CalcMonitor™: who is it for?
CalcMonitor™ is a smartphone graphing calculator for students in high school and college. Graphing calculators are required in many mathematics, engineering, and science classes, and students are often forced to buy these cheaply-made, expensive, clunky devices. CalcMonitor™ is a smartphone calculator app that is designed to be classroom or exam compliant.
How does it work?
CalcMonitor™ includes a default calculator that can be used at any time, online or offline. For use in a classroom setting, CalcMonitor™ offers Exam Mode: a student enters basic information (student name, class name, and teacher/proctor name and e-mail address), turns off all device networking, and enters Exam Mode. In this mode, the student has full use of a standard graphing calculator except for CAS (Computer Algebra System) commands. The app tracks whether the student attempts to leave the app or restore networking and terminates Exam Mode if so. When Exam Mode is exited, the app prepares a report including the student name, start time, end time, and IP address, which are sent to our servers when the device is again connected to the Internet. These reports are then compiled and forwarded to the designated proctor/teacher at the aforementioned e-mail address.
What if a student mistakenly exits Exam Mode?
If the student hits the phone's Back button during Exam Mode, the app will ask to confirm whether the student really means to exit Exam Mode. If the student hits the Home button (this is a phone function which we cannot control), then the student has a grace period of a few seconds to return to the app without Exam Mode terminating. Any longer is considered an exam/classroom security breach, and Exam Mode exits and a report is prepared noting the exit time.
In case of exit, the student may always re-enter Exam Mode, but this will be reported as two separate uses of Exam Mode, and an instructor might request an explanation for why this occurred.
If the phone screen goes to sleep while in Exam Mode, when you wake the phone up again you will still be in Exam Mode.
What is the difference between the free and Pro versions of CalcMonitor™?
In the free app, our graphing calculator and Exam Mode can be used, but the Exam Mode notification service will only work with institutions (colleges and universities) who have made arrangements with us for their students to use it. Otherwise, the Pro version will be needed to fully utilize Exam Mode.
Is the app available for non-Android phones?
At the moment CalcMonitor™ is only available for Android. An iOS version is in development.
Can I use the free app or do I need to purchase CalcMonitor Pro™?
If your institution has contracted with us to make CalcMonitor™ free for its students, you can use all the features of Exam Mode in the free app. You can also try our graphing calculator and Exam Mode (without the proctor notification service) for free. Otherwise, you will need to purchase the Pro version, which is reasonably priced.
Do I have to register or sign up to use the app?
No, once you download the app you can start using it right away. When you activate Exam Mode you will be prompted to supply your name, the name of the exam/class, and the name and e-mail address of your designated proctor/teacher. No other information is required.
Is there a limit on the use of the calculator or Exam Mode?
You can use the calculator for as long as you own a suitable device. Pro users have unlimited use of Exam Mode and its reporting service for a period of at least two years from the date of purchase. After this time, if you want to continue using the reporting service, you may have to purchase a newer version of the app. For the free version, how long Exam Mode is fully available depends on the arrangement with your institution.
What are some features of the graphing calculator?
The graphing calculator that is part of CalcMonitor™ is one of the most advanced on the market. Besides the usual scientific calculator functions and graphing capabilities, it can handle derivatives, integrals (indefinite or definite), Riemann sums, matrix algebra, determinants, probability distributions, binomial coefficients, plotting implicit functions, and much more. See the GeoGebra tutorial for details.
There are also many command shortcuts. Next to the input bar is a question mark with a circle, which will take you to documentation; for each command, the question mark to the right of it will bring up the syntax for using that command.
My teacher/proctor is skeptical of CalcMonitor™. What do I do?
Ask them to visit this site and this FAQ. They are also welcome to write to us and we will be happy to respond personally. CalcMonitor™ was designed by two mathematicians, one of whom has been teaching mathematics at an American public university for over 20 years. We understand an educator's natural skepticism and we are here to dispel their doubts.
I am concerned about privacy; what information do you collect or share?
Do I need to download the app to monitor my students?
No, the app on each student's phone will prepare reports, and they will be compiled and sent to you if you are designated by them as a proctor. You are of course welcome to download the app to check it out.
Why should I agree to using CalcMonitor™? Students seem happy enough with the graphing calculators they are currently using.
The graphing calculators that students use were designed in the 1990s. They use cheap components and pixellated screens with low resolution, and yet routinely cost upwards of $100. It is time that we save students money by leveraging the capabilities of modern devices, which most students already own. CalcMonitor™ costs a fraction of what students pay for graphing calculators, and is designed from the ground up for use in a classroom/exam setting.
I have 50 students in my class. If they all use CalcMonitor™ for an exam will I get 50 e-mails from you?
No, CalcMonitor™ is designed to be minimally intrusive for teachers. Our server waits a couple of hours for reports on Exam Mode use to stream in, compiles them into a spreadsheet, and then sends you a single e-mail with the spreadsheet attached as a CSV file. Ideally all reports would be in one e-mail, but some students may not immediately have network access, and so there may be extra e-mails to include these “stragglers”.
I recently finished proctoring an exam; why haven't I received any reports yet?
First, you will need to wait a couple of hours, as our service gives students time for their devices to connect to a network and send reports before it aggregates and e-mails them. Second, you will need to confirm your e-mail address before any reports will be sent to it; you should have received a confirm e-mail, but if not you can follow the foregoing link. Finally, you should check your spam folder, because sometime valid e-mail gets wrongly marked as spam by mail software.
If you still have not received reports and believe you should have, please contact us and we will investigate.
I originally asked to not receive reports from CalcMonitor™ but have changed my mind. How do I start receiving reports?
Please contact us.
How do I use CalcMonitor™ in my class?
The default calculator has a purple/blue bar on the top. Exam Mode is badged with a distinctive red bar on the top, along with “Exam Mode” in bold text. This should be easy to spot while proctoring.
Does this guarantee that a student will not cheat?
No, a complete guarantee is never possible. Rather, Exam Mode adds a deterrent which should be used in concert with routine proctoring. In general, no system can be foolproof, and this is also true of handheld calculators: since the student has physical control of the device, it may be possible to modify it to defeat enforcement measures. However, CalcMonitor™ provides an effective mechanism for preventing misuse of the device in the most common cases.