Albert.io receives mixed reviews from students, teachers

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photo by Peyton Whittington

Freshman Brigette Hahn completes an Albert.io assignment for AP Human Geography.

Peyton Whittington, Managing Editor

It is midnight and senior Colton Richard is awake, feeling the weight of senioritis as he attempts to knock out a 150-question Albert.io assignment for AP Environmental Science at the last minute. He clicks the “Submit Answer” button and is greeted by a 502 error.

This year, students and teachers were introduced to a new AP exam review tool when the school purchased a schoolwide license for Albert.io. The site offers high-level AP style multiple-choice questions that stay up-to-date with changes made to specific exams by the College Board. Albert.io also provides explanations after each question has been answered and instant data analysis of students’ strongest and weakest subject areas for teachers. These selling points allow Albert.io to compete with other commonly used review tools like review books and flashcards.

“Our students are so computer-literate, and having a review on the computer allows them to use a medium that they enjoy,” assistant principal Gisela Cotto said. “We feel that it’s a tool that has a lot of potential moving forward with our AP program.”

Teachers Dali Stires, Robin Grenz and Romina Jannotti headed the push for school-wide use of Albert.io and presented proposals to school organizations to request funding. The School Advisory Committee and social studies department each provided $1,000. The PTSA, the science department and the school itself also contributed.

In the proposal, the three teachers cited the fact that Stires’ passing scores increased from 55 percent in the 2014-2015 school year to 68 percent in the 2015-2016 school year, which is when she introduced content from a limited access subscription of Albert.io to her AP Human Geography classes. When subscription rates increased this year, the three got the idea of asking the school for funding.

“Winter Springs, Crooms and Seminole High have been using Albert all year,” Stires said. “We finally thought, ‘If it’s being used in the county, why can’t we join?’”

The school first introduced teachers to Albert.io during a Wednesday teacher meeting held after spring break. Teachers were informed that the school purchased the Standard Albert.io license and were encouraged to use the site as one of their exam review tools.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Is [Albert.io] good enough to replace something I know is already working?’” calculus teacher Carolyn Guzman said, referring to review materials she already uses. “If I had less resources to use, I might be more optimistic about it, but I have to be wary of what resources are best for [my students].”

Guzman chose to make Albert.io questions extra credit, which is what several other teachers decided on after receiving student complaints that each class was assigning an excessive number of questions at the same time. These complaints had less to do with Albert.io as a review tool and spoke more to its technological faults and untimely introduction so close to AP exams. Students often received 502 errors, as they were unable to submit answers due to an overload of site users.

“My issue with it is I don’t think the platform itself is [prepared] for the massive amounts of students using it,” Richard said. “When you’re trying to turn something in due at night and you keep getting a 502 error, it’s very frustrating because it’s nothing on your end.”

Students took to Twitter to express their frustration.

Despite its technical difficulties, students like junior Alyssa Caples and sophomore Jesse Fei, with five AP classes each, appreciate Albert.io’s ability to refresh them on specific areas.

“Some of the questions really brought to my mind certain concepts that I was missing and allowed me to study those more,” Caples said.

However, Albert.io’s main downfall for students remains its implementation so late in the school year.

“They should’ve introduced Albert at the beginning of the school year so we could gradually answer all the questions, instead of answering a whole course in a week,” senior Alexis Hancock said.

School administration has already begun the process of renewing student Albert.io subscriptions for next year to alleviate this complaint. With 961 students taking AP exams this year and a total of 2,062 exams administered this testing season, only the release of AP scores in July will determine Albert.io’s effectiveness in student exam preparation.

“Now that we’ve seen the capabilities, we understand that it’s a tool used best when used throughout the year,” Stires said.

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