CHALLENGES in textivate

Get your students competing in class or for homework with a Textivate CHALLENGE!!

A Challenge is a time-limited competition based on one or more of your existing textivate resources. (Anyone with a Premium or Group subscription can make challenges.)

The challenge menu

Click the trophy icon on the textivate home page (see image above). This opens up your challenge menu (see below), which lists all of the challenges that you have created. (It will be blank at first, of course, until you have created some challenges).

From the challenge menu you can make new challenges, delete or edit an existing challenge, or view an existing challenge.

The challenge menu is also where you need to go to copy the URL for your challenge, so that you can share it with your students.

Setting up a new challenge

Click on "New challenge" to create a new challenge. (Once you have challenges already set up, click on the Edit button for each challenge to make changes to it.)

  1. Give your challenge a title. 
  2. Add some resources to it. Click "Add resource(s)", and search through all of your own shareable and public resources. Select one or more resources to add them to the challenge. You can do this as many times as you like.
  3. Give your challenge a time limit. This can be anything from 5 mins to 30 days.
    (By default, textivate adds 7 days to the current system time on your device.)
  4. Decide whether or not your challenge requires a student password.
    (N.B. all challenges require a scoreboard name to be entered, but if you make your challenge require a password, students will need to log in using your username plus the shared student password.)
  5. Decide whether or not you want to enforce your own team names, requiring students to select from a list of team names specified by you. Simply separate your team names with semi-colons ;
    (See this blog post for more information.)
  6. Click "Save" to save your challenge.

Editing an existing challenge

If you have challenges already set up, click on the Edit button for each challenge to make changes to it. You can add or remove resources, change the expiry time for the challenge, change the password setting, the teams (add, remove), etc. 

Sharing a challenge

To share a challenge with your students, go to the challenge menu, scroll to the particular challenge that you want to share, and copy the URL for that challenge. You can then share it with your students via a link, google doc, email, webpage, etc.

The challenge scoreboard

Once students start competing in a challenge, the scoreboard starts to fill up with their names and scores. As students complete activities, they score points which are added to the scoreboard. Students can return to the scoreboard at any time to see where they are on the board.

If the teacher has an interactive whiteboard or projector, a good way to use the scoreboard is to log in (using the teacher password), open the challenge, and select the "Auto-refresh" check box at the bottom left of the scoreboard (see image above). This means that the scoreboard automatically updates every 30 seconds. This way, students can check the IWB screen to see where they are in the ranking rather than returning to the scoreboard each time (even though it is very easy for them to do so...).

Scoring points

As students complete activities, they are awarded scoreboard points. (See the green italic text inside the pop-up box in the above image.)

(You can also see from the above image that students can click the grey button at the top right of the screen at any point to return to the challenge screen and view the scoreboard.)

Notes regarding scoreboard points:

  1. You score more points for more difficult activities. 
  2. A better activity score means a higher scoreboard score.
  3. If you get a very low score for an activity, you may be told that 0 points have been uploaded. This is so that students can't simply click randomly to score points.
  4. Linked to point 1, text-entry activities score many more points than clicking or re-ordering activities. With this in mind, please make sure you don't set matching activities with L2 on the left and L1 on the right -- if you do this, you will be awarding lots of scoreboard points for spelling English (or whatever the L1 is) correctly.

How about an example?

OK, good idea. See this challenge based on one textivate resource. It's a text+match resource based on "chez moi", for KS3 French.

This challenge has been set up so that it doesn't need a password. So feel free to have a go with it -- all you need to do is key in a "scoreboard name" (i.e. how your name will appear on the scoreboard) and then click the link to have a go at the activities.

Teacher control

When you are logged in as a teacher, you can go to the challenge screen (i.e. the scoreboard) and delete all scores or specific scores by selecting all / some of the scores on the scoreboard. Deleting scores requires you to re-enter your username and teacher password.

Team, pair or individual competition

A challenge can be based on teams, on pairs or on individuals. To set up a team challenge, simply assign team names and ask members of each team to log in using their assigned team name. 

One of the benefits of a team competition is that all team members can feel that they are contributing to the overall team score, even if they, personally, are not the brightest and would quickly lose heart if they saw that their scores were very low while other students in the class were racing ahead. This would work particularly well if you set up "vertical" teams, where every team has a range of ability, and preferably equal numbers. (Having said that, allowing for varying numbers of team members might also be a good way of redressing the balance between groups of students with different abilities.)

Time scales

A challenge doesn't have to be limited to one class period. You can set a specific end point for the challenge - maybe one week from now, and let students spend time outside class time adding to their score. Why not set a challenge every week, as an optional extra, and reward those who get the highest scores?

Challenge v Sequence

A challenge is not the same as a sequence. What's the difference?

A sequence is a specific set of activities based on a particular resource. A sequence requires students to complete only the specified activities AND in the order specified. You can set a 'pass mark' for activities within a sequence, so that a student needs to score, say, 90%, in order to pass on to the next activity in the sequence. A record of time taken, individual scores and the overall score is uploaded to textivate when a student successfully completes a sequence. Teachers can access student scores via the gradebook icon on the textivate home page. See this blog post introducing sequences (and see also the links on that page to other posts related to sequences).

A challenge can be based on several resources. Students can do any of the activities from any of the resources included in the challenge. Points are added to the scoreboard after each activity. Scoreboard points are based on how well the activity is completed, and more difficult activities score more points than easier ones. Students and teachers can access the scoreboard at any time.

See also:



2 responses
Is there a way to specify activities (or a sequence of activities) in a challenge? Say I want the kids to start with 2x6 and then to 4x6 or whatever.
Hi Chris. No, that's what sequences are for. See You can set the order of activities, a pass mark for each activity as well as setting various other parameters. And you get a record of scores and time taken via the gradebook icon on the textivate home page.