The image above, taken from a series of French postcards published in 1899, posits a vision of an ideal twenty-first-century classroom, in which knowledge is literally transmitted into students' heads via cables and a headset. It such a system, I assume, each student would receive the same packets of knowledge in exactly the same format, and thus each student would leave the educational experience with a targeted and identical set of skills.
This postcard helps to exemplify the fundamental problem of education, one that has clearly existed forever: how do we ensure that students receive the message that we as educators intend to send, and thereby achieve universal mastery for all students? Without an elaborate brain cabling system like the one depicted above, it can be practically impossible.
Assessment is the closest remedy that current instructors have to the problem of uneven understanding, but it is also among the most time consuming and hated features of the instructional cycle for both students and teachers. Thus, when we discovered the app Socrative earlier this year (courtesy of Kent Campus-based History Professor Dana Logan), we were amazed at the ease with which it enabled the creation, administration, and analyzation of mobile-based assessments.
This free app can be downloaded in a student and teacher version for iOS and Android, and can also be used via the web. After signing up for an account, instructors can create short or long-form quizzes that students can access via the mobile app. While the initial purpose of Socrative is for formative assessment at the end of a lesson (it even has a "quick question" feature for on the fly assessment), it allows instructors to utilize a variety of question types, as well as embed related images, figures, and exhibits into questions, making it possible to use the tool for longer form assessments, as well. Once a quiz has been created within the mobile teacher app or the web-based app, it is stored within the interface for later use or re-use.