voting system (clickers) can be used in the classroom for continuous assessment.

When teachers use technology to help them with assessment tasks, the only tears they’ll shed will be tears of joy.


Of what value is a voting system in my classroom?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 | technology | 1 Comment

Once you’ve introduced basic technology – a computer, a data projector and perhaps an interactive whiteboard – into your classroom you may feel the time is ripe to add other technologies.  One of them is a voting system – also called a response system.

A voting system is ideal for continuous assessment, but it can do far more for you.  Let’s look at a few ways in which a voting system adds value in your classroom:

An entire class can interact simultaneously when clickers are in use – no more passive observers in the classroom!  You’ll receive responses from each child in the class, not only from those who are always first to put up their hand!

Assessment becomes an integral part of each lesson – pause and ask a question to determine if the learners are still with you.  This serves a dual purpose: learners consolidate learning while you use the information to direct your teaching in a more effective way.

Some learners are shy and hardly ever take part in class discussions.  Anonymous responses via the clickers make it easier for them to participate.

A big portion of examination papers in some subjects are in the form of multiple choice questions.  Learners who have difficulty with this assessment mode gain valuable experience when you use a voting system throughout the year.

Most voting systems provide you with detailed learner response information.  If voting units are assigned to particular learners, you will be able to see the response of each child.  This information can be stored and used to build up a year mark. In addition, it enables you to identify which learners need more assistance.

If you’re brave and you really want to know how your learners experience your teaching, ask a question such as: “Give me a mark out of 10 for today’s lesson.”  You may be surprised to learn how your learners feel about your lessons!

The real magic of a voting system is that learner response results are available immediately – no more waiting for answer sheets to be collected and no more marking!

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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How can I use a voting system in my classroom?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 | technology | 4 Comments

Continuous assessment is an important aspect of teaching – but it is not easy to involve all learners in a class, particularly in large classes.  A voting system – also called a response system – may come to your rescue.  The system consists of a set of handheld voting devices.  The voting device looks like a simplified remote control unit of a TV set.  Each learner in the class receives one of these units to “vote” or respond to questions. 

The units are called clickers, since input is provided by clicking buttons to select chosen responses.  The clickers are wireless and operate with infrared or radio signals.  Special software installed on your computer receives these signals and interprets them, providing you with instant information about the way learners respond.

Let’s use an example.  You want to test if learners understand what you’ve just explained to them, and you ask the following question:

            A shark is a …


              A   mammal

              B   amphibian

              C   fish

              D   reptile

 The clicker has buttons marked A, B, C and D, and you now ask learners to enter the correct answer.  Each child clicks an answer – the moment the selection is made, the computer receives and records the signal.  The system informs you when all the learners in the class have responded.

Once all responses have been collated, a summary of the responses is available – which you may or may not wish to show to the class.  Let’s say 60% of the class voted for mammal: it is now clear to you that not all the learners in the class understand your lesson – they may be confused between a shark and a whale.  This gives you the opportunity to enter into a discussion with the class to lead them to the correct information.  In a technology rich classroom you can even link to the internet and show them examples of sharks and whales and help them to see the difference.

In addition to multiple choice questions, most voting systems also permit true-or-false questions.  More sophisticated systems allow numeric and limited text responses, giving you the opportunity to ask other types of questions.

A voting system is a powerful continuous assessment tool – its use will certainly enhance your teaching.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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How can technology help teachers with assessment?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 | technology | Comments Off

Assessment is not just about testing how much learners know – it is a vital part of teaching and learning.   While recognizing its value, many teachers avoid assessment tasks as far as possible because of the great admin load it creates.

When teachers use technology to help them with assessment tasks the only tears they’ll shed will be tears of joy.

Here are few ways in which technology can be used for assessment purposes:

The most basic way in which technology can assist with assessment tasks is when you use a word processor on your computer to type assessment documents, such as test and examination papers – with their memorandums.  These documents can be stored electronically – just imagine how much time you’ll save in the future.

A spreadsheet program on your computer is useful to maintain class lists and to record assessment scores.  As you enter assessment grades, calculations are done automatically – you can now put the calculator aside.  Percentages, averages, means, medians and any other statistics are available at the press of a button.  When you change one figure all totals are recalculated.  No more calculation errors!

Technology can also be used during assessment in a more direct way. Specially designed software programs, which contain question banks and allow you to change questions or add your own, are available.  You can use these programs to generate test papers even if your learners do not have access to computers.  But if computers are available for learner use, some of these programs allow you to create on-line tests for your class.  The beauty of these software tools is that, if the learner does the test on the computer, the computer does the marking for you.  How much better can it get!

A voting system (clickers) can be used in the classroom for progressive assessment.  These clickers allow teachers to ask multiple-choice or true-false questions, learners then click their answers on the clicker, and the teacher has immediate feedback on a classroom computer. 

Even if you don’t use technology for anything else in the classroom, use it for assessment.  You will feel the benefits immediately.  And when you expand the use of technology to other aspects of teaching, you will find even more ways in which your electronic tools can help you with assessment.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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Towards keeping the planet green …

Sunday, September 26th, 2010 | Sustainability | 4 Comments

We are all into keeping the planet green.  One way of doing this is by being conscious of paper consumption.

One tree can yield about 8 000 sheets of paper (of course, it depends on the size of the tree and the type of paper, but I’m using averages and round figures for illustration purposes here).  Imagine an average school in South Africa with 800 learners, and suppose 100 pages are used by each learner for class tests and examinations throughout the year: in such a school 80 000 pages are used during the course of the year.  This equates to 10 trees.  With 22 000 schools in South Africa, it means that 220 000 are falling victim annually to satisfy the demands of assessment.

Some people go to great lengths to find other ways to produce paper.  An alternative to trees is elephant dung.  Yes, elephant dung!  Each elephant can produce 50 kg of dung per day, which could be processed to create 115 pages of paper.   Such efforts must be applauded!

Potential paper source

If my maths is correct, it would take 700 elephant days (roughly two elephant years) to produce enough paper for one school; or 44 000 elephant years to produce paper for the entire country for every school year.

The problem is: where do we find so many elephants?  And what is more, each elephant consumes about 200-250 kg of vegetation per day to produce 50 kg of dung.

Isn’t there an alternative?  How about harnessing electronic means to assess students?    Tools such as assessment software and clickers are used by many teachers to cut down on the volume of paper used in the classroom.  This must be an easier and cleaner way for a teacher to make a contribution towards keeping the planet green.

Click here for an Afrikaans version of this posting.

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Can a laptop help me with assessment tasks?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009 | laptops | 7 Comments

We all know that assessment is a vital part of the learning process.  But, with the extra admin it creates, many teachers avoid it as much as possible.

A laptop has the potential to take the sting out of assessment – think about some of the ways in which this device can make your life easier.

Assessment tasks, such as test papers, project outlines and examination papers – with their memorandums – can be typed using the word processor on your laptop.  The documents can be saved for future use – just imagine how much time you will save next year.

Through email, or transfer of data on a memory stick, additional material may be obtained from your colleagues and you can reciprocate by sharing some of your material with them – this means less work for all.

Ideas for questions and assessment tasks can be obtained from the internet.

A spreadsheet can be used to maintain class lists and to record assessment scores.  As you enter assessment grades, calculations are done automatically – you can now put the calculator aside.  Even percentages can be calculated; averages, means, medians or any other statistical information is available to you at the press of a button.  Adjustments are made without sweat.  When you change one figure, totals are recalculated.  If you want to adjust the marks of all learners by ten percent, you only have to give one instruction.

You can send assessment summaries and results to the principal or your colleagues and eliminate paperwork.

A laptop can also be used in a more direct way for assessment – education software programmes specially designed to help you with assessment are available.  They contain question banks and allow you to change questions, or even add your own.  Even if the learners in your class do not have access to computers, you can still use these programmes to generate test papers.  But if there are computers available for learner use, some of these programmes allow you to create on-line tests for your class.  The beauty of these programmes is that, if the learner does the test on the computer, you can let the computer mark the test for you!  You will do well to investigate some of these programmes.

Once you start using your laptop you’ll discover its power as an assessment tool. It will become your best friend, even if you use it for nothing other than assessment.

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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