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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ExamView

So, in my last post I talked about ExamView. In this post I will explain more about the program and how it works.

There are four different programs that come with the suite. Today I will concentrate on the Test Generator.

This program is divided into two parts: a Test Builder and a Test Bank. The test builder allows you to create a test for your students to take. You can print it off and have them answer the questions on the printout.

You can also print out a bubble sheet for your students bubble in (a lot like the Scantron, except a lot cheaper). You then need a scanner (preferably with an Automatic Document Feeder) and you will be able to get the results in a few minutes (depending on your scanner speed). This has been one if the key features that sells this program when I talk about it. It is tons cheaper than purchasing a scantron and you can use regular paper and not scantron sheets. However, from what I can see, it will scan from scantron sheets as well (with a scantron scanner of course).

There are several different types of questions that you can create. These are:

  • True/False
  • Modified True/False (where test takers need to explain WHY an answer is True or False)
  • Multiple Choice
  • Multiple Response
  • Bumodal (can change question from Multiple Choice to Completion with the click of a button)
  • Yes/No
  • Numeric
  • Completion (like fill-in-the-blank)
  • Matching
  • Short Answer
  • Problem
  • Essay
  • Case
  • Other (these last five are the same type of question, just with different names)

The test bank allows you to create just that--a bank of questions. Each bank can hold up to 250 questions. It is just like the test generator in creating questions, but you wouldn’t print off a test from the test bank.

In the Test Builder you can scramble the questions and answers. This is helpful since it makes it easy to just put “A” as the correct answer in the Question Bank, then scramble them in the Test Builder.

You are also able to import or copy and paste pictures, tables, symbols, and hyperlinks into a question. There is also an equation editor to easily create math problems as well as a Graph creator.

One fantastic feature is that many publishers already have question banks created for many of the books they publish. So, if you already have a book you use in your class, you might want to see if your publisher already has banks available.

Since eInstruction owns ExamView, it is easily integrated into their CPS clicker software (I’ll talk about that in a later posting).

I use ExamView to create questions that have to do with the IC3 exams. I use these same questions to teach about the different subjects of the IC3 exams using the clickers that I will explain in another post.

In my next post I will discuss the Test Manager and Test Player.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

ExamView, UTIPs, and CPS Clickers

OK, so first of all I've used the ExamView softare for quite some time now. I don’t even remember when I first started using it. I find it a great piece of testing software. Before I get into ExamView, let me give you some information about a testing software we have available in Utah.

The Utah Education Network (UEN) has developed a really great databank of questions for teachers in Utah to use. It us called the Utah Test Item Pool or UTIPs. They even have a way for teachers to set up a test for students to take online. It is a pretty good piece of software, however it does have it’s drawbacks (as most pieces of software do). One if the biggest in the past is that if hundreds if students within the state are taking tests online, it can bog down the system. Also, if your network connection in your school it district goes down and you have planned on having your students taking that test, you are pretty much up a creek.

However, what I REALLY like about UTIPs is the databank of questions available. A lot of times questions that weren’t used on the end-of- level tests are placed here fir teachers to use. However, the drawback to this is if you are unfortunate enough not to be one of the core teachers (math, English, or science) you will have to create your own questions.

I have noticed that using ExamView allows me to create a test that my students can take in out local network. This helps if our district Internet connection goes down (not that it does frequently, however it has gone down at inoppurtune times). ExamView also helps because if the great reports it has. I’ll go into those reports at another time.

Another great reason to use ExamView is because it is owned by eInstruction. This is a company that also creates what is known as “clickers.” Although not the only company to make these clickers, it is one if the best sets around. I have even had people tell me that they have used them in their college classes at BYU and UVU.

These clickers are some if the best technology around for teachers. It allows teachers to evaluate students’ knowledge of anything right now. They also allow for a safe environment for students.

It is really nice to ask a question and see where the while class is on their knowledge of that subject. Of course one question does not really give you that perspective. However as you even ask one question most clicker software will tell you what percentage if the class got or guessed the question correctly. If a low percentage got it right, you as the teacher can spend a few minutes talking about that subject. This can spark a great discussion with students because there will be inquisitive students that will always ask more questions about the subject. It is always fun to talk about a topic that students thought they knew, but is obvious they don’t. I always like to throw a re- worded question a second or even third time to see how many students were paying attention before.

Students can feel safe because most clicker software won’t show if the student got the question right or not in front of the class. I always tell my students that if they were the only one in the class that got it wrong, they could laugh at the person that hot it wrong and no one will know that it was them.

eInstruction’s Classroom Performance System (CPS) is a pretty good piece of software. As I mentioned before, it integrates with ExamView quite easily. It is also an east interface to use. When you have “engaged” a lesson there are several options availableyo you. You can randomly puck a student and even wait until all students have been picked before starting the list all over again. You can also set it up so that it only picks the students who ate present that day. You of course can see a breakdown of what percentage of students answered the options that were available for the question.

One of the funnest features is the Top Ten list. This will give students a certain amount of points if they guess the question right. At first it is east to see who got the question right and who didn’t, but after about 5-6 questions it isn’t that easy. Also it allows you to give the first student who got the question right extra points. This is a real motivator to get in as soon as possible. However, it only goes to the first person that got it RIGHT. Also, if they guessed right, but then changed their answer, the extra points go to the next person. My students to crazy trying to get in first, plus they are always watching the points of their friends and calling them out when they pull ahead if them.

OK, so this entry has gone on way too long, and I may have talked too much, so I will end it here fir today and puckbit up tomorrow.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

History

I am always tweeking the way I teach my classes. Almost every year I have either changes some little thing or have done a major overhall of my teaching methods.

For a few years I had students working at their own pace on a workbook I put together (it was over 100 pages long and took forever to print the way I wanted it to). I quickly found out that this was not helping my students to learn the material in order to pass the IC3 exams. I wasn't having any studets pass the practice tests with a good enough score to actually pass the real exams.

Then one day something happened to our network and the test I was going to have my students take on the network wasn't available. So as usual I had to punt and work something else out. The CTE department for our district had purhased a set of "clickers" for each school. At first I thought they were a waste of money. However, since I didn't have my network to work with I decided to try and use these clickers to have my students take the test.

They didn't do so well on the test, however I found that using the clickers helped me to see where they were at immediately. I didn't have to wait until the end of the test to know that they hadn't learned anything from my workbook. I was intrigued. However, it would take another year or two for me to figure out a way that would help my students to learn the material enough to be able to take and pass the real IC3 exams.

My department had purchased the old IC3 practice tests. These were really great because the tests looks and feels like the real test environment. I had used these as a final exam before, but a I mentioned before, it really wasn't working too well. So I decided to show the practice test to my students on my LCD projector. I could show them how to complete the tasks they were being asked to do so they would know how to do them when they took the tests. The biggest problem was that every time you start the practice test it was a different test. You might have the same questions here and there, but hardly ever in the same order. Now as a test, thisbis really great, but to use it as a teaching tool seemed like a major problem. Also, I found that after awhile the students seemed to get bored. This is where I started mixing some ideas.

Some of the questions on the practice tests are knowledge questions (i.e. multiple choice, etc.). I brought out my clickers for these questions and the students were really engaged in the learning proces.

I quickly found that I could teach using the clickers and the practice tests. On the performance questions I could randomly pick a student to come to my computer and try to accomplish the task. I put my students into "teams" and if the student that was picked can do the task, then the team gets to click in die extra points. If the student cannot complete the task, then another student us randomly picked.

This has proven to work REALLY well. I have students who are more engaged in their learning. I even am having more and more students being prepared enough to actually take the IC3 exams and pass them!

In my next couple of entries I will write about the software and hardware that I use. I will also write about my current project of making my own practices for the performance questions.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Background

To give a bit if background on myself, my name is Phil Hanney (there are actually three if us in the world). I have been a computer Teacher at Orem Junior High School for the past eleven years.

I teach many classes. One of my favorites is called "Computer Technology." It is a required class in order to get a diploma in Utah. As I tell my students, if you complete all of your high school requirements and don't pass Computer Technology, you will only get a certificate of completion. I will write more about the class in another post.

One of the ways to "test out" of the class is to pass Ceriport's Internet and Computing Core Certification or IC3. The IC3 is also an option for the final for the class.

I passed the IC3 exams back in 2002 when they first came out. I have since passed the 2005 version as well.

What I hope to do with this blog is to show how I teach my course and hopefully start to collaborate with other teachers so that we all can become better facilitators for our students.

Sent from my iPod