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  Weekly Feature: (January 11, 2003)


Effective Educational Web Design
(Part Two: Building in Interactivity the Free and Easy Way)
Brad's Weekly Feature


One of the strongest features at the PALC Web site is our interactive, self-marking JavaScript quizzes. This week, for example, about 15% of the total pages viewed on our site were quizzes.

How is this interactive? Teachers will write a simple vocabulary quiz to go with a current worksheet, then alert their students to its availability. Often, a teacher can use a projector to do a practice as a whole class activity. Students can then do further practice at home or in our lab.

Other teachers have written more "generic" quizzes on various topics. Louise, for example, has written a large number of quizzes on English prepositions, which tend to give a lot of trouble to our second language learners. In addition, the site has a large number of grammar quizzes on a variety of topics. In fact, our quiz index for grammar is in our top three pages visited.

But, you might ask, "Is it difficult or time-consuming?" No, in a word, it's not! The trick is that uses software from the University of Victoria called Hot Potatoes. The software is free for educational use as long as no fee is charged for the use of the quizzes.

Writing a quiz typically takes 15 or 20 minutes of a teacher's time. Placing it on the Web takes about 10 minutes for a Webmaster, including setting up a redirect page to allow for tracking visits. Teachers give me a quiz on a diskette, but most often send it along as an email attachment. The quiz itself is in html and can be linked to from any page you desire.

Since quizzes are indexed on our site, students continue to use them for months and years after they are first written. One of the classes I teach, for example, had a text reading that had three vocabulary quizzes already available from a previous teacher's class.

This past term, we started to include cloze quizzes written by our students. Needless to say, these quizzes both inspired some of the best work students had done and were the most popular pages, too!

To find out more, visit the Hot Potatoes download page at the University of Victoria. Note that you will need to use a free unlocking code and adhere to the policy of not charging for any quizzes you produce.

Part One: It's Your Content that Counts


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