Tools for Teachers

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I am starting a new series of blog entries aimed at providing reviews for some of my favorite teacher technology tools.  Hopefully it will be useful to others of my profession.  If nothing else, it might save you some time by showing you what you don’t want to use.

Tonight our first entry will concern a tool that I have used for several years now to create online content and evaluations. Quia.com is a web site that allows the user to import class rosters, build games, activities, and quizzes, and then compile the results into a grade book.  Students are provided a unique user name and password and must log in for the activities to be credited to them.  This is a paid application that I cover out of my own pocket.  The cost is only about $40 per year.  It is well worth the price.  Using this site it is possible to create engaging review games like Hangman, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”, virtual flash cards, Battleship, Concentration, and many others.  The games are all content based and provide and thorough and engaging review.  It is also possible to create online quizzes and formal evaluations involving true/false, multiple choice, matching, short answer, and essay questions.  The quizzes and activities with absolute answers (eg. multiple choice or matching questions) grade themselves.  The written questions (eg. short answer or essay) may then be graded by the instructor.  It is possible to embed video, PowerPoint, Flash, and other interactive content directly into the activities to provide a guided learning environment.  For all you flippers out there, this is an excellent tool to provide guided instruction outside of the classroom.  Images, sounds, and other files may be embedded into the activities as instructional material or feedback.

There is an extensive online community to provide support and ideas for the new user.  It is possible to share activities between instructors so if you need inspiration for building a lesson, something is always available and people are willing to help.  Questions may be imported via text files and stored as question banks for year to year continuity.  Every part of the quiz or activity is HTML and LaTex enabled to add a personal touch or emphasis to the questions.  Grading of the questions that require review is simple and different point values may be assigned to each question to provide emphasis.  Students may work the assignments multiple times or be limited to one time only for testing purposes.  Of all the online assignment environments I have used, this is the most complete and the easiest to get started and become adept at.

Free evaluation memberships are available and the cost for a full membership is very reasonable.  I have used quia.com for the past 4 years and I will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.  It has allowed me to convert to an almost completely paperless classroom environment, and is well worth the time to evaluate.  I would highly recommend this site to any educator in almost any grade level.  High school students are engaged by the more complex games and younger students will find activities to match their level of development.  All in all, and excellent educational tool.

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