Sunday, July 18, 2010

Make a Quiz on the Cloud (ProProfs Quiz Maker)

There is a new addition to the Free Cloud Apps page, it's ProProfs Quiz Maker. Quiz Maker is a quick and easy way to build a quiz that is hosted on the cloud.  No software needed, it is completely web-based. You can easily post a link to your quiz from a blog or web page. It also has the functionality to tweet a link or add to Facebook or MySpace. Proprofs was gracious enough to give me a complimentary account (full disclosure) to test drive it. Here is a link to a simple quiz I made to test some of the features and so you can see some of what it does - Take my Rhode Island History quiz.

Although you can embed the quiz in blogs and sites, it uses iFrames, which does not play nice with my WordPress blog, otherwise I would have done so here. I was told they are working on a new widget with additional customizations for embedding the quizzes, which is expected later this week. However, it is very easy to post a link to your quizzes (like above) or share via social media.

Here is what I like about Quiz Maker:

  • It is extremely user-friendly.

  • It is on the Cloud, so users have access anywhere, whether taking a quiz or building one.

  • You can add images,  video, and links to each question.

  • You can add feedback.

  • They offer a free version.

  • You can track participation, including each user's answers and quiz stats. I was impressed with how easy it was to view participants' answers and overall quiz stats. I wish most learning management systems (LMS) made this same task so easy. FYI: Tracking is not included with the free account.

  • According to a representative from ProProfs they are currently working on SCORM compatibility, so integration with an LMS is on the horizon.

What I wish it had:

  • If you update/edit a quiz the stats are reset to zero. So, once you have a quiz made, make sure it is the absolute  final version.

  • More question types. They have multiple choice, fill in the blank and essays, but it would be great if they had some more interactive options like hot spots, drag and drop or matching, etc. Hopefully they will expand the question types in the future.

  • I am splitting hairs, but I would like to see the fill in the blank allow the blank to be placed anywhere in the sentence. Unless I missed something, it appears the blank could only be placed at the end of a sentence.

  • I would have liked to be able to also add graphics, video and links to the feedback.

Regarding the free version, you cannot add the creator's name to the certificate and it is only an ad free trial for seven days, then ads will be posted. Also the tracking and stats features are not included in the free account after seven days. You can view the comparisons of pricing plans here, including what you do and don't get with the free account. FYI: They do have a very reasonably priced plan for educational users.

All in all, if you are looking to create and share simple quizzes with the benefits of doing so on the Cloud, it is worth your time. I will emphasize the word "simple" because if you are looking for more interactive question types (e.g. hot spots, drag and drop, graded sims, etc.), you will probably need to utilize more robust e-learning authoring tools to do so.

If you are interested in taking Quiz Maker for a spin, here is the link again - ProProfs Quiz Maker.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Google App Inventor - Make Apps/m-Learning

Google is releasing App Inventor for Android. You can find it listed at Google Labs and can learn more about it at

There is obvious potential for m-learning, including quizzes, educational games, mini-courses, informal learning.. really the sky is the limit. If development is as easy as they claim, then we can focus even more on design and are not as limited by the complexity of app development. The App Inventor uses Open Blocks, which is distributed by MIT's Scheller Teacher Education Program. Please note, the apps are for Androids and I will assume they will not be supported across all smart phones, which is a hindrance in developing m-learning.

According to the site, they will be granting access to interested users in the coming weeks. I have put in my request and will let everyone know if/when it is granted. All that is needed is a Google account to sign up.

Here is a video Google provides showing the development of a very simple app.

Google also provides descriptions of examples that have been developed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Do We Have an LMS?

That's me

Warning, this is a bit of a rant written mostly for my own need in sorting through how I really feel about learning management systems (LMSs). If you work with the average LMS you probably understand.

I have worked numerous different LMSs, some good and some not so good. I don't think I have used any considered "user-friendly" on either the admin or the user end. Currently, I am getting to know another LMS and trying to be patient with its quirks and illogical design. To give it some credit it is not much quirkier, or designed much worse, than most other LMSs (most are drek). As in the past, once I get used to the peculiarities of the system I am sure I will begin to tolerate it and even be able to do what is needed. However, learning to get it to do what you want it to does take quite a bit of hair pulling and shouting many nasty phrases at it. I also have received great deal of help from my coworkers who also work with the system, in which I am extremely grateful. If you are reading this, thank you.

Now, why the heck do we even use these things? Here are the crazy reasons we keep hearing in the corporate training world.

  1. "Auditors are going to ask for reports showing everyone took the compliance courses."

  2. "We need to give assessments and see that learning occurred."

  3. "We need a way for staff to enroll in classroom training."

  4. "So staff can access their transcripts."

  5. "We have to track EVERYTHING!"

Some of these reasons are valid to a point, but do we really need a cumbersome LMS for all this? First off, we do not need to track everything. We should be more concerned that staff are learning and applying what they learned than if they have the word "completed" next to their name. In the case of assessments it may demonstrate learning, but not the application of what was learned or the results of its application. It is very important that learning occurred, but please do not assume they did anything with it. As far as classroom enrollment and transcripts, I am confident there are cheaper, easier alternatives for those tasks.

Yes, there is some practicality in the fore-mentioned list and I am not naive enough to think we can simply write off the LMS so quickly. And yeah, I know the auditors want to see a report that has the word "completed" next to each person's name. However, in my perfect world we can offer courses that are accessible outside the LMS and our audience take courses because of their thirst to learn not to get the word "completed" placed next to their name.

For the record, I see the value in having an LMS, but I also see  its limitations, hindrances, and how it can be when overused. I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with it.

What value do you see in an LMS or what do you see as reasons we do not need one?

Thank you for allowing me to vent on this subject. I have to get back to completing a bulk enrollment and then run a couple of reports.

That's me working on the LMS