Set down the heavy pile of paper and cap the red pens. Crowdmark Inc., an online Canadian education technology start-up, is on its way to revolutionizing the way teachers administer and grade exams. Based out of Toronto, Ontario the Web application has successfully completed two pilot projects with promising results.
Launched in 2012 through the University of Toronto Early Stage Technology (UTEST) program, Crowdmark was co-founded by James Colliander, Professor of Mathematics, and Martin Muñoz, Researcher and Developer. The online tool features an interface with a paper-to-cloud bridge and marking capabilities using graphical codes designed to streamline large-scale document assessment.
Crowdmark aims to cut time spent on grading and provide teachers with the opportunity to engage with their students more effectively. Each student is given an individual digital portfolio that can be accessed by both parents and teachers online and via mobile devices that archives a complete record of work and graded feedback.
By helping teachers advance their mission, Crowdmark also believes it will enable education institutions more productively invest an estimated 20 billion dollars in annual grading labor costs. Once in full operation, the application is expected to save the Department of Education millions.
Crowdmark’s two recent pilot projects gave them credibility as a viable solution. The 2012 pilot, completed in partnership with the Canadian Mathematical Society and COMC Partner Universities, observed 147 skilled markers from eight Canadian universities during the Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge (COMC). Using Crowdmark to grade the 46,424 hand-written problems, markers completed their work in half the time it took them in 2011.
More recently in May 2013, third and sixth grade teachers at Toronto District School Board’s Golf Road Junior Public School used Crowdmark for the Education Quality and Accountability Office government administered exams. Feedback after the test revealed that teachers preferred the ease-of-use and flexible feedback tools.
"Collectively, teachers spend more than two billion hours per year grading student work, by hand. Administering EQAO costs the Ontario government $33 million every year," Colliander said in an article. "Crowdmark cuts the time teachers spend scoring and empowers them to spend more time actually responding to their students. We think this is time well spent."
Thus far Crowdmark has received approximately 600,000 dollars in seed-stage investments from the University of Toronto, MaRS Innovation, the RIC Centre Venture Start and the Ontario Centres of Excellence Market Readiness.
Edited by Rich Steeves