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Monday, February 2, 2015

Quick Key

Ahh, Scantron.  They have been a mainstay of many teachers' formative or summative assessments over the years, especially when multiple choice activities are concerned. I remember taking my cards to the grading machine in the teacher's lounge (sometimes waiting several minutes for my turn!), and when I slid each student's answer sheet in, I prayed for near silence (meaning few if any misses) and hoped to not hear the staccato click-clack revealing a student had a number of wrong answers.

Of course, Scantron is rife with problems.  The grading machine itself is not free, and in my experience prone to frequent breakdowns.  The cards themselves were always guarded and in short supply, as their cost was also not insignificant.   Assuming the student marks were readable in the first place, the machine will still occasionally read answers incorrectly.    It reminds me about clickers and why I hate them so much -- why spend all that money on equipment and waste time trying to use them, especially if they are not reliable?

Enter Quick Key, a free app and site that (much like Plickers) technically requires only one mobile device and photocopied "Quick Tickets" for students to answer on.  Never go back to Scantron again!

How does it work?  Go to the website to register for free, then download the free iOS app (Android is coming in the future) to your iPad or iPhone.  You will need to log into the app using your account credentials; info is synced between your device and your online account.

On the site itself, you can create multiple classes along with student rosters for each.  (Student ID numbers can be either automatically generated or you can assign.)  You have two choices when it comes to quizzes.  There is an advanced quiz builder through the site, complete with plugging in pictures; when finished, the quiz is saved as a PDF you can print out for students.  A second option is through the app itself; think of this as just inputing your answer key to correspond with a hard copy quiz you already have made.

Once a quiz is created, you will need to download, photocopy, and hand out the Quick Tickets to students so they can take your quiz.  (You can see that the Student ID number is important to keep track of individual results.)  Students fill out the Ticket and return it to you.  Using your device and the app, choose the correct quiz and class, then scan each Ticket individually to automatically grade and see the results in real time; later, you can export an Excel report of the individual student results.  The scanning and report generation is surprisingly quick.

Here is a short video that gives an overview of Quick Key:

How could you use it?   If you are limited in student devices and don't have a 1:1 environment, Quick Key can still save you tons of time grading and assessing multiple choice answers.

Downsides?  Quick Key only works for multiple choice and not open response assessments. Although multiple choice tests certainly can be higher order and challenging, be careful on over relying on these as your only kind of assessment!

Do you use Quick Key?  Talk about it in the Comments below.

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