Ahhhh – take a deep breath
Spring is in the air. That means daffodils and longer evenings and extended outside adventures, oh, and exam season for your poor pupils!
Still, it’s also the time EdTech comes into its own.
So, just what are the best-in-class revision apps? What are students actually using? Which ones do they return to time and time again? And most importantly, why?
Let’s look at some of the options and products open to you. Some you’ll know well and some may surprise you.
We’ll give you the lowdown on platforms that are using all the strategies of gamification to incentivise learning:
You want their revision to be as instantly addictive as Insta, Snapchat, or TikTok!
AI personalises and adapts content so students avoid the temptation of coasting. Learning the same stuff again and again sort of feels good, but the incremental accumulation of marginal gains feels better, and leads to the most satisfying success, both in the short and long term.
The best products understand the importance of retrieval practice, spaced repetition, incrementally increasing difficulty, cognitive load theory, and the limitations of working memory. We’ll take a look at EdTech designed with this in mind.
We know what keeps teachers awake at night. Following on from last week’s theme of EdTech explaining complex current affairs to our students, let’s start with the best explainer content. Stuff that eases that “have I covered all the syllabus?” panic that strikes in the night.
At this time of year, it’s all about course coverage: “Did we get through everything?”
No one has an easy ride, but some subjects – the sciences? – have it harder than others.
Thank the stars for explainer content – video or otherwise – that’s great for plugging the gaps, as well as revisiting key topics, or consolidating and supplementing existing knowledge.
The following top-rated products really take the heat off when the heat is on.
Used by over 5,500,000 students, Seneca Learning is one of the fastest growing homework and revision platforms in the UK, with 250+ exam board specific interactive courses. Students can pick from 1000+ KS2, KS3, GCSE and A Level courses based on exam board specifications.
It helps teachers save time marking homework, while monitoring students’ progress, and improving study engagement. Pupils love it because it’s interactive, colourful, and pitched just right to all ability levels.
Educake got a nod last week, but we’d like to say a little more.
Another teacher time-saver and one of our top-rated products, the award-winning online assessment and revision platform caters for science, English, geography, history, maths, and computer science. Come revision season, it’ll prove invaluable, setting homework, and then marking and analysing results. Specification-matched tests can be set in seconds, and teachers get immediate insights into pupils’ strengths and weaknesses. As the clock ticks, students will really value getting instant feedback.
Best of all, Educake uses all the principles of retrieval practice to help students recall, revise, and retain past learning more effectively.
PG Online also helps teachers make the most of these last weeks of revision, providing editable lesson plans for business, computer science, IT, science, maths, and design and technology, while winning multiple awards along the way!
Designed for all examining boards at KS3-5, each topic comes with a complete PowerPoint presentation around which to structure the lesson, a worksheets and examination-style homework, each with answers, and final assessment. A teaching guide then brings the whole lesson together with extensive notes to support new and non-specialist teachers, as well as ideas to inspire seasoned subject experts.
We know, for many, it never went away.
Textbooks, often written or at least approved by examiners for teachers, provide the reassurance needed to steady the ship as your charges sail off into the distance. The advantages of digitalisation are increasingly undeniable. For one, students with devices can access revision notes anytime, anywhere. Let’s look at two flagship platforms.
More than just a digital textbook, Kognity’s curriculum-aligned platform for the IBDP and IGCSE combine the highest quality interactive content with their data-driven formative assessment approach. Pupils, for example, can battle classmates from home with quickfire questions, and there are also interactive tools with explanatory videos and 3D simulations.
Used in over 100 countries, Kognity facilitates automatically corrected assignments and individual student statistics, saving teachers time on admin while enabling a more scalable personalised learning experience to their classes.
And let’s not forget Classoos. One of the big game-changers with the likes of Kognity and Classoos is that teachers can easily annotate textbooks, add detailed notes and relevant links, and highlight key revision passages, while sharing all this with their colleagues and classes.
Some teachers, in reality, feel a little guilty overusing a textbook. They like to make their mark. They want to make the textbook their own. Classoos allows teachers to reinvent the textbook in their own image.
And with so many revision guides to choose from in the Classoos library, they’re flying off the digital shelves, with students buying privately and schools buying for their departments for revision lessons.
Flashcard apps and the like are great for low-stakes testing, whereby students can make mistakes, on their own, without fear of embarrassment. As one reviewer put it: “Children are independently accessing and progressing without the pressure of peers being aware”.
This is one domain where EdTech is really delivering on its promise. This is the tech that young people are turning to time and time again.
Teachers can effectively outsource rote-learning and retrieval practice, giving them more time to focus on the application of that knowledge. (More of that in a minute.)
AI is increasingly adept at setting, assessing, and then tailoring student work.
But let’s face it, the big barrier to revision is often motivation – or rather lack of it.
The best revision apps, however, look and feel just right, which is why students genuinely grow to love them.
Little and often is key. Slow and steady wins the race. Starting early with achievable and measurable goals makes all the difference in the long run.
Quizlet, founded by 15-year-old Andrew Sutherland back in 2005, has been around so long it needs no introduction. And that’s a sign of its quality and now a key strength. With time ticking down, students will be grateful that there are so many existing quizzes, so they don’t need to make their own.
Created by teachers, lecturers and other students over the last seventeen years, there are literally thousands already out there, along with a database of millions of pre-created study sets on thousands of topics. And they’re easy to customise. As well as flashcards, there are timed games, adaptive questions, and practice tests. And Quizlet’s new “explanations” show you step-by-step approaches leading to solutions to tough problems in 64 subjects.
Tassomai is also worth a look. Their multiple-choice micro-quizzes reinforce knowledge through targeted repetition, like a flashcard. The quizzes are supported by short explainer videos and curated links to relevant external resources. At the same time the algorithm is learning each student’s strengths and weaknesses, using this information to target gaps in their knowledge and provide feedback to teachers on which areas individuals and entire classes need help with.
Originally designed to support GCSE science, Tassomai has expanded to cover KS3 and KS4 English (literature and language), maths and science.
Like much of the EdTech above, all this reduces the time teachers spend analysing their students, meaning they can focus on teaching and targeting intervention.
GCSEPod is acquiring a loyal following due to its unique versatility. The platform fully integrates with a school’s MIS with the added benefit of single sign-on, making the delivery of a fully supportive, blended learning strategy easy and manageable.
GCSEPod provides top-quality content for 28 GCSE / IGCSE subjects, and content is delivered through their unique, anytime, anywhere “pods”, which teachers can easily monitor.
Again, low-stakes assessment can make all the difference. “Check & Challenge” allows students to evidence their progress and gives teachers the ability to pinpoint knowledge gaps and intervene appropriately. Auto-generated boost playlists then target any areas where extra learning is needed.
The best apps make information retrieval automatic. Thanks to the quiztech above, your students can conjugate their verbs as easily as they can say their own name. But knowing stuff will only take them so far. Application is all.
Sadly, the most important stage of revision – getting match or exam-fit, as it were – is hard brainwork, and it’s the bit that even the most willing and able students avoid. Most find it as alluring as putting down their phones and tidying their bedrooms.
Let’s turn to products that pride themselves on taking some of the pain out of exam-style questions and practice papers.
EdPlace activities, for example, take between 10 and 20 minutes, with students earning points for completion towards personally motivating rewards. And activities have three levels of difficulty, with students unaware which they have been set, promoting subject confidence and positive self-esteem. Future tasks are then “auto assigned” based on their results.
EdPlace has a vast catalogue of interactive and multi-choice activities, along with thousands of worksheets from KS1-4 in English, maths, and science, each one created by a teacher with no less than 5 years’ teaching experience.
And there’s EdPlace’s new SEND accessibility toolbar, which overlays the main resource, ensuring a fully inclusive programme for all types of learners.
Highly rated SAM Learning is used by British international schools the world over, offering them access to thousands of ready-made learning activities across different school years and examination boards, including GCSE and iGCSE. Teachers can set self-marked tasks for students or encourage them to revise independently. There is also the option to set SAM Learning tasks on homework platforms.
SAM Learning has a detailed reporting suite that provides leaders and teachers with an insight into whole-school, class, or intervention group and individual learner achievement.
The “Question Level Analysis” allows teachers to easily identify knowledge gaps, helping schools to drive data-driven targeted intervention and differentiated teaching.
And last but not least, there’s CENTURY, which has handled the recent disruption to education head-on, addressing the challenge of missed learning and closing attainment gaps with the latest technology for automated marking, along with audio and video feedback.
We’re sure you’ll find CENTURY founder Priya Lakhani’s hard-hitting book Inadequate: the system failing our teachers and your children an interesting read. Described by politician Jo Johnson as “essential reading for parents, teachers and policy-makers”, it looks at how EdTech could well save the education system, as burnt-out teachers leave in droves.
Outsourcing one-to-one help is one way to pick up gaps, even at this late stage of the game.
Let’s not forget, 25% of children get at least some tuition to boost their grades at KS2 and GCSE.
Manning’s Online Tuition
Top rated Manning’s Online Tuition provides both one-to-one and small group online lessons in all subjects at any level. As well as the quality of their tutors – “they’re role models and mentors, as well as educators” – schools like the fact that all lessons are automatically recorded and transcribed.
Better still, there’s a pupil’s database of lessons which is fully searchable, so no learning is ever lost. This is invaluable come study leave.
Of course, not every school or parent can afford tuition.
SchoolsOnline’s innovative platform also allows teachers to set detailed, auto-marked revision assignments for their students with high levels of insight into student engagement and progress, along with targeted video explanations to each question.
They’re also levelling the playing field by developing a solution for the remaining 75% of children that would allow them to access all the benefits that private tuition brings to exam outcomes, offering top-quality, digital exam revision in English and maths.
Their library of bite-sized tutorials created by the UK’s leading, most experienced examiners provides the backbone of their software. Every single video is produced and animated by an experienced film production team to optimise engagement with children at both GCSE and KS2 levels, providing concise, highly targeted tuition.
And two bonus categories, as promised…
Revision can be a lonely business, and two or more brains are better than one. Study groups are a great way to motivate learners when they become jaded and the revision gets a little stale.
Showbie is the teacher-preferred hybrid learning platform empowering educators to deliver personalized feedback and assessment quickly and easily to students of all learning abilities.
In one easy-to-use platform, Showbie allows you to create a collaborative and interactive classroom so learning can happen in any environment – in class, remotely, or anywhere in between.
Designed for the way teachers work, Showbie makes it easy to manage classroom workflow, saving time for what matters most – teaching and learning. Create and distribute assignments, upload any file type, launch collaborative student groups and discussions, manage all your feedback and keep parents in the loop – all in one app.
Offering a much-needed sense of solidarity when students are off doing it for themselves, there are numerous online communities.
Brainly is the world’s largest online learning and homework help community for parents, students, and teachers. It lets students work at their own pace with help from peers and subject experts.
With Brainly, users receive and offer help with any tough homework problems they may have. Through text, image, or voice, students can ask anything and get specific answers. By making all this so readily available and searchable, Brainly takes people from questioning, to understanding and beyond, expanding the classroom into an interactive learning environment that’s as engaging as it is educational.
There’s so much brilliant EdTech out there, but don’t take our word for it. Ask your students. Now is the perfect time to discuss what’s working for them.
In compiling this piece, we spoke to numerous students facing examinations in the coming months. And nervous as teachers are, pupils are the ones really feeling the pressure. They’re the ones who have to sit down in exam halls across the land. And as they hunker down to revise, they develop a growing loyalty and affection for the tech that gets them through to the other side.
The team at EdTech Impact wish you and your pupils all the very best with revision, as you enter the home straight.