Five reasons why you should use Carousel

Why should I use Carousel? There are so many other quizzing programs out there, what makes Carousel different?

This is a question we get asked a lot, and it’s a good one. With survey data showing more and more teachers are getting involved in retrieval practice, the demand for effective and time-efficient platforms has grown, and the supply has increased in response.

Teacher Tapp data, July 2021

As such, in this blog I am going to outline the five biggest advantages of using Carousel. This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the cool things Carousel does, but the five that, as a daily user of Carousel, make the biggest difference to me and my students.

1. It’s simple

When it comes to homework, I’ve found that giving students a regular and simple activity yields the best results. When I set lots of different types of out-of-lesson tasks, I find engagement and quality drops. Maybe that’s just me, but generally if students are used to doing something then it is more likely to get done: you don’t need to keep reissuing new expectations or instructions and the element of “do students know what I want from them” is already assured. The Carousel set-up is therefore extremely straightforward for students to use regularly. They open the flashcards, revise, then take a quiz when they are ready.

First the students revise by using the flashcards
Students can be taught how to speak out or write down their answer before flipping the card
When they are ready, students can do a quiz on what they have just learnt

We know that studying like this has a strong evidence base as an effective memory tool. Keeping it simple at the student end has allowed me to really build momentum with a class, and within a matter of weeks almost all students are completing the homework to a good standard and showing the gains from that work in class.

None of this is to say that teachers don’t have a lot of flexibility and control over what is being set. I can control the content, the flashcards available, the length of the quiz, whether students get repeats and many other variables. I try to be very thoughtful in the way that I set the work, but it always ends up feeling reassuringly familiar to the students.

2. There are no logins (but it is still secure)

Students login with their name and a quiz-specific link. That’s it. No logins, no passwords, no emailing the data-manager to ask for a password or password reset. No excuses from students who say they can’t log in. Students can also use Carousel on any platform or device and we are extremely data-light, so there should be no excuses for not doing it! And because we don’t display any personal information about the student in the quizzing area, there’s no risk to personal data.

3. Students self mark

Part of the point of doing work on an online platform is the ability to receive near-instantaneous feedback on whether you were right or wrong. However, one of the things we learnt early on in lockdown was that if the feedback isn’t “smart” enough, students disengage. If answers are marked wrong because they are missing a capital or full stop or pluralised or whatever, students get very frustrated and disengage. This problem increases in complexity with the length of the answer. If a student’s answer to a question is a sentence, getting a computer to figure out all the different possible sentences that could still be in alignment with the “correct answer” is an extremely difficult task. Carousel allows students to self-assess their work, which not only means they can contest whether or not their response matches the “correct” answer, but they are also learning to become more reflective and honest about their work and performance.

Students can compare their answer to the “correct” answer and decide if they are right or wrong

Of course, teachers then have the ability to moderate students’ answers and change the marking if they so choose, but the idea of putting the onus and responsibility on the students themselves is an extremely powerful one in developing your class culture.

4. Whole Class Feedback tool

One of the major hurdles preventing good student engagement with homework is that they see it as divorced from everything you do in the classroom. They view it as a punitive bolt-on, and don’t appreciate just how crucial it is as a complement to classroom learning. Carousel’s Whole Class Feedback tool is the remedy to this. As you are moderating students’ responses, you can select answers that you think are interesting (they might expose a misconception or common area of error, or be worth highlighting due to their quality, or some other reason). Carousel’s Whole Class Feedback tool allows you to display those responses to the class in your next lesson, giving you the opportunity to use them as teaching opportunities and a chance for students to build on their learning and the learning of their peers. Crucially, it also allows you to weave student homework and classwork together, showing students that both are needed to achieve long term success.

Whilst marking, I can select the answers that I found interesting
I can then display those answers in the next lesson for class discussion

The Whole Class Feedback screen also shows you the questions that students found hardest (i.e. got the lowest average score).

Carousel shows me the questions that got the worst scores

I always display these as a starter in my lesson when the homework is due, and students know if they get those wrong then they are in for a fierce telling off — I say things like:

If you get it wrong today, it shows that when you did the homework, you got it wrong, and then just shrugged your shoulders and said ‘that’s fine, I don’t mind that I got it wrong.’ That isn’t acceptable, I don’t set the homework so you can just tick off you’ve done it but not actually learn anything…

As before, this allows me to continue weaving class and homework together, as well as to build a culture where students are accountable for their actual learning, not just for “having done the homework.” In most systems, if students have done it, they’ve done it and that’s it. In this system, if they’ve done it but haven’t learnt anything, I can hold them to account.

5. It’s a time saver

As a part-time head of department, it’s crucial that I try to save my teachers as much time as possible (let alone my own time). When we built Carousel, we went out of our way to make it as time-saving as possible:

● Setting a quiz takes a couple of minutes, maximum

● The Carousel Community contains thousands of ready made resources (including the John Catt Knowledge Quiz series)

● We made the marking screen question-by-question to make marking even quicker (it takes me around 4–5 minutes to mark a 15-question quiz for a class of 30)

● Carousel Platinum has the option to integrate your Management Information System (Sims, Arbor, Bromcom or whatever). This means that all your classes and students are made for you and update automatically

There we have it: five excellent reasons to use Carousel. Like I said, there are loads of other ones too, but hopefully these are enough to pique your interest. It’s such a simple system you can probably find those other features for yourself pretty easily, but you can also book a product tour here. You can also see all the cool things we are currently working on here, as well as vote on which feature you’d like to see us work on next.

As ever, any questions, comments or feedback please just email me at adam@carousel-learning.com.

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Carousel Learning

Carousel is a retrieval practice and online quizzing tool that helps students to embed knowledge in their long-term memory.