Let me transport you to Sheffield in the later part of 2019. Charlotte, a biology teacher working at a secondary comprehensive in the city says to Mark, her web developer husband;
"I spend my life thinking of A Level biology questions, giving those questions to students in class and as homework, and then having to mark those questions. It would be nice if we could create an A level science quiz website that students can access on their phones with questions that mark themselves, giving them instant feedback."
The original intention to was to develop an app. Having built a beta version for Android and asked for feedback from students, it quickly became apparent that we'd need to develop the app for Apple products too. This was starting to become too much for one developer. That's when we decided that a website that worked well on mobile devices would be a better delivery system for the project.
We had already made a start on building the website and added units 7 and 8 to support year 13's in the build up to their summer exams. Then lock down closed the schools. Charlotte began writing quizzes to support year 12 remote learning and the biology section rapidly expanded. It proved to be a very useful resource for Charlotte's students as she was able to set a relevant quiz every week. Her students got instant feedback and she didn't have stacks of marking. The emails that her students forwarded to her as evidence that they had completed the remote learning could be used to support the assignment of grades further down the line. It's proved very, very useful.
By the end of April 2020, with a good portion of the A Level biology syllabus on, we turned our attention to chemistry. For this we enlisted the brain of Charlotte's colleague Will. He quickly realised the potential of the project and began creating a variety of multiple choice quizzes and calculation tests to fill the chemistry section of CramNow. By the end of May we had most of the chemistry A Level syllabus on the website. By mid June we had 100s of mole calculations and pH calculation quizzes added. All the way through we tested the quizzes, fixed the errors, tested them again. We came up with new types of quiz, added tools to help students complete the work and added data sheets.
In June, with chemistry looking very full, we started looking for a physicist. Enter Helen. By now we had a remote working system in place whereby scientists would create Google Sheets containing their quizzes that Mark could convert into code and import to the website. We combined the sheets with a shared online to do list that scientists could add tasks and corrections to, and that the web guy could tick off items as they were completed. This way of working saw us quickly have a good chunk of the physics syllabus online by mid July.
At the time of writing schools have opened in a limited way and teacher's time is once again at a premium. There are still some gaps in the content that will be filled over the coming months. When will it be done? To quote Will: "It will never be done". There will always be more we can add. As educators, we hope you find this resource useful. To teachers, we hope the quizzes on this website free up some time that might have otherwise been consumed with thinking up questions and marking homework.
Charlotte, Will, Helen and Mark
The CramNow Team