An Apple a Day

 
 

This morning we had one of our regular summit meetings and came to a momentous decision: we will soon be working on the iOS version of our FCE Academy app.

We hope to be in the app store in a month or so. Meanwhile, if you would like to try it for free, please sign up here. We gave lots of teachers and students completely free access to our Android app during development, so why not for Apple users?

 

Some lovely feedback :-)

We've had some lovely feedback from one of our first student  users, Vanessa:

La app está muy bien. Es sencilla de descargar y los ejercicios son muy prácticos. Yo tengo un móvil muy normal y aun así es muy fácil de usar. A parte suelo ser muy torpe con la tecnología y esta app me ha resultado sencilla de manejar.
Puedes practicar en cualquier momento y no tienes q estar buscando ejercicios por internet con el pc.
Felicidades por esta app tan útil.

Which we think translates as:

The app is great. It is simple to download and the exercises are very practical. I have an average mobile and yet it is very easy to use . Plus I’m not very tech savvy and I still found it easy to use.
You can practise any time and don’t have to use your PC connected to the internet.
Congratulations on such a useful app.

The Story of an App Part 15: Week one report

Well, one week into publication. How are we doing?

We began the week by sharing our app with teachers and students who had signed up during our development. We've had 39 installations from eight countries.

We have had some lovely reviews from students trying the app. Here are a few sample quotes from our new favourite people:

I think it could help who really want to improve their preparation for the exam. I like it more because you can continue practising on the train, the bus or everywhere else.
— Serge
It’s good to have this app if you like learning through your phone. Very helpful and well organized. I’d recommend it to everybody.
— Natalia
Highly recommended for anyone who intends to present the First.
— Pablo
I am delighted with the application because of all I’ve had, this is the best ever. It is helping me a lot to improve and recommend it to everyone who will be presented to FCE. It’s great!!!
— Ana
FUNDAMENTAL This application is very useful to practice your FCE testing tool. I bought books with many least 5 times more expensive resources and similar objectives.
— Abraham

The Story of an App Part 14: We have lift-off!

Here at FCE Academy, we have our very own catch-phrase: To Infinity and Beyond!

OK, we may not have thought of it, but we say it a lot.

On June 25th we said it more than a lot, because we finally published our brand new app, FCE Academy. You can get it right now from Google Play, In fact you definitely should - the more teachers and students get to see it the better.

We are so keen, we are offering it for free to anyone who contacts us to request a code. Absolutely free, no obligations, but we'd love it if you left a review. Preferably with five stars.

Meanwhile, we have to tidy up the garden...

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The Story Of An App Part 13: Champagne on ice

The last few days have been a blur of development releases, fine-tuning, proofreading and LOTS of user testing – and it has all been worth it: all identified bugs and issues have been addressed and tomorrow, exactly on schedule, we will receive the final FCE Academy delivery. And, oh, it is good. More than good, really. In truth, it is a thing of beautiful excellence but we will have to let the users make up their own minds … Watch this space for a publication announcement on June 14th. 

The story of an app part 13: Testing update

Our testing team - 22 teachers from around the world - have begun to feed back. Their thoughts so far have been overwhelmingly positive.

I loved how it was so easy to use - I think the students would love it.
— KB

(Don't forget these are not our friends and relations - these are ELT teachers we have met on Facebook and Twitter - so it's lovely to get good feedback from them.)

We're getting loads of great ideas for amendments to the basic app, and we're also getting a few bugs, of which we think Kate's impressive score for Part 4 is in the lead for most puzzling. Surely even teachers aren't that good?

Everything needs fixing before release, so we're working very hard at the moment.

The story of an app part 12: Testing times

 

Bang on schedule, we've given the FCE Academy app its first internal sign-off and sent it out to some real-life users -- ELT teachers from around the world -- to see what they think.

If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook (come on, why wouldn't you?), you'll have noticed us organising a big recruitment drive for teachers. Friends and family are OK, but we needed our app tested by real teachers out there teaching real students. We were delighted with the response -- we have people in Spain, Ireland, England, Israel, Pakistan and Brazil -- a wonderful mix and, most importantly, we've been impressed by their expertise and attention to detail since testing started.

Already, we have logged some minor bugs but nothing has come up (yet!) to cause us sleepless nights. Let's hope everyone's this smiley when development is complete and the app is live (June 14th) ...

 
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P.S. If you'd like a preview, sign up here. We may have another round of testing later in the month.

The story of an app part 11: What's in a name?

And there's a logo to go with the name...

And there's a logo to go with the name...

Well, it's taken us a while, but we're finally brave enough to share our new app's name with you... [drumroll...] ... FCE Academy!

Our teacher community (well, most of it) likes the name, and we think it sounds suitably serious (well, we are going to have more practice tests than any other resource) as well as suitably app-like.

We hope you like it :-)

The story of an App part 10: Countdown to Launch

 

 

The last week has been intensely busy for all of us as we continue to polish our final design and code approximately 16,000 words of (expert-reviewed, original!) content. We've also been speaking with teachers from all over the world to see if they’d like to help us with the final stages of testing. So far we have 20 lovely people signed up to receive a late iteration of the app next week. Let us know if you fit the criteria for this and would like to be a part of the team. The more the merrier! 

The countdown to launch on June 14th 2016 has begun  …

 

The story of an app Part 8: the first delivery

Yesterday, we received the first version of the app - just a few screens, including one exam type (Part C: Word Formation) - from our developer, Pavel, and we are VERY pleased with how it looks and works! We can see now, for the first time, how the various interactions will actually work and it is great to see that most of our assumptions have been correct! The next step will be to carefully review this first delivery and feed back to the developer so that they can continue with the next stage of development, which will be to produce a more complete version of the app. This next iteration will need to be rigorously tested and this is why we are inviting teachers from around the world to take part in the trials. For further information, teachers can sign up on the website and, in return for their help, will receive a free app. Onwards and upwards..!

 

The Story of an App Part 7: reviewing the content

 
 
 

To make sure that the FCE Academy app will be better than anything else out there, we have focused on producing high-quality texts that ultimately could be used in the Cambridge exam. Last week, we enlisted the services of an FCE examination expert: a writing examiner for the Cambridge: FCE exam and an experienced oral examiner for Cambridge examinations, and asked them to review our content for:

  • level (are the texts and assessments pitched at exactly the right level for FCE candidates?) 
  • length (are they too long or too short when compared to the typical length of the texts used in the exam?)
  • and language (is the language used in each text correct and appropriate for the FCE exam?).

We were delighted to receive a positive report, generally speaking, and have accepted the reviewer's few, important points on language and certain issues concerning assessment. The editor, Tom, and author, Mike, will now go back over each text with the reviewer's feedback in mind and make the necessary adjustments. This is hard work, given how many bespoke texts we have, but we know how crucial it is to the future success of the app. 

 

The story of an app part 5: Specification

Imagine a 30-page document describing in detail every feature of an FCE test app.

What happens when you click every button? What happens when you get an answer correct or incorrect? What can a user see on every screen? How big should the text be?

Now imagine you have to write that document so that it can be interpreted without confusion ...

It's detailed work, but it's very important to get our ideas down before we begin talking to our developer.

And then, of course, every one of those 30 pages will need to be discussed and probably changed ...