I hope you had a good winter break and a Happy New Year! In this newsletter, I’ve included the following important updates about ChemQuiz.net:
- *NEW* Progress saving feature for students!
- *NEW* Browser tab switch tracking!
- Lots of bug fixes & new features
- Updated pricing for ChemQuiz.net Dashboard site licenses
*NEW* Progress saving feature!
In addition to the new Exams feature that I added last month, a highly requested feature for the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard has been to allow students to save their progress while they’re working on an assignment. I’ve seen the need for this feature with my own students – they’re in class working hard on stoichiometry problems when the bell rings and they’re worried about losing their work so far. I would do my best to reassure them that they could just keep going if they left the tab open, but invariably their Chromebook battery would die, causing it to restart and lose all of their progress.
To solve this problem, teachers can now activate the “Save progress” feature on any assignment they create on the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard by checking this box:
Once activated (it’s off by default), this feature will display a pink “Save your progress” button at the bottom of each assignment:
Progress will then be saved for the next 30 days, after which it will be cleared out. Students must be logged in and working on an assignment in order to use this feature – it doesn’t work if they’re not logged in, and it only works on assignments where their teacher has activated the feature. There’s no limit to the number of times students can use this feature on an assignment, but due dates and “Lock after due date” settings still apply, so if a student doesn’t click the “Grade it!” button by the due date, their answers won’t be submitted. It’s like I tell my own students: if you don’t give me the paper, then I can’t grade it! 😁
I spent a lot of time testing out progress saving on all 37 quizzes on ChemQuiz.net, but like all new features, I recommend trying it out with a test account or a small group of your students first. Despite my best efforts, there may be some bugs that I hadn’t anticipated, so please let me know if you find any! Like all Dashboard features, the “Save progress” feature is also immediately available on PhysQuiz.net.
Thanks to everyone who requested this new feature, including Lan, Krisha, Andrew, and Marilyn! I prioritize adding new features based on teacher requests and feedback, so if you have any suggestions to help me keep improving ChemQuiz.net, please let me know!
*NEW* Browser tab switch tracking!
Around the same time that I released the new Exams feature, I received a request from a teacher to look into making ChemQuiz.net work with a “secure browser” so that students can’t switch away from an assignment. I thought this was a great idea, so I reached out to a company that makes one of the most popular secure browsers and asked for their pricing. We scheduled a remote meeting, and they were really nice, but… let’s just say that their yearly licensing fee was a little out of my price range. 😳 Maybe in a few years!
Instead, I did a little research and I was able to add a new security feature instead: Tab switch tracking! Teachers can now activate this feature on any assignment or exam they create on the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard by checking this box:
The number of times a student switches tabs away from your assignment or exam will now show up on the Results page of the Dashboard when you hover over the score:
The number of tab switches will also show up on the result details page.
Please note two important aspects of this new feature: first, it does not prevent students from switching away during an assignment or exam. Without a “secure browser” or specialized testing software that’s designed specifically for that purpose, there’s no way to stop tab switches from happening. Second, when this feature is activated, it displays a notice at the top of the assignment to students telling them that their tab switches will be tracked and recorded.
By adding tab-switch tracking to the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard, my goal was to give teachers a feature that would discourage cheating and allow them to have a conversation with their students about cheating while also respecting students’ ability to make informed decisions about their own behavior. This new feature has already been used in 278 assignments at 63 different schools since it was added, so it seems like it’s a pretty popular addition so far.
Thanks so much to Delora for reaching out and suggesting looking into the “secure browser” feature! Suggestions like hers have helped me significantly improve ChemQuiz.net since it first launched in 2020, so please keep sending them in.
Lots of bug fixes & new features
The new Exams feature that I introduced last month unintentionally resulted in several bugs that impacted how the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard works 🤦🏻♂️. Fortunately, those bugs were reported quickly and were all relatively easy to fix, so while I was working on the Dashboard code I took care of a number of other issues and added a few new features as well. Here’s a list of all the updates since the last newsletter:
Dashboard – these features and bug fixes also apply to PhysQuiz.net
- new feature: allow teachers to track the number of times students switch between tabs (thanks, Delora!)
- new feature: new “site announcements” box at the top of Dashboard
- improvement: added printable mode for exams (thanks, Teri!)
- improvement: cleaned up appearance on student “Current Assignments” page
- bug fix: a large number of results at a school (>40,000) would generate a 503 “Unavailable” error, so I split up the results database table and it seems to be running much faster (thanks, Lan!)
- bug fix: added links above the students results table on the Results page to support schools with more than 5,000 results (thanks, Dorothy, John and Katie!)
- bug fix: assignments were still showing on the student “Current Assignments” page even if students had met the threshold (thanks, Jason!)
- bug fix: assignments by colleagues for other classes were showing up even though those classes weren’t shared (thanks, Maggie!)
- bug fix: some assignment information would not show up for colleagues on the result details pages
Exam feature bug fixes:
- bug fix: “Continue Exam” button wasn’t working properly for teacher previews (thanks, Scott!)
- bug fix: when trying to create an assignment, the drop-down menu to select a quiz was disabled (thanks, Aaron!)
- bug fix: some posted assignments were not showing up for students (thanks, Michele and Dawn!)
- bug fix: inactive assignments were not loading properly in exams (thanks, Ann!)
- bug fix: the open and close dates were not being loaded correctly for exams (thanks, Mike!)
- bug fix: using apostrophes in the exam section instructions would break insertion into the database (thanks, Monique!)
- new feature: students can save their assignment progress and complete it at a later time (thanks Lan, Krisha, Andrew and Marilyn!)
- maintenance: removed the outdated “Print Preview” notice
- maintenance: cleaned up and removed a lot of vestigial code from various quizzes
- new feature: physical states are now removed from student answers for predicting reactions (thanks, Dorothy!)
- improvement: added instructions to not include physical state with predictions (thanks again, Dorothy!)
- bug fix: answer options for predicting reaction products were repeating for multiple choice questions (thanks, Andrew!)
- bug fix: separated out neutralization reactions so that they’re not automatically included with double replacement reactions (thanks, Bruce!)
- bug fix: chemical equilibrium expression questions were asking for the wrong wanted value
- bug fix: “Load More Problems Like This” button after completing the quiz was generating empty results
- new feature: option to find the electron configuration of an ion (thanks, Sylvie!)
- new feature: option to find an element that is isoelectronic with a given electron configuration (thanks again, Sylvie!)
- new feature: added an option to require configurations be written in filling order, not energy order (thanks, Monique!)
- bug fix: “aluminum” and “cesium” were not accepted as correct answers (thanks again, Monique!)
- bug fix: limiting problems by element number and selected only d- or f-blocks would result in blank questions
- bug fix: selected problem types were not evenly distributed across questions (thanks, Scott!)
- bug fix: quiz was grading “phantom” problems that were never actually generated
- bug fix: hydrate formulas weren’t being displayed correctly
- new feature: added option for hydrates with 106 new chemicals in the database (thanks, Sylvie!)
- improvement: now accepts answers without the words “gas”, “liquid” or “solid” (thanks, Susan!)
- bug fix: improved filtering of selected ionic compounds (thanks, Darlene and Nick!)
- bug fix: certain settings would cause the quiz to become trapped in an infinite loop, which would slow down the server
I keep track of every issue or suggestion that’s sent in, but some bugs take a while to track down and fix, and new features can be challenging to add, so I appreciate your patience and understanding. ChemQuiz.net has improved significantly over the past three and a half years thanks to all the teachers and students who have sent in reports, so please keep sending them in!
Updated site license pricing for the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard
When I first started ChemQuiz.net in the summer of 2020, there were only 10 quizzes and the Dashboard had very few features. I’d signed up 31 schools and a private tutor, and during that school year the site served about 1,000 students. I was using shared web hosting to keep costs down because I wasn’t charging for site licenses yet, and as a result the site would often run slowly or refuse to load entirely.
Fast forward to today, and the site has grown significantly! I’ve added 27 new quizzes and lots of new features, and as a result, lots of new schools. Currently, there are over 1,000 teachers at 242 schools in five countries using ChemQuiz.net with over 15,000 active student accounts. By the end of December, there were already more quiz results from this school year than in the previous two school years combined. I’m amazed at how much the site has grown in such a short amount of time and absolutely humbled by the support and feedback I’ve received from Chemistry teachers around the world – and even from some of their students!
Because of this growth, the site takes up pretty much all of my time outside of school, and I’ve had to invest in much more robust (and expensive) web hosting as well as purchasing additional security software to keep the site as safe as possible. In order to keep the site ad-free and financially sustainable, I’ve made the difficult decision to raise the price of an annual site license.
Going forward, a site license for the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard will cost $US70 for 12 months. This is a change from the previous license term, which was based on the American school year (July 1st to June 30th). The 12-month term begins when payment or a purchase order number is received, or when the current site license expires, whichever is later. This means that, for example, if you renew your site license in April of this year, 12 months will be added on to your July 1st expiration date.
Site licenses will remain by building, so one license still applies to every teacher and student in your entire school. Additional schools in the same district can purchase an add-on license for 50% off at just US$35 per school. If you also teach physics or you have a colleague who does, you can bundle a site license for the PhysQuiz.net Dashboard for just US$35 more.
If you’d like to purchase a 12-month ChemQuiz.net site license or renew your existing license, you can pay in one of the following ways:
- personal check
- CashApp, PayPal, Venmo or Zelle at firstname.lastname@example.org
The new pricing will also allow me to continue offering free site licenses to high poverty public schools with at least 50% of their students on free/reduced lunch or designated “economically disadvantaged”. If you teach at a school that has these demographics, please send me a link to the supporting documentation and you’ll get a free site license for the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard forever (PhysQuiz.net, too!). I want ChemQuiz.net to continue to be a useful resource for as many students as possible.
Help me share ChemQuiz.net with the world!
If you like using ChemQuiz.net, there are three quick and easy things that you can do to help me promote the site!
- Add your school to the list of supporters on the About page! Simply go to the ChemQuiz.net Dashboard, click on “Your Info” in the top menu bar, activate the box next to “Display School on ChemQuiz.net“, and click the “Update Your Info” button.
- Tell another Chemistry teacher about ChemQuiz.net and encourage them to try out the Dashboard!
- Follow @ChemQuizDotNet on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Threads and share my updates with your fellow Chemistry teachers!
Now that I’ve added these new features and fixed these bugs, I’d like to get back to writing some new quizzes and adding some new options to existing quizzes to flesh them out a bit. We start back at my school on Monday and I’ll be teaching six preps this semester 😱 because we’re bringing back the Climate Science elective that I haven’t taught for a year and a half. My students have gotten a lot out of that class in the past, so I’m really looking forward to teaching it again!
Once again, thank you for your continued support of ChemQuiz.net! I hope that 2024 goes well for you and your families, colleagues and students. Please reach out to me via the Contact form or at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns. Take care and stay safe!