Easy Collaborative Learning – Crowdsource With Your Students

It’s often said that students learn better by teaching others. I was contacted last week by a student wishing to build a SmashFact activity for his study group– SmashFact.com is a free site that helps teachers transfer course content into a mobile study app. The student complained that the course content contained a lot of difficult information, and the class itself was a bit dry. The students were looking for a fun way to study “boring course stuff.” Then it hit me. Why not increase student engagement and collaboration by having the students build a SmashFact activity to test their peers? I know that a faculty member’s time is often split between service work,  research, a ton of writing, publishing AND not to mention teaching and advising. So often there’s little time left for enhancing one’s course to make it more engaging. This way, each student spends just a few minutes creating a handful of multiple-choice questions to stump their peers, and the activity builds itself in time for midterm exams.

So here’s how to quickly get the students up and running after creating a free account on SmashFact.com…
  1. Save a copy of our pre-formatted spreadsheet template from Google Docs Templates. Share the “Student Collaboration Activity” form URL with students. Instructions are included in the template.
  2. Divide students into teams. Each team gets assigned a chapter or unit of the course prior to midterm exam. Each student on the team has to enter 3-4 unique multiple-choice questions about the unit designed to ‘stump’ their peers. Have them enter the questions in the form at the URL you send them. All answers will be compiled on an easy to read spreadsheet. See images below.
  3. Review and approve their questions and answers to make sure they are teaching their peers the proper info. This also offers an opportunity to gauge student understanding on topics to date.
  4. Share the document with support(at)smashfact.com when you are ready. Our support team will upload the questions into your SmashFact activity database and prep the activity for your students. We’ll send you all the information they will need to get the study app on their device.
DONE with a custom aligned activity in time for midterms!!!
The Template form students use to add questions and answers to the activity

The Template form students use to add questions and answers to the activity

Google Template Spreadsheet

The instructor’s view of the first student’s effort in the collaborative activity

Google Sheet Result iPad

A preview (on SmashFact.com) of how the study app looks on a student’s device.

The students can repeat this process through the second half of the semester for Final exams. Once the content is shared with the SmashFact support team, SmashFact loads in fresh content every time the student starts the app. Teachers never have to touch it again. And, future students can use the activity for as long as the class is taught!
When we created SmashFact.com, we set out to make the interface as easy to use as we could at the time. But, in effort to further streamline making an activity, we’ve created a few more solutions. We offer to personally help faculty by converting old tests to study activities (reach out to us below), and, I’ve also created a Google Docs Spreadsheet Template that is pre-formatted to help teaching or grad assistants enter activity questions quickly, and efficiently, whether on teams or working alone. These are good solutions. But, an important one that was missing was student collaboration.
We’re baking more serious collaboration into Version 2 of SmashFact. But, using the Google Docs Template is an easy way to get there until then.

Free SmashFact for your students for two years


Create and share one SmashFact activity covering Common Core (K-12) or discipline-specific intro classes (Higher Education) and receive FREE SmashFact desktop app licenses for two years.


By clicking “I’m interested” you acknowledge that you have read The Fine Print (after the jump) and agree to the terms and conditions herein.

Continue reading

Build on or modify your current activity


Change a Q&A pair, add levels, change an image–your students will always see the latest version of your activity

Every time your students launch their SmashFact app they will see the latest version of your activity. This allows you to build your activity as the semester progresses, rather than in one sitting. It also means you can go back in and modify any of the content used in your SmashFact activity.

Smashing Suggestion: With the semester coming to an end soon, challenge your students by adding in additional bonus levels.


Photo credit: jo.schz under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Students, no sign up needed to use SmashFact


Getting the SmashFact app is easy for students–just download it from any app store.

One of the best things about the SmashFact app is that it is designed for mobile devices. Students can play SmashFact activities on-the-go with the app installed on their phone or tablet. There is no signing up necessary, just tell them to head to one of the app stores listed below:

For Apple users, visit the App Store to download SmashFact for iPhone or SmashFact HD for iPad.

For Android users, visit the Google Play Store to download SmashFact for phone or SmashFact HD for tablet.

Android users can also visit the Amazon App Store to download SmashFact for phone or SmashFact HD for tablet.

If a student prefers to play SmashFact on their desktop, or if you are interested in purchasing the SmashFact app for your classroom computers, visit our Britt Carr Interactive Learning Shop to download SmashFact Student Version for Desktop.

Photo credit: PhotoAtelier under CC BY-2.0

Preparing for Midterms with SmashFact


It’s officially Autumn now and already time to start thinking about midterm exams

How do you help your students prepare for midterms? Do you provide practice tests? A list of the vocabulary terms? Do students dread studying from these types of aids?

With SmashFact you can easily turn these static documents into fun, interactive mobile games that help your students study. They will love racing the clock and advancing levels, all while experiencing greater retention of the important information.

Smashing Suggestion: If you have a static study aid that you think would be a great SmashFact game, but don’t have the time to make it, contact us. Our team can help get it into your students’ hands in time to study for midterms.

Photo credit: John Morgan under CC BY-2.0

SmashFact Offers a New Kind of Tutoring


Upperclassmen build SmashFact games for introductory courses

SmashFact offers a new kind of tutoring that benefits both sides–plus it is a lot more fun! Have your upperclassmen create SmashFact games for students in the introductory courses.

The upperclassmen benefit from:

  • reviewing the content
  • learning how to create an assessment
  • and designing a mobile game (who wouldn’t want to do that for an assignment?)

The students in the introductory classes benefit from having an engaging, interactive way to learn and study the fundamental concepts of the subject.

Photo credit: Lower Columbia College under CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

SmashFact Now Supports Longer Questions & Answers


SmashFact v.1.2 now supports longer questions and answers as well as Spanish characters

We heard many requests from Educators, like yourself, to increase the number of characters allowed per question and answer in a SmashFact activity. So, we have spent the past couple months researching and testing ideal font sizes for mobile devices (since we have seen that most students play SmashFact on their tablet or phone). Now, when you edit your activities, you will notice that a question can be up to 90 characters and the answer/distractors up to 95 (we have included a handy character counter to help keep track).

We have not only expanded the questions and answers, SmashFact now supports Western character sets for foreign languages. We have found that the audio feature in SmashFact makes it a great tool for studying foreign language, and the image feature makes Asian and Arabic languages possible as well.

Photo credit: Libby Levi under CC BY-SA 2.0

Come Prepared for Class with SmashFact


SmashFact helps your students better prepare for the in-class activities

Instead of spending your valuable class time reviewing the basics of a subject, give your students the tools to learn and study this type of content on their own. This opens up more time for discussions, activities, and project work–the type of complex learning where students need your support the most.

Smashing Suggestion: Structure your levels by each week’s discussion, activity, or project topic, and include the facts and vocab students will need to know to participate. Then, ask the students to play just those levels before coming to next week’s class.

Photo credit: Do8y under CC BY-ND 2.0

Ideas for Structuring Your SmashFact Game Levels


By difficulty, by topic, by chapter or week…be creative!

Levels make up the main structure of your SmashFact activity, and there are endless possibilities for organizing them. Here are a couple ideas:

  • By difficulty: Design the lower levels with easier questions and the higher levels with more difficult challenges.
  • By topic: Organize the levels by similar content–mixing easy and hard questions in each level. For example, in an art class, levels could be: “Name the Artist” or “Name the Style”; for music class, levels could be: “Identify the Solo Instrument” or “Name the Year.”
  • By chapter or week: Does your curriculum follow a text book or lecture series? Use the chapter structure or sections of the series to form the levels. For example, the levels could be: “Chapter 1” or “Introduction to Communication.”

Smashing Suggestion: One SmashFact activity can have up to 32 levels. In your first activity, use the 32 to experiment with different structures to see what works best for you and your students. Also, instead of making separate activities for the same class, use levels to separate the type or cognitive difficulty of the content.

Photo credit: Bev Goodwin