Hot Potatoes -                                        

The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling users to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. The program is not freeware, but can be used free of charge by non-profit educational organizations. Versions are available for both PC and Macintosh platforms. A Java capable browser is required to view pages created with this program – I.E. and Netscape versions 4 or higher. Good examples of its usage are provided on the company website, along with a free add-on that requires the use of a Flash player.

The PC version of the program uses about 10 MB of disk space and can be downloaded as a zip file or a self-extracting, auto-installing zip file. After installing the program, users must obtain a registration key from the Hot Potatoes website by filling out an online form. The key allows the user the full functionality of the program. The built-in instructions and a tutorial are adequate and the website does offer a discussion list for support.

This program is quite good for “educational freeware” and does not have a high learning curve. The major limitation is the lack of a management system – scores are not permanently recorded. It’s a great tool for self-assessment and reinforcement. The prerequisite skills needed to use this software would include familiarity with creating web pages and some experience with website management.

Quia  -

Quia allows teachers to build on-line games, quizzes and class pages with their own content. The quiz sessions allow a teacher to track student scores and view detailed statistical results of student performance. Images can also be imbedded into the quiz layout. On the class pages teachers can post homework assignments, class schedules, and personal and school contact information and links. Quia also provides a directory where teachers may share their work. Submissions to this directory are evaluated and consist of the best work from Quia users.

Currently, the site is only available via subscription at $49/year. A free 30-day trial subscription to the Quia web site is available. The following premium features have been added: column and cloze activity, no advertising, ability to copy activities to your account, customized banner, remembers your last class page, and faster technical support.

Strengths of this site include good administration (Activity Manager) and reporting features, and in-depth grading tools. Links to teacher created Quia activities can also be directly embedded on a user’s personal web page. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use assessment creation tool and website to house your work, this site is for you.

QuizStar -

This web-based utility allows teachers to create a custom quiz that can be taken online. Similar to the Quia website, this may work well if you have a lesson plan centered around Internet sites (WebQuest), or if you wish students to be able to do take-home assignments over the Internet.

The program creates quizzes, which can be taken generically or by enrollment. Multiple-choice, true/false and short answer questions can be incorporated in the same quiz. Students can also be grouped by class name. Quizzes can be activated and deactivated to be online on certain dates. Students are able to take assigned quizzes and view correct answers and scores received on all quizzes. Additionally, the management system allows the teacher to be notified by E-mail after a student has taken a quiz. The teacher can track each time a student takes a quiz and see aggregate data for all quizzes taken by each student. Correct answers can be hidden on quizzes.

The interface is very easy to use. The program offers the teacher two different enrollment options: students may enroll themselves or a teacher can enroll them and keep the assessments private. This is a site worth looking at.