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Happy New Year from ChemQuiz.net!

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year! I hope that you and yours have been able to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic. Now that 1st Semester is ending for many of us, I wanted to let you know about the improvements to ChemQuiz.net over the past few months.

Faster web hosting

First, and most importantly, I upgraded the hosting package for the website! The site should run much faster now, especially when lots of people are using it at once, so I’m hoping this improvement is noticeable and makes the site a little more user friendly. ChemQuiz.net‘s popularity has increased a lot, and the site has frequently had over 15,000 hits and 2,000 unique visitors each weekday since mid-September, which is WAY more than last school year. (Interestingly, the peak was on December 14th, 2021, when there were 2,984 unique visitors and 25,937 hits, so I’m guessing that was due to students preparing for 1st Semester Exams.) The site reached two million total hits to date in November 2021, the vast majority of which came since this past August, so it was definitely time for an upgrade! Thanks to everyone who purchased site licenses this school year so that I could pay for the upgrade. (Please note: as a result of the upgrade, email notifications for assignments are currently not working, but I should have them working soon.)

Three new quizzes

Next, there are three new quizzes since my last newsletter in August:

I hope you find them to be useful for your students. Those three quizzes were all requested by multiple teachers, so thank you to everyone who has contacted me with suggestions, because they really help me prioritize what to work on next. I have more new quizzes planned, so hopefully I’ll be able to find the time over the next few months to work on them.

New quiz features

Two notable quiz improvements: you can now generate empirical formula problems in the Mass Ratios & Percent Composition Quiz, so now it’s called the Mass Ratios, Percent Composition & Empirical Formulas Quiz. Also, I modified the Significant Figures Quiz so that it sometimes randomly adds a few extra zeroes past the decimal point, and you can include random units in problems to make them a little more realistic.

New Dashboard features

I added several new features to the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard, including the following:

  • Make copies of existing assignments
  • Export quiz results by class
  • Export the highest quiz score for each student on a particular assignment
  • Other visual and efficiency improvements

I also recorded several instructional videos for the Dashboard, and I added an “md5 hash” to check if students were using the back button to check and fix their answers on quiz assignments (so you may have heard from one of your students if they tried doing that recently!).

Lots of bug fixes

Of course, there wouldn’t be a ChemQuiz.net update without bug fixes – there currently are 46,000 lines of custom code for the quizzes and other scripts that run the site! – so here’s a list of what I was able to squish with your help:

  • existing student accounts were getting corrupted when they tried to join another class; the registration form now checks to make sure an existing student is logged in before allowing them to join a class by using a join code
  • the registration form was grabbing the wrong user ID when creating a new account with a join code
  • several Dashboard specific bugs:
    • archived classes were showing up on assignment form
    • some assignment settings were wiped out immediately after the assignment was created
    • the “Show individual students” link wasn’t working on the Create Assignment form
    • student names were shown as “First Last” in Quiz Results; “Last, First” made more sense
    • assigning quizzes to “All of your classes” didn’t work properly; I changed the way assignments are linked to classes and students in the database
  • Quiz specific bugs:

+ lots of under-the-hood improvements!

If you come across any other bugs, please let me know and I’ll do my best to fix them!

Equity and opportunity

This school year has been much more difficult than many of us anticipated, including me, so I wanted to celebrate the fact that there are currently 45 high-poverty public schools signed up for ChemQuiz.net, which means 54 teachers and their 762 students are able to access the Dashboard LMS at no cost to themselves or their schools. If you purchased a site license, you’ve helped me pay for the web hosting, SSL certificate, domain registration and other business costs that allow me to give free site licenses to schools that have the fewest resources. There’s a lot of student talent out there in all kinds of places, so I’m hoping that ChemQuiz.net will help more students do well in Chemistry and realize their full potential. Thanks for helping make this possible!

Discounts, for a limited time!

In the spirit of making the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard available to more chemistry students, for those of you who haven’t yet purchased a site license for this school year, I’m now offering a discounted rate of just US$30 through July 1st, 2022! With a site license, you’ll be able to create accounts for all of your students and create as many quiz assignments as you’d like, which lets you track your students’ progress as they master different chemistry skills in line with your own curriculum. More info about the Dashboard is available here.

For existing customers, as a show of my sincere gratitude for your support so far, you can renew your license for next school year now through April 1st for only US$40, which is a 20% discount from the normal rate! This will help me secure the upgraded web hosting for next school year so that the site remains fast and accessible for as many people as possible.

One last thing – if you have a site license, make sure you have your school listed on the “About ChemQuiz.net” page by going to the Dashboard, clicking on “Your Info”, and then checking the box next to “Display School on ChemQuiz.net” and clicking the pink “Update your info” button. (Please note that this is completely optional but it does help support the site for free.)

Thanks!

Thanks again for all of your feedback, suggestions and support! When I started ChemQuiz.net in the summer of 2020, I never could have imagined that it would have grown to have so many teachers and students using it every day. Working on the site has been a true source of joy for me during such a difficult time. As always, take care, stay safe, and keep in touch!

-Chris