That time of the year is rolling around again! GCSE revision is getting into full swing and to help RevisionBox is making our GCSE Maths Course free to use for RevisionBox users. Revise any topic on the GCSE course in your own time, at home and for free!!! Best of luck to everyone in their revision!!!!
Best of luck to all our students in GCSE Maths tomorrow! I'm sure there will be loads of A Stars!
Lots of students found the GCSE Biology exam today pretty tough going. For many it was their first experience of an exam going badly. One thing we know for sure is that it wouldn't be their last bad exam and learning to deal with it is a really important part of exam technique.
Here is a three step process that one of our teachers uses with his classes.
1) Forget about it. It's very difficult to know during an exam how well or badly it went. It's human nature to try and go over it in your head afterwards, but it doesn't help you. As soon as you possibly can, forget about it.
2) Take a break. It's important during exams to take a break. Exams take a lot out of you, and much as you might like to, it's not always possible to come from one exam and start studying for the next one. When you feel an exam has gone, it's even more important to take a break. Going for a walk is a great way to clear your head, no one gets enough fresh air during exam time!!!
3) Focus on the next exam. Nothing takes your mind off the last exam like getting ready for the next one. Once you have cleared your head, dive into the revision for the next exam!
Best of luck to everyone in the upcoming exams.
PS. Over the next few weeks we will be doing a series of blog posts on exam technique for the maths exams.
Lot's of first exams for people today. We hope that they went well for everyone. Unfortunately no time to put the feet up just yet, lots more exams coming up soon.
The first one is always the hardest though, so well done in getting it over with!!!
In these last few frantic weeks before the GCSE exams we thought it would be helpful to put together a top 10 hints and tips for revision from our teachers!!!
We hope they help you...
1) Make a plan. Work out exactly what you need to know for the exam, and how long you have to revise everything. Know what you need to learn everyday. Do your best to stick to the plan.
2) Begin with the key principals of each topic. Especially in Maths, you need a solid base of knowledge within each topic before moving onto something more advanced.
3) If you find you are stuck on the particular problem try and break it down into smaller problems. If that doesn't work, take a break from it and come back to it later. Don't spend hours on it, a fresh perspective can be really helpful.
4) Past papers are essential. There is no substitute for trying real exam questions. As you get closer to the exam, try answering the questions in the alloted time you will have in the exam.
5) Find the study style that suits you best. Some people revise best by themselves, others find group study works well for them. If you work better with other people, set up a study group.
5 and a half) And of course, if you need some help - don't forget RevisionBox!!!
Best of luck with the studying!
We have been somewhat behind in our blogging recently, but the good news is that RevisionBox is now up and running and available for students.
We have a full GCSE Maths course (25 hours, 6 sections, 41 sub sections and 150 lessons - if it's on the GCSE Maths syllabus, it's in our revision course) complete with example questions and solutions and opportunities to test your own understanding of the topics. We also have revision courses in GCSE English for those students studying "Of Mice and Men" or "Mister Pip" including overviews of the texts, important characters and plot themes.
We are still building up our content base (interactive testing will be coming shortly) and until May we are offering introductory prices on all courses (English courses start from as little as £8.99 while access to the Maths course until the end of the acedemic year is available for just £29.99).
Please use the "Contact us" button on the bottom right of our web pages, or e-mail info@RevisionBox.net with any feedback you have.
Things have been moving ahead quickly recently within RevisionBox – however we have made a change to our launch product and postponed our launch until we have the change completed.
We decided that we need one full GCSE course to launch with, and we have chosen GSCE Maths. We had previously planed to launch individual topics within GCSE Maths. We have spent the last few weeks filming again, and the entire course is now in post production. It’s going to take a few weeks to get all the editing done, graphics overlayed etc but when it’s finished we will have the GSCE maths course entirely finished and ready for students!
We will also be launching revision courses for two GCSE English Novels, ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck and ‘Mister Pip’ by Lloyd Jones. Given the lack of revision books available for ‘Mister Pip’ we are hoping this course will prove especially popular with students taking this novel.
From answers.com: Post production: A final stage in the production of a film or a television program, occurring after the action has been filmed or videotaped and typically involving editing and the addition of soundtracks.
For RevisionBox post production includes editing, adding graphics, adding sounds where appropriate etc. For the record, it can be surprisingly difficult to get hexagons, dice and triangles to look just right on a video!!! The whole process is extremely time consuming, especially for the initial episodes of each course. It is, however, a necessary ingredient in producing high quality video lessons.
Thankfully we are nearing the end of post production and gearing up for launch. We are in the process of finalising dates for launch and will post them here as soon as possible.
RevisionBox has just completed filming out first video courses. These courses will form our beta launch offering (more on that in a later post) to be launched early in 2011. You can view pictures from the set here.
All in all it was a very tough and intense (as I’m sure many of partner teachers will agree with) couple of months but extremely productive. We now have top quality content (which is now in editing and post production) that will, I hope, provide a really compelling beta offering. I want to use this post to relay some of the lessons we learned.
There are three things that the success or failure of our filming week depended on, preparation, quality people and contingency planning.
Recording top quality lessons in front of a camera is not easy. A lot of things need to come together to make it work. Firstly extensive preparation needs to have been done on the lessons, so that the teacher is happy with the script and accompanying slides. Secondly all the logistics have to fall into place to allow filming to take place smoothly; sets need to be prepared, equipment rented and crews assembled. Even minor points like keeping people fed and watered while on set require a great deal of preparation. Trust me when I say, you can not prepare too much.
It’s not an exaggeration to say we simply wouldn’t have content now if we hadn’t managed to get such high quality people on board. From our Partner Teachers (who continually exceeded our expectations – thanks guys) to our cameraman Niall (who despite completely unreasonable requests such as working until 2 and 3am never complained) everybody was a star (although only some appeared on camera!). It doesn’t matter how much effort it takes, finding the right people is always worth it.
One of the courses we filmed was ‘Of Mice and Men’, and we had more than our fair of ‘best laid plans’ going awry. We had everything from legal hold ups preventing us getting access to our offices and therefore having to re locate our set, to light bulbs blowing at the worth possible moments. Murphy’s law always seemed to apply – if it could happen, it did. We just about managed with the contingency plans we had, but going forward we will definitely be taking a more ‘plan for the worst to happen’ approach.
Finally, somewhat related to all of these is the importance of hard work. It’s easy to cut corners, not do the final shoot, leave the error on the slide (I’m sure there are still some there) but when you are trying to produce something that’s genuinely top quality, unfortunately there is no substitute for hard work!
RevisionBox is delighted to announce that Ben McCarey has become one of our partner teachers for GCSE English.
Ben is the Head of the English Department at a large Oxfordshire Comprehensive and is a graduate of both Oxford and York universities. In addition to running the English Department in his school, Ben is also responsible for introducing the use of emerging technologies to enhance the learning experience across the curriculum.
Ben also has extensive experience producing an online revision video series for, among other things, the AQA Poetry from Different Cultures unit at GCSE.
Additionally Ben has been active in the online revision space with his Revision Blog. Ben was nominated for a National Teaching Award in the catagory of Next Generation Learning 2010, and lead his school to receiving “Highly Commended” status in the BECTA ICT awards 2009 in the catagory of “Best Whole School”.
Ben has already filmed his first course for RevisionBox. A comprehensive GCSE revision course for the English novel Mister Pip. A sample lesson can be viewed here.
Welcome to RevisionBox Ben!
In June we produced our first ever videos. Two of our teachers, Simon (Maths) and Michael (English) came over to Dublin for one day of intense filming. We ended up producing the pilots you see on the website now.
It was brilliant experience for us, we got to shoot some classroom footage as well as some more adventurous outdoor footage (Simon, a bright orange axe, and a tree was definitely the highlight). We found out loads on that shoot about filming, teaching and scripting. We quickly realised that shoots were going to take a lot longer than we initially (naively) thought.
Shooting the pilots were expensive, but well worth it. Planning our first full filming schedule wouldn’t have been possible without them, and the footage we got from the pilots has proven invaluable. We have used it in a number of different ways. It really helps with investors to see exactly what we are planning to produce, and also to give them confidence we can pull it off! Showing potential teachers a high quality product makes recruiting top class teachers much easier. We have also used the pilots to run much more in depth focus groups and other market research. Finally of course, we were able to put it on our website for potential students to see!
Lots more videos to be produced over the coming weeks – but it all started with those pilots back in June!!!
We realised really early on that the star of our show would be the teachers. RevisionBox will succeed or fail – based on how good our content is. Our teachers produce that content, making them the stars of our show. However the problem was – we didn’t have any of them…..
Finding top quality teachers was one of the hardest task during our early days – and we put a lot of effort into it. We found out that there is no quick or easy way to find good teachers, it basically involves following as many leads as you can. We spoke to teachers and ex teachers we knew, the CEO of Teach First, students and a former adviser to the education secretary in the UK. Everyone we spoke to gave us a few contacts – and we chased them all down, until we were talking to lots of teachers.
Once we made contact with teachers we began to speak to them about our ideas and vision for RevisionBox. We explained our goal of revolutionising education and exam revision. We told them how we planned to go about making it happen. Soon, we realised that these conversations with teachers were more than just sales pitches. Yes, we were partly trying to sell our idea to these teachers, but almost as importantly they were helping us refine our ideas. These teachers collectively had hundreds of hours of experience teaching students and were a goldmine of information and ideas. We modified our plans on length of lessons, launch subjects, format of lessons, course structures, live lessons and many other aspects of RevisionBox based on these initial conversions (luckily we also managed to get some awesome partner teachers on board!).
We were delighted at the enthusiastic response from most teachers, and we were very lucky to get some really great teachers on board early on. However it soon became obvious that not every teacher was right for RevisionBox – we needed teachers who were energetic, enthusiastic, talented, passionate about their subject and had the drive to put in the work required to design and script online courses. It was a tall order – and we had to turn some down along the way – but among all the teachers we spoke to, we found a few great ones (see our teachers profile page for two of them that have already filmed pilots)!!!
We are still recruiting teachers, e-mail Info@revisionbox.net for more details.
One of the early issues we grappled with was our name. We had so many
things we wanted the name to do. We wanted it to be distinctive, we wanted it to convey what we did, we wanted it to be memorable, we wanted it to be one that people would like.
We spent hours (maybe even days, it seemed like that anyway) debating names and testing names with family, friends, colleagues and others. Here are some of the ones we tried and rejected
- Tutorinabox (too many words)
- Tutify (people didn’t know what we meant by it)
- MakeThatGrade (there are already a set of revision books by this name)
- iGrade (we think Apple already did this one…)
- StudyBuddy (this one almost made it – we really liked it, we actually considered buying the domain from the guy who owned it)
- MyStudyDesk (no one liked this)
- RevisionZone (again this one came close)
And many more. Eventually we narrowed down the group to about 4 or 5 and put them to the ultimate test. We started advertising on google adwords to see if more people clicked on adverts containing any of the names. We had two clear winners ‘RevisionBox’ and ‘RevisionPal’ (one clear winner would have been much handier) so we were back to debating names again (although at least this time, just two names). Eventually we chose – and RevisionPal was born.
Yes – we spent about 2 months calling ourselves RevisionPal – we even had a logo designed. But on reflection we decided that RevisionBox worked better, it conveyed what we were about a little better (all your revision, in a box) and more importantly some students we spoke to told us they didn’t like RevisionPal – and we always listen to students – they are our customers after all.
So – RevisionBox it is……
Every business starts with an idea, or a gap in the marketplace that is not being served. The best place to start telling you about RevisionBox is probably to explain our idea. We want to bring the UK’s best teachers to every student in the UK.
There is a real gap between revision books (like Cliff Notes) and private tutors. The internet is changing the way we live our lives but people revise for exams in the same way they always have; serious students invest in revision books, highlight their text books and make notes. If they have any energy left after this they might even try and study…. If they can afford it, some students also invest in private tutors (but many can’t, as it costs about £800 pounds a year, and you get about 1 hour a week).
This is the gap RevisionBox will serve – we are recording lessons and courses from really excellent teachers (I’m really excited about the teachers we have, I’ll spend a whole blog post on them over the next few weeks) and we will sell them on our site, for a fraction of the cost of private tutors! We are doing a few other things too….but I don’t
want to turn this blog into a big advert!
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