tutor-web and SMLY New Year’s letter 2015

Happy New Year everyone

Here is a quick note on how the tutor-web project is doing. We changed the system quite a bit in 2014 and have plans for more changes in 2015. 

Grading schemes, timeouts and parameters

  • The tutor-web is now only in a mobile web version and the older interface has been abolished. Students can download entire tutorials and keep working on them even while offline.
  • The grading scheme has been completely rewritten. Grades are still based only on recent answers (the tail), but the length of the tail can be decided for each lecture separately, through the weighting scheme, which can give much more weight to the most recent answer, be a linear taper etc. Each features is set through a parameter value.
  • The timeout features in the tutor-web have been further developed and extensively tested, based on several parameters.
  • Parameters can be set globally, within a tutorial, within a lecture or chosen randomly from an interval, separately for each student in each lecture.

Self-assessments and increased participation

Students can now submit and peer-review drill questions. The probability of a submission or review request is a parameter. The first tests of this approach demonstrated several problems and also demonstrated that the approach is quite feasible. The next step is to analyse the data from 2014 and to decide on design changes for fall 2015 when this will next be tested.


An electronic currency was set up, the smileycoin (SMLY), to be used for rewards (think smileys but in an electronic grade book) in the system:


  • Students get SMLY rewards for performance on drills. In terms of the classroom this has so far only been tested for debugging purposes. We will only see full-scale runs later this spring - or fall at the latest.
  • The plan is to have very skewed rewards: a very small reward for satisfying minimal requirements and jump to a much greater reward for excellence.
  • The SMLY can also be bought and sold on an exchange (c-cex.com).
  • Note that although this is a currency, the SMLY name alone should reduce expectations of this being a huge source of income: The primary use is as a small reward. The actual financial value will be very very small until possibly after we find more general use for the "coin".
  • Miners can mine the currency (like bitcoin).





We are now investigating further uses of the coin, ranging from buying coffee through using it in computer games. 

Material and more

            We are migrating old material into the mobile web version. That should be completed this spring semester. Please let us know if you miss anything and we will move that up the list of priorities. This has involved some system development, but it is moving along nicely.

            Of course we still apply every time we see a grant opportunity. So far we have only received small grants, but they have been enough to keep us moving a little bit forward every year.

            If you want to follow us, you can find me as @gstefans on twitter, or on our web pages, particularly on http://tutor-web.info 

            We would love your comments!
            Here is to another good tutor-web year!

            PS In case you have not seen it, my own motivation for the project is best described in the TEDx Reykjavik video http://bit.ly/tedx-gunnar