"I would say we have used it extensively now and wouldn't go back to the old way of doing things. Once you have had the minimal training required to familiarise yourself with the platform, it's quick and easy to create an exam or test, create a mark scheme, open it up for students to complete (or print it if handwritten), and then mark it."
James Stanforth Director of Digital Education
What specific pain points of yours has Ans been able to address?
Ans has provided us with a uniform means of creating internal exams and test papers. We traditionally have students sit internal exams on paper and so the ability to construct it within Ans and not have to think about formatting, fonts etc. saves time. Once scanned in, the real time saver has come in marking. We estimate it has reduced marking time by at least a third in most subjects and has also resulted in greater consistency in marking as well as oversight. The fact that a marker can easily mark all of a specific question, for example, ensures increased consistency as well as efficiency in the marking process. Being able to simply press the 'Enter' button to move to the next script is brilliant when compared to facing a daunting pile of physical exam scripts.
Ans has also provided much better oversight of marking and analytics on student performance. We can now see an individual student's response in seconds instead of having to search through a pile of dusty scripts. The ability to give students access to their answers and the mark scheme has also meant much more personalised feedback is possible and a lot of time is saved going back over an exam in class.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Ans has given us the ability to easily switch to digital exams, including converting handwritten tests to digital in one click. This has not only driven uptake of Ans in departments, but has also meant we have a uniform approach to online testing which has meant we have been able to implement targetted training and support.
How do you think using Ans has impacted your students?
We've had very few comments from students about Ans, which is usually a very good sign. They have no problem accessing the site on a laptop or their school-issued iPad, and the interface for completing the exam or test is intuitive. We really like being able to see the live progress table of students and it is useful to be able to give an individual student more time by moving them from 'Done' to 'Busy' if they have had a technical issue.
If a fellow teacher asked you regarding your usage of Ans, what would the first few lines of your experience regarding Ans sound like?
I would say we have used it extensively now and wouldn't go back to the old way of doing things. Once you have had the minimal training required to familiarise yourself with the platform, it's quick and easy to create an exam or test, create a mark scheme, open it up for students to complete (or print it if handwritten), and then mark it. The whole process is straightforward and you focus on the bits that matter - i.e. content and consistent marking - rather than having to waste valuable time on formatting etc.
Do you think that Ans was worth the cost in terms of money and time to onboard?
We've found that working with team at Ans has been very easy. They are quick to respond to any questions or troubleshoot any issues. In terms of value for money, I think the price point is right for the benefits we get from it. If we are able to encourage all academic departments to use it, then the value for money will be spot on. In terms of training and time to onboard, the platform is sufficiently intuitive that only a short introductory training session is needed, followed by internal support for any questions that arise.