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Thoughts on Zipgrade

May 14, 2016

During the last semester, I tried out Zipgrade, an application for Android and Apple systems.  I put in on my iPad and iPhone to use in my reading class and ran a few trials with it.

Zipgrade as the name suggests is a tool for quickly grading students’ work.  It grades multiple choice activities quickly giving an almost immediate score and can show the correct and incorrect items.  Zipgrade functions using the device’s camera whether tablet or phone to take a picture and process the information.  In addition, the website where the information goes puts the information into analysis so the teacher can see quickly how well the students perform on each item as well as how well they perform on the test or quiz as a whole.

Let’s walk through the procedure for using the application.  The teacher creates a key for a quiz or an exam on his or her device.  If the students’ information has been uploaded to the teacher’s account on the website, the teacher can assign the quiz or test to a class.  The teacher prints out the proper answer sheet (there are three options: 1o items, 20 items, and 50 items) for the quiz.  The answer sheet is a scantron type form with multiple choice options for five answers.  The quiz is administered with the students blackening their choices for the answers.  When they finish, the teacher lets the app take a picture of the answer sheet and the score is processed.  The teacher can share the results immediately with the students.

I found that setting up a class made it very easy for me to get on with the quizzes, grading, and analysis.  I imported my class from a .csv file.  Students were assigned id numbers which makes it possible to use different types of answer sheets.  Since I had set up the class, I also could print out individualized answer sheets with the students’ names and id number on the print out.  This made grading with the application quick and easy for the most part.  I also had data available after the test for analysis which not only told me how my students did, but also the data helped me see item by item the troublesome items and the items the students had mastered.

It was a quick process when it worked.  However, I experienced some difficulties.  The application is finicky about reading the answer sheets because they have to be perfectly level.  Also, it took me a while at first to get my phone and tablet aligned properly to read the answer sheets.  The bothersome part was that after a few answer sheets were read, the application quit processing the answer sheets on my iPad.  I switched to my iPhone and finished.  I don’t know what would have happened if I had not had my phone with me.  I don’t know if the same problem would have arisen if I had begun with my phone.

Pricing is reasonable.  The first one hundred answer sheet readings are free.  They charge 1.99 USD for two months and 6.99 USD for one year.  There is also a Value Purchase Program for Education through Apple that costs 12.99 USD that appears to have no time limit.

I plan to use this application in my next semester and will prepare for it.  I found Zipgrade in the middle of the semester and just did some trial runs.  It is useful and makes grading much easier and quicker so I can concentrate on teaching and analysis instead of making checks on papers.  I like having the data available though the report includes a lot of information which I found superfluous, but I think there are ways in Google Sheets for me to manage it better in the future.

In summary, a quick grading tool that removes the drudgery and provides some very useful analysis to help improve my tests and my teaching.


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