I present to you The Evolution of Directions for Test Preparation:

1st Year Teacher: “There’s no homework tonight. Just study for your test.”

1st Year Teacher – 2nd Semester: “There IS homework tonight. Study for your test.”

5th Year Teacher: “There is homework tonight.  You must study for your test, and here’s how you’ll do that.”

Some things we learn the hard way. We’re educators. It’s hard for us to understand why people who aren’t as interested in education do the things they do. Mechanics are mystified in the same way when people don’t change their oil regularly.

When we tell students there’s not homework, just study . . . it implies that studying is not work. There’s no real “work” with it. “Study” is ethereal for too many students. What does it mean to study? Here’s how it often plays out with students:

“Okay, I’m checking my notes.  Yep, I have notes.  Now what’s on Pandora?”

Seth Godin tells us that “if your target audience isn’t listening to your message, it’s not their fault . . . it’s yours.”

That’s some bitter medicine, but after a thousand miscommunications of my own, I have to agree that he’s right.

Students need to know that studying is a “do” activity. Many of the best students already make studying an active process by highlighting notes, making flashcards, working on practice questions, creating diagrams and mind maps. Average students and weaker students need a nudge, a nudge that comes with directions.

A great way to turn studying into a “do” activity is to use an app like ExamTime.  Check out ExamTime’s introductory video here:

A Closer Look a ExamTime

Andrea Leyden of the Examtime team takes us deeper into their product.

What is ExamTime’s elevator speech?

Students today have access to unlimited content and learning resources. However, there is a gap in providing students with the tools to help understand, organise and absorb this content. Students need to be able to put material into a learning context. This is where ExamTime makes a difference. We’ve created a platform that provides students with custom built learning apps to make sense of it all. Students and teachers can create, share and discover top quality learning resources using the ExamTime tools.

Learning is a lifelong endeavour. Students need to take responsibility for their learning. Through our software, ExamTime empowers students to build best learning practices into their study habits – goal setting, personal learning styles, comprehension techniques, practice and testing and collaborative learning.

Website

www.examtime.com

What are ExamTime’s best features?

ExamTime provides users with a host of free learning applications in one place.

The MindMap software allows students and teachers to unlock creativity. Using the ExamTime MindMaps allows users freedom to express ideas intuitively and quickly. It is also valuable in providing context to learning material.

Learning becomes fun and engaging with our Flashcard maker. It allows users to study information and quickly test knowledge.

Online Notes are designed to quickly capture thoughts in a quick and fluid way. The Notes canvas encourages the use of all media formats, enriching the learning experience.

Testing knowledge retention is an important step in the learning process. ExamTime Quizzes are simple to create, giving students that all important feedback. Teachers are finding the Quiz feature really powerful in facilitating online learning.

Motivation is a problem we all encounter when studying. With ExamTime, users can set Goals and Tasks, and review progress with the ExamTime Study Timeline.

Collaborating with others is a sure-fire way of increasing understanding. ExamTime enables students and teachers to share resources on the platform that allows for wider access to content and more personalised learning.

ExamTime is different, because not only does it gives students access to a platform to share and discover content, but it also has the specially built learning apps to allow understanding of this content. All the valuable study tools are in one place. Unlike other solutions, it is not aimed at institutions, but at individuals, allowing them to take control of their study world. It is for use throughout their learning career. And because it’s free, it means that more effective learning is accessible to everyone.

Exam Time

How does ExamTime impact either the classroom, school, district, or community?

ExamTime is a personal learning environment, designed to help each student reach their learning potential.  Within the classroom, teachers are finding numerous ways that ExamTime is enhancing the learning experience.

Students have easy access to learning applications. Teachers are encouraging students to create content in new ways. Class projects are being formed around MindMaps and Flashcards, with teachers sharing the best ones across the classroom. Quizzies have also proved extremely popular for introducing fun new ways to test knowledge.

What are your results?

ExamTime is in beta, but we’re getting thousands of new users each week. We’ve got trial users on over 100 countries. Our success to date has been demonstrated through some of the feedback we’ve been getting:

“Keep up the fantastic work – You are officially my student’s favourite website. According to my Yr12s, ExamTime is ‘Facebook for exams’ – praise indeed!”, Tom, Teacher, UK

“When using Examtime to revise for my summer exams I found the mind maps particularly helpful and the test cards too. Great app/website. Will suggest to all my friends.” – Katie, Student, UK

“ExamTime is amazing and it’s free! I would really recommend it to every student – I wish I had found them before. Thank you ExamTime!” – Imra Hanif, Student, US

“My pupils love using ExamTime because it is intuitive and quick to use. This means they can quickly and easily make professional looking mind maps to include in their controlled assessment. They’ve been so impressed by the site so far, they are talking about using the other resources available as well for their exam revision.” – Katie Douglas, Teacher, US.

What are the appropriate grade levels for ExamTime?

ExamTime really is appropriate for all grades. Earlier grades are using the MindMap and Quizzes features in a classroom setting to add engagement and creativity. High school and university students are using all the apps in a personal basis to learn and prepare thoroughly for exams.

 Subject areas?

The variety of tools in ExamTime makes it suitable to all subject types.

Who are some of your prominent users? 

ExamTime is a solution for any student preparing for exams or willing to improve their learning techniques. Teachers can benefit from using ExamTime by creating engaging content that can be shared and tested easily using the platform.

The product is applicable across the globe. We have members in over 100 countries. There is a Spanish and Portuguese language versions available currently which are proving popular with visitors in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.

What is the technology behind ExamTime?

ExamTime is a web based solution which means that your work is always available online. Designed with tablets and mobile in mind, the easy to use functionality is available on the move.

 What is your support structure?

At ExamTime we are determined to develop something of real value to the education community. As a result we value feedback on everything we do. We have an active community who give regular feedback on product features and updates. We have dedicated support emails with turnaround times of less than 2 business hours.

What is your pricing model?

Currently all the features on the ExamTime platform are free. This will remain the case for all the current features – they will remain free-to-use for students and teachers. As the offering develops, we will look to add premium features that will be of value to large users, and these will be charged at a monthly rate.

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Thanks for that, Andrea!

Teachers can make studying more than just a cerebral mind exercise. It can be a “do” activity. It can also be a graded activity. With ExamTime, you can have students create flashcard, quizzes, and mind maps that they share with you for a grade.  You can let them choose which feature to used based on their own preferences . . . or you can give them guided structure.

Student Created Practice Quiz

There are many benefits in having students create practice quizzes before they take the teacher’s test. Have them “test” their mind to see if they can think like the teacher or anticipate the questions that might be asked. If they don’t know where to start, then there’s obviously a problem. Better students will be able to anticipate test questions rather well. This is not an innate talent, it’s learned. Average and weak students can improve this skill. It just take practice.

You can set up directions something like this:

Today you’re going to create a ten-question quiz to prepare for your test that you will take in two days. Use ExamTime and create these types of questions:

Multiple Choice – create 6 multiple choice questions.  You must have three possible answers for each question.  Each possible answer must be a reasonable answer. Do not have any obviously  incorrect answers.

Negative Multiple Choice – create 2 negative multiple choice questions.  Negative questions are worded this way:

     Which of the following is NOT . . . or . . . All of the follow EXCEPT . . . .

     Which of the following is NOT a reason that Rainsford was chosen for the “game”?

     A. He was a skilled hunter

     B. He was wealthy

     C. Zaroff needed a real challenge

     D. Zaroff could not let him escape the island

     The correct answer here would be B.

Choose from a List – create 2 choose-from-a-list questions. These questions are set up so that the test take must choose multiple answers that are correct or multiple answers that are wrong.  These questions would look something like this:

     Identify all the terms associated with William Shakespeare:

     A. Novelist

     B. Stratford-upon-Avon

     C. Macbeth

     D. The Globe Theatre

     The correct answers here would be B, C, and D.

After you’ve completed your practice quiz, share it with me and your classmates. And then practice!

 

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Adam Renfro

Adam was a classroom English teacher for ten years and began teaching online in 1998. He now works for the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the 2nd largest virtual school in the nation. Adam has blogged for Getting Smart since September of 2011. Creatives can follow Adam on Tumblr at http://adamrenfro.tumblr.com/. You can also follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AdamRenfro, and you can follow his Flipboard magazine Edu-Nation at http://flip.it/Apupn.

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