Every student, parent and educator in Singapore would have heard of these two words: assessment books. Depending on who you ask, assessment books could be a life-saver or the bane of one’s existence.
Here’s a view that all of us would be all too familiar with:
Truth is, in our examination-based education system, assessment books have long been a Hail Mary of sorts for parents. Have a child struggling in Mathematics? Rush to the nearby bookstore and grab every Mathematics assessment book you can get your hands on. I personally remember finishing stacks of assessment papers as a primary school student. Such a display of diligence and dedication would probably never occur again for me, but for thousands of students in Singapore, assessment books are part and parcel of life.
What has changed, however, is the incorporation of technology into the assessment market.
It therefore comes as no surprise that companies would ride the momentum to push out apps in the education category. With a new generation of technologically-savvy parents and children, there is a huge pool of potential users to tap on.
We have previously shared about Tutate, a local start-up launched in 2013 which offers digital assessment books in an iPad app. But Tutate certainly isn’t the only player in the field – in fact, it had followed behind the heels of Go-Easel, a similar venture started in 2011.
What is Go-Easel?
This e-assessment app works pretty much the same way as Tutate. It allows users to download and complete assessment questions on their smartphones, iPads or tablets. The latest version, Go-Easel 2, was released in July last year, with a revamped user interface.
While Tutate was developed by Amoeba Software Studio, a start-up on its own, Go-Easel 2 is the brainchild of Popular Holdings; more commonly known as our ever-present Popular bookstore. The Singapore-based company does retail, publishing and distribution, and has since branched out into e-commerce.
Majority of its users may be students, but tutors and school teachers have also leapt on board as they find the app intuitive, according to Gerald Goh, Head of Curriculum & Content at Popular e-Learning. Since its inception, Go-Easel has attracted a substantial number of users in the 5-digit range.
“We see [that] much more of such apps will emerge as education is moving into [a] new era of learning, where one-to-one computing is the next hit for 21st century learning,” Goh said.
At present, Go-Easel 2 offers English, Mathematics, Science and Chinese questions for Primary 1 to Primary 6 and Secondary 1 to 2 Express students.
Yay or Nay?
To me, eAssessments are a great alternative to traditional print versions simply because of the portability and sheer convenience it offers. I also appreciate how environmentally-friendly Go-Easel 2 is. Even if a child refuses to do his other assessment, the book doesn’t go into the bin as paper wastage.
Unfortunately, students might not feel the same. With apps like Go-Easel 2, physical constraints are significantly diminished and it is now possible to study even on vacations. This may be heaven for parents, but would it add on to the stress and workload already faced by students in Singapore?
Goh believes that this is highly debatable.
“Turning digital babysitters (tablets) into learning aids [for] screenagers…should not be [seen as] additional workload,” he said, referring to how tablets are already commonly used to entertain young children, “Moreover, our app encourages learning at one’s own pace, where learning can take place anytime, anywhere.”
An open market
E-books in other genres have been enjoying exponential growth in popularity for quite some time now, and the publishing industry has been adapting accordingly with the launch of e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle. E-assessment apps seem to be a logical follow-up, albeit with a Singaporean twist.
There’s no saying if parents and educators will continue the craze over assessment books in future, especially as the government attempts to steer the emphasis away from academic results. That being said, Singapore’s education system is still very much grades-oriented, and the kiasu culture shows no signs of abating. It seems like e-assessments are here to stay.