You may have noticed that we recently announced a new mobile app for students called Squiz (Download for iPhone). In this post, I’ll try and explain our rationale behind making a separate app, how it fits in with your teaching and how it will help your students!
Do we still need base knowledge in science?
In an age where employers are complaining that graduates lack essential skills and that smartphones appear to be virtually glued to people’s hands, a question being asked over and over is whether we still need to focus on teaching knowledge or focus more on skills development.
The skills gap is certainly real, but the curriculum is already overcrowded and classroom time extremely limited. As Australia’s Chief Scientist (and Stile founder) Alan Finkel aptly states, students must still learn concepts, facts and principles. I’m sure this does not come as a surprise to teachers.
Through Stile, we try to present a balance of both practical skills development and the building up of knowledge through careful scaffolding. But as most teachers will tell you, each class comes with its own unique challenges and a wide range of prior student knowledge. To truly climb the rungs of Bloom’s ladder and reach the application/creation stage, students need to have a strong foundation in the basic knowledge involved. Unfortunately, in order to keep the class moving, teachers are often forced to keep going before everyone has grasped the basics (i.e. teaching to the middle), or challenging more students to keep them interested. This is obviously problematic!
Sure, students can Google or Wolfram|Alpha virtually anything, but a strong command of basic facts and concepts is necessary to take full advantage of the skills we teach in schools. This core knowledge is also the vocabulary we use for effective scientific communication. If you’ve ever tried talking with someone in another language using a dictionary, you know how hard that is. The basics ARE important…
Let’s face it though, learning the basics can be boring. So, how do we make learning basics quick, efficient and fun? And can we leverage time outside of the classroom to get it done — saving class time for the engaging higher-order conversations?
Squiz is a companion phone app, designed especially for students. It makes it simple and fun to learn, consolidate and revise core science knowledge on the go.
By using spaced repetition algorithms that are proven to work in exactly these circumstances, Squiz allows students to master the core vocabulary at home and get to the fun stuff in class — the applications of science!
Students use Squiz to do short ‘Squizzes’. They’re like quizzes, except they teach you new stuff along the way. Squiz learns which concepts you understand, and which you’re struggling with. Every successive ‘squiz’ is automatically personalised accordingly. It is capable of asking the same question in multiple different ways, and is aware of which concepts often get confused.
Because each Squiz is short (6–10 questions), it can be used virtually anywhere as long as you have a few minutes. With Squiz, students can often complete their homework before they even get home.
Speaking of homework, that’s what we recommend you use Squiz for. It will work well for pre-work, consolidation, or revision.
What’s next for Squiz?
- Expanding the content to cover all the units in Stile
- Releasing an Android version of the app
- Giving teachers an idea of what their students are up to in Squiz
- Incorporating user feedback (your experiences!!!)
That’s where you come in. If you or someone in your family has access to an iPhone or iPad, download the preview app now, have a play with it and let us know what you think! We’re actively improving both the content and functionality every single day, and NEED your input.
Email us at email@example.com or chat with us in live chat via Stile. We can’t wait to hear what you think.