Interview: “New level of concentration in the classroom”

By Pelle Englund

This week we had the pleasure to talk with one of our users, Nancy Gallin who is an Advanced Placement Art History teacher at The Hewitt School in New York.


We were quite curious about the fact that Nancy had planned to hold a lecture about online exams at the NYSAIS conference – teaching with technology, as she has many times explained herself as a non tech-intuitive person. First thing we had to clear out was how she even came to the point of wanting to try out online exams:

– I hadn’t been thinking about going over to online exams until our EdTech Director Jeremy Sambuca introduced Digiexam and said there would be a volunteer workshop for all teachers at the school. I thought “why not, this could be interesting.” After I had seen the platform, I immediately felt that this is too good to resist, so I decided to give it a go, and now I’m using it regularly and love it!

It feels like a waste of intelligence to spend time on something a computer can do automatically

Nancy continues to say that the immediate advantage that would benefit her students was that finally all the images she’s using in her art history classes are in sharp focus. Her students are now able to see details, which gives them a different sense of reality and makes it easier for them to analyze what they’re studying.

Nancy Gallin

– I was surprised how easy it was to get started. In the beginning my colleagues and I helped each other out a lot, which worked great until we were up to speed. Digiexam has made it possible for me to put more time into creating better exams and assessments, since I don’t have to spend as much time on the grading process anymore.

Specially with single choice questions [which we in the US call multiple choice questions], the exam is graded instantly and it feels like a waste of intelligence to spend time on something a computer can do automatically. It’s also much easier to grade essays, because everything is so much clearer and the highlighting function makes feedback easier and clearer than I’ve ever experienced.

When I asked Nancy if there are any functions she has discovered with going over to online exams that she didn’t expect she says:

– Yes! Except for the ones I’ve already mentioned, two features I’ve really found useful are the anonymity feature, which assures both students and me as a teacher that nothing (not even their handwriting) tells me who has written what. Each response is assessed with no prejudice (literally pre-judgment) in mind. I have indeed been happily surprised and students’ faith in the process is also strengthened by the anonymity. Retaining the work they’ve done is another function I really like. Sometimes (occasionally to present a claim but more often to ask for guidance) students need to review verbatim what they’ve written. It’s never lost or even misplaced, and their and my sense that it remains precisely as written is guaranteed by the process.

It’s hard to explain, but they are more focused, which is fascinating to see

Before we finish our interview, Nancy says she has one last thing she wants to add “When my students are using Digiexam there is a new level of concentration in the classroom. It’s hard to explain, but they are more focused, which is fascinating to see.”