First of all– I am in no way associated with this product. I do not think it is perfect and have even asked a friend to help me create a better piece of software. However, it is useful for some things. Here is my experience and suggestions for using this software, and similar software.

My 15MF this week was on the app memrise- it is available on mobile, tablet and computer (the app. not my 15mf.) It quizzes students on a particular subject, and allows for teacher created content.

There is very little I want to add to this excellent blog based on the talk- but I would like to add a few things that I believe need to be resolved with the app.

Guided self-reflection/meta-cognition.

While it is an advantage that the app supports students to think about their learning, ,and explicitly tells them when they haven’t learnt, I have a slight issue with the fact that this ‘scaffold’ remains in place throughout the course. Eventually, the app should ask the students to select areas for development and quiz them on it. The app could then feedback whether they are accurately predicting what they do and don’t know.

 

Easy to track and assess & visual clue to planning revision session.

It is very easy to track students using this app, but it is worth bearing in mind that seeing which students really haven’t put the effort in does then mean some chasing on your part. Whenever new technology is introduced teachers, rightly so, often assess its workload impact – we hope it will reduce, reduce, reduce. This app may not do that, but it will help to ensure you that homework is completed properly.

 

Disadvantages

– Bjork, desirable difficulties and spaced feedback.

The feedback is instantaneous, always and forever. I don’t know if this isn’t a factor in lowering long term motivation, but it certainly doesn’t seem to tally with the research into feedback.

-Feedback: is it right for your students- at this moment and in this way?

“Simply providing more feedback is not the answer, because it is necessary to consider the nature of the feedback, the timing, and how a student ‘receives’ this feedback” J. Hattie, 2007

We are the experts, and we know our students. How feedback should be given needs to be dealt with by us. It needs to be tailored and well timed. The robotic element of memrises feedback has advantageous (low-threat and consistency) but in lacking the personal touch it also loses that ability to transform. As Hattie points out, some feedback has a negative impact. It is definitely keeping an eye on the impact of memrise’s feedback over a longer period of time.

In addition,the following comment on Shaun’s blog struck me in particular,

“If one wishes learners to ‘Ace that test’….then electronic quizzing until the learner passes the test might be the answer. If one wishes learners to understand the concepts ……. then a bit more sophistication is necessary and possible.” Brian (no surname given so, insert Python joke.)

Memrise may well just improve students ability to do well at memrise. Particularly if it is not backed up with good quality classroom teaching. We are the sophistication Brian refers to. Memrise is just a quick and easy way to a foundation, in my humble opinion.

What would I change about the app?

The app is not teacher centred at the moment. I think the company need to review this, every teacher that uses this app brings potentially 300 clients with them. That’s a significant market- when you consider most schools have nearly 200 members of teaching staff.

To make the app more teacher-friendly I would change the following things:

Excel spreadsheet- As with socrative a downloadable spreadsheet, or better still an automatically updating spreadsheet.

In the age of accountability, it would be nice to be able to record everything that the students are doing. On a more learning focussed point- it is a format teachers are comfortable analysing data with.

Detailed specific feedback for teachers- which questions did they get wrong most often; as individuals and as a group.

At the moment students can see specific difficult words. Teachers cannot, it would be good to not have to ask students for screen prints of difficult words. This would support teachers to adapt future lessons. At the moment teachers can ask students to printscreen, or end a lesson by asking students to display their ‘stats’ page, but surely this can be simpler.

Delayed feedback, leading to no end point assessments.

Once students complete 100% of the course, the course should switch to  a flotation type graphic…think Speed with Sandra Bullock…if it goes below the red line…BOOM! That way students have to maintain the knowledge. This could roughly calculate the likely forgetting curve, based on Ebbinghaus and other such research into this phenomenon, and then test students periodically. Dropping below could have a classroom based consequence, or perhaps a reward for those who’ve spent the longest ‘floating.

Final thought.

Some of these limitations are where the teacher operates, but I think the app could better support retention with this small adjustments. As I said in the 15mf this is not a replacement for good quality teaching and feedback, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

 

 

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