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Crowdmark Logo: Grade BetterExam pain is not limited to students, notes Tony Wan of EdSurge in his profile of UTEST start-up company, Crowdmark.

The article, “Crowdmark Lends a Helping Hand with Handwritten Assessments: How one savvy professor is scaling human grading capabilities for handwritten responses” appeared Mar. 17, 2013.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dr. James Colliander, co-founder and CEO of Crowdmark
Dr. James Colliander, co-founder and CEO of Crowdmark. Photo courtesy of Denise Grant. Used with permission.

James Colliander, a Professor Mathematics at the University of Toronto, knew this pain all too well. As a grader for the 2011 Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge, he and a team of volunteers had to deal with 70,000 pages of hand-written responses, a “tremendously inefficient, logistical nightmare” that involved paper shuffling and moving boxes of exams.

That’s when he started working on a way to scale human assessment capabilities. In April 2011, Colliander joined UTEST (University of Toronto Early Stage Technology), an incubator launched by the University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation, to work on his solution, Crowdmark.

Here’s how it works. Blank exams and student rosters are scanned into Crowdmark, which spits out exams with unique student QR codes that the teacher can then print and hand out. After students finish, the exams are scanned again and uploaded into the Crowdmark system. From there on, graders can work alone or in teams to leave scores and comments. It saves graders time–and papercuts–from lugging around stacks of papers. Students are spared from messy handwriting and able to see the grading process in a more transparent manner.

Colliander took his prototype to the 2012 Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge, where he saw that graders using Crowdmark finished in half the time as it took in 2011.

The full article is available on

EdSurge is an independent information resource and community for everyone involved in education technology. It aims to help educators discover the best products and how to use them and to inspire developers to build what educators and learners need.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, marketing and communications manager.

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