Day 3: An Ugly, Ugly Quiz

28 08 2009

budget 192612_high(OK, that last line about disaster around the bend was totally made up. Sorry if you feel misled. I’ll give you full credit for your quiz to make it up to you.)

Day 3 was our first attempt to give a reading quiz on the iPhone. One of the research areas I am studying is how students interact with testing in an electronic format. In particular I wanted a head-to-head comparison so they could experience both traditional and electronic versions and observe the pros and cons of each, so we took quizzes 1 and 3 electronically and quizzes 2 and 4 on paper.

For this quiz I used the testing function in Blackboard.

Blackboard is a very straight-forward package which automatically grades and records the responses. My students launched the Safari browser, went to Blackboard, and hit a link which took them to the quiz. For security purposes I supplied them an access password and had Blackboard randomize the question order. Blackboard automatically kicked them out after ten minutes.

Lesson learned: the Blackboard interface is horrendous (note the creative use of an offensive color here) for the iPhone screen (see the link on quiz tools). Questions are too wide for the screen, the “submit” button is way, way, WAY over to one side, etc. This is not a failure on BB’s part, it is simply a result of moving to a smaller interface, and it’s the sort of issue we are going to face repeatedly as we adapt tools for this new platform.

I also had about 10% of the students who were unable to take the quiz online, either due to a forgotten phone, connection issues, sunspots, or some other cause. These hapless souls took the quiz on paper copies which I supplied.

Finally, our students met with their project groups, and several of them used an app called “Bump” to exchange contact info. Bump is reminiscent of the old “beaming” process which the Palm Pilot used to share data. Never in the history of higher education has it been easier for a college guy to obtain an attractive young lady’s phone number (“come on, let’s bump, it will be fun..” etc.). The older generation cringes as we listen…but wishes we had owned such tools when we were meeting ladies in college.

With one week down, I felt like maybe I had the technology stuff somewhat under control, and I felt pretty good. Then it occurred that so far I hadn’t actually taught any real content…




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