I completed my undergraduate degree in 2013, and the majority of my tests, and even some final exams, that year were taken on the classic blue Scantron testing forms. These forms, if you’re not familiar, are answer sheets with a set of blank ovals that correspond to questions on an examination. Bar codes mark the Scantron paper for automatic processing, and each series of ovals will return a certain value. How technologically advanced, right? Sure, Scantrons have been around for a while. I remember using them as a freshman in high school, and probably even before that. You could say I was used to them, but I never thought: there has to be a better way. I probably never thought this because I was never the teacher that entered the answer key wrong, resulting in a batch of completely incorrectly graded examinations, causing that teacher to spend time and energy to regrade them by hand late after school one day, which was the very thing you tried to avoid when deciding to use the Scantron in the first place.
It’s interesting learning the viewpoint of other side of the classroom as a graduate student in a Masters of Arts in Teaching program. Recently, in my Technology class, we were introduced to Zipgrade. Zipgrade was designed because someone did think: there has to be a better way.
Zipgrade is an app for iOS or Android that turns a teacher’s device into an optical grading machine for grading and organizing paper, multiple choice assessments. Students turn in their completed answers sheets, and the teacher holds her device over the answer sheet as if to take a picture. The Zipgrade technology reads the students answer sheet and processes the grade immediately on the spot. Did I mention the students can use any writing utensil that they desire, except for a highlighter? Oh, and that you don’t even have to spend time tediously making sure you have completely filled in each oval, leaving no eraser marks or excess pencil marks. Those old classic blue Scantrons of the past required a No. 2 pencil, and PERFECTLY marked ovals. I remember that tiny tinge of stress I felt when turning in a Scantron test to my teacher worried that the answers I changed weren’t perfectly erased, or that the answers I filled in weren’t perfectly completed. Believe it or not that could affect your grade, and the fault fell on the student.
Zipgrade is making Scantrons a thing of the past. The answer sheets are even printable and the technology can scan over 20 quizzes a minute. The grade results are accessible and organized within the app, and corrections can be made without ever having to rescan. How nice! However, I think one of the greatest parts about Zipgrade is the immediate feedback to the students. I know that that is something I would have definitely appreciated in undergrad and high school.
I definitely plan to use Zipgrade with my elementary students one day. Who knows though, someone could already be thinking- there has to be a better way!