Common Sense Review
Updated February 2016

The Answer Pad

Simple, multipurpose assessment tool for the BYOD classroom
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • The interface is clean, clear, and just a click away.
  • It's easy to set up student groups with a spreadsheet import option.
  • A library stores and organizes all your assessments.
  • Adding assessment answer fields is pretty easy, though the interface gets a bit convoluted at times.
  • The answer sheets generated are clean, simple, and easy for students to use.
  • Reports give you test, class, and student overviews.
  • Get fine-grained answer-grid data to uncover classwide gaps in understanding.
  • Answer sheets all require a separate test document, but you can import them as PDFs to keep everything organized.
  • A portfolio lets you recall previously used items for future answer sheets.
  • The intereactive features let you send out real-time questions to students and display answers as they come in.
The combination of both formative- and summative-assessment tools gives teachers valuable, immediate, and paperless feedback.
Compatibility with separate presentation tools would be useful, as could the option to include direct written feedback.
Bottom Line
A simple but flexible tool for paperless testing and engaging student-response activities in the classroom.
Galen McQuillen
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

The easy-to-use interface lets kids interact more with content and answer questions on the fly. The answer-sheet features could be more exciting for kids than a pencil-and-paper test. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Automatic scoring gives teachers and kids valuable, immediate feedback. On-the-fly questioning supports formative assessment, but more features to engage kids' higher-order thinking would be a plus.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

It can be accessed through any Web browser, and there are free, supplemental iOS and Android apps for students. It's simple enough that most kids will pick it up quickly. Video tutorials help teachers get started.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Because it's so easy, use The Answer Pad to make electronic answer sheets for paper tests, eliminating your need for paper Scantrons -- as well as sprints to your school's Scantron machine. The Common Core alignment feature is a nice touch, offering some valuable feedback. There are many question types, all with the ability to let kids show work on the scratch-pad tool. All the tests are auto-scored, giving reports of the data by individual student performance or by test item. You'll still want to use some other vehicle to provide narrative feedback to kids, since there's no good way to do so here. 

Upgrading to Answer Pad+ gives teachers access to templates (maps, diagrams, and so on) to use with their questions, as well as uploading capabilities -- depending on your needs, this might be worth the purchase. Teachers can easily see who has responded and what kids have drawn and answered, as well as the class data. Even though the platform doesn't integrate with presentation tools such as PowerPoint or Keynote, the Go Interactive feature will most likely be useful during lectures and other types of direct instruction.

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What's It Like?

The Answer Pad (TAP) is an online assessment tool for BYOD classrooms or any other learning scenario where students can each use their own devices. Teachers do most of their work in the browser interface, while kids can use any browser or the free app available for both iOS and Android.

The tool has two main features that can help teachers manage formative and/or summative assessment. The Electronic Answer Sheet lets teachers create online answer forms to use concurrently with a separate test or quiz (on paper, online, or projected in class). The Go Interactive mode supports more on-the-fly, informal assessment for quick student responses during class activities. Question types include multiple choice, fill in the blank, slider bar, yes/no, pie chart, number wheel, and a blank space/graph for drawing.

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Is It Good For Learning?

One of The Answer Pad's greatest assets is the way it gives kids a simple and safe space to participate in class. It not only makes learning more interesting and engaging, but kids can participate without the fear of speaking –- or getting a "wrong answer" –- in front of the class. Teachers will likely find it useful, though the Interactive feature is similar to other types of student-response systems out there.

Another important feature allows both teachers and students to see their scores and review the answers; teachers get a summary of the student answers for immediate review, giving them the opportunity to assess kids' progress and possibly adjust the lesson accordingly. With that said, though the platform's features are functional, they aren't all as efficient as they could be. In particular, the question-editing tool can be a bit cumbersome. While this style of formative assessment is valuable on its own, a built-in feature to integrate other tools -- from presentations to videos -- could offer even more benefits for students' learning. The Answer Pad's more summative assessment features are a nice way to relieve some of the time spent grading, but direct feedback opportunities are limited. It's great for collecting information on student data but maybe not be the most effective way to create learning opportunities. 

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See how teachers are using The Answer Pad