Zammer

Calling all computer science teachers!

WeNeedYou

We need you!

We have a dream and that dream is for revision to not be so horrible and maybe even be a bit of fun. In our dream people enjoy more so they revise more and because they revise more they learn more. Finally because they learn more they get better exam results and if we can help everyone to get one grade better everyone is going to be pretty happy.

We have been working hard to build our snazzy head-to-head revision game platform and test it in schools but we need a bit of help to be ready to launch in January. We need two things:

1. Schools who will beta test our game in their GCSE computer science classrooms and tell us if we can do things better as well as helping us to show others how awesome Zammer is.

2. Computer science teachers to help us build our bank of questions for GCSE computer science to be ready for January.

Think you might be able to help? Then read on…

What actually is Zammer?

Zammer is a competitive revision quiz game platform. We started life by winning a hackathon at Facebook in London – we coded fast in hammocks and broke a few things and everything! Since then we have been trying to build something that is truly effective in engaging learners in the revision process by following a couple of basic principles. The first is that we should be fun so revision is the distraction rather than the hard work. The second is that our mission is to get people better exam results.

We think that Zammer can be useful in a whole range of contexts but the classroom and GCSE level has the single biggest impact on peoples lives in the UK. We decided to start with GCSE computer science also as we understand the subject and our CEO, Martin, has spent a number of years working with Computing at School and running Computing++ which connects schools with techies for exactly this area. Martin is also a school governor and runs coding workshops in schools; mainly for fun but then he always was a bit weird.

How does it work?

Zammer is a web based game. It is built entirely in HTML and JavaScript rather than Flash and will be coming to iOS and Android pretty soon. We have tried to deliver something that is bright and fun and it currently looks like this:

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Behind the scenes there is a teacher control panel that allows pupils to be put into classes and homework to be set. Teachers can view each pupil’s progress and identify where additional help is required as well as simple task like spotting missed homework. In the future we hope to add more depth using a bit of big-data analysis to show where pupils, schools and classes are compared to the national average and based on characteristics like gender, region or SEN.

Progress reporting looks a bit like this:

Screen-Shot-2013-11-03-at-15.10.25

The game lets pupils choose a subject then either to play solo or against a someone else. If they choose to challenge someone then both players get the same questions and the person who wins most rounds out of three but answering questions right wins. A correct answer gets a pupil 1000 points and up to 1000 bonus points depending on how fast they answer. The idea behind this is that in an exam situation it is important to be able to recall knowledge under pressure so we try to prepare learners this situation.

All the question in Zammer correlate to specific curriculum areas and as pupils answer questions correctly they also build up mastery points for those specific facts and skills. We skew away from luck by giving more mastery for chains of correct answers. As a pupil plays they see how they are progressing and the game uses this information to set the pace of learning to suit the individual pupil.

When a pupil masters a fact we reward them with a Zammer coin and when whole topic are completed we (will) issue an open badge.

What’s in it for you?

Why should you help us? Well it would be very helpful for one thing and we would be eternally grateful for one thing. Also, beta test schools and question writers will get early access to our game which will hopefully deliver a positive impact on your classroom. As an early user you get to help shape the future of our product and hopefully make it ever more powerful.

We think that our game will help everyone and there is a fairly significant amount of research that says that computer based learning is more effective on its own. However, we think that we will be especially useful to specific groups for particular reasons.

  • Boys seem to respond well to the competitive nature of our game.
  • Pupil-premium boys in particular we hope will respond to this and gain a large benefit but sheer engagement level.
  • Girls seem to be less keen on the competitive play but like the curation aspect of completing the subject and the promise of redeeming Zammer coins for avatar customisations and theme packs. We haven’t built all this yet but it will come.
  • More able pupils reaching for an A* or level 9 (or whatever the scale is at the time) need to gain a full understanding of the subject so the thorough coverage of the curriculum helps them particularly.

We hope that we help teachers a bit too because we give a fun, curriculum led activity that can be used in class or as a homework. Coupled with detailed monitoring of pupil progress we hopefully leave a little more time for everything else.

What’s involved?

Hopefully not too much. To get started you just need to sign yourself and you school up on our main website at Zammer.co. Then drop us an email at info@zammer.co¬†and we’ll activate your account (we wouldn’t want any old riff-raff getting in).

Once your account is activated you will gain access to the teacher control panel and this is where you can add classes, pupils and questions. The process is very simple and the interface looks like this:

Screen-Shot-2013-11-03-at-15.08.52

We are a business though – what about costs, charges and all that?

We are a business and yes, we do intend on making a profit one day. We have the long view in mind though. For now we need to get something that works and is worth paying for. We intend to be entirely free until at least July 2014. When we do start to charge, we will be charging for use of the platform and the supporting tools, probably on a per-head, per year basis but we will let everyone know what we intent in advance so schools won’t get a nasty, unexpected bill. For people who just download our app we will have a single one-off charge but the licence will be the same.

Any questions?

Tweet us at @zammerapp or email info@zammer.co and we’ll be happy to chat with you.