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To Do or Not To Do … Should an Educator Blog?

960692_93021290.jpgTo blog…or not to blog?  As the title suggests it poses quite the perplexing question.  After all, as educators our blogs have the potential to both affect our students as well as offer them a type of behind the scenes glimpse into our minds.

But is that a good thing?

Do we really want to open ourselves up to that type of scrutiny and, in doing so, invite the dialogue that comes hand-in-hand with any type of public forum?

I think so.

In fact, I think that being an educator makes the reasons to blog more important, more interesting and even more compelling.  It allows us to express ideas and open conversations that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.  It allows us to share our voice.  Now, let’s talk about why we should…..

Reasons Educators Should Blog:


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Great Ways to Prevent Cheating on Online Quizzes

imgres.jpgDelivering Online Quizzes is becoming more and more common, so here are 5 great ways to help prevent cheating and ensure the user answers are their own.

Shuffle the Question Order

This is a no-brain-er. By doing this, you make sure that passing the quiz is not a simple list of letters (like 1-a, 2-c, 3-b, 4-b, etc). Most quiz authoring software (including our Weblearning E-Learning System as well as our Online Quiz Maker System) enable you to do this.


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Importing Questions using the Import Utility

One of the most frequently addressed questions we come across is on the topic of importing questions into our Quiz/Test software and Weblearning application.  More often than not, the trouble lies within the formatting for the text file itself.  In this article, I’m going to show you how to properly format your questions and load them into the Import Utility so that they can easily be imported into our software.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that the Import Utility only allows you to import Multiple Choice/Response style questions. Any other types of questions (Fill-in-the-Blank, Essay, Pick List, etc.) will need to be added in manually.

The first step is to launch the Import Utility itself. Depending on the type/version of the software your using the process for doing this may vary. In most cases, you can launch the Import Utility by going to the Questions area of the quiz/test you are currently working on and locating the Import link, bringing up the Import Wizard.

On the first step of the Import Wizard, where you would normally select the .txt file you would like to import questions from, there is a link that reads Launch the Import Utility (click here).

In some cases, you can launch the Import Utility by going to the Tools menu at the top and selecting Question Import Utility. In Weblearning, you can launch the import utility by following the instructions in the Import section of the Questions & Slides tab.


This will launch the Import Utility, which allows you to open the text file containing the questions you would like to import, and format the text file into the proper format for importing.


Each question that you import should follow the 11-line import format. The first line must contain the question text, followed by a Hard Return, then a blank line (if your question or answer text contains line feeds/carriage returns, replace then with the following markup prior to importing:  [br] ). The next 5 lines are answers A-B-C-D-E, each followed by a Hard Return.  If a question has less that 5 answers, enter a blank line (Hard Return) for each missing answer. After the 5 answers, another blank line should follow. Next, the explanation should follow, then followed by a hard return, and then 2 blank lines.

Each question immediately follows the previous question. Here is the format (the prefixed numbers are there for example only):


So let’s assume I already have a text file with a few of my questions, answers, and explanations already saved and I would like to import those questions. My text file will more than likely look something like this:


First, I’ll need to open my file using the Import Utilty. To do this,  select File > Open Existing Text File from the top menu and then browse your hard drive until you find the .txt file you would like to import. When I open my text file in the Import Utility for the first time, it’s going to look like this:


As you can see, the questions from my text file do not match the 11-line import format. To verify that the lines are off or to view what types of errors I may have in my text file, I can click the Preview tab at the top to get  a question by question analysis of exactly what (and more importantly how) questions will be imported.


As you can see I have multiple errors in the layout of my .txt file, but just in case if I couldn’t tell immediately, the Import Utility will notify me with a popup alerting me to any glaring errors it might detect.  In my case. here are the errors:

First and foremost, both of my questions are using more than one line, when they should only be using one line.  In my second question, the explanation is also using more than one line when it should be only using one line. Also in the second question, I only have four answers (which is OK) but I have not left a blank line where the 5th answer would normally be. In fact, I’m missing a second blank line after both explanations as well. All of these things together are causing my question errrors.

For instance, the importer is looking for the first choice on my first question on line 5. However, it’s finding the last word of my question instead. After I go back and correct the formatting (moving all question text to one line, making sure I have the proper number of blank lines including blank lines for items I won’t be using, and making sure my explanations are only on one line) my format will look like this:


As you can see I have corrected all my errors, and now the data on the right (in white) lines up correctly with a blue rows to the left.  From this view it looks as though I’ve managed to remove all the errors in formatting. However, just to make certain I’ll click on the Preview tab again to see what errors might be found:


This time around, I did not recieve any popups notifying me of any errors, and I only see one warning sign.  In this case, the warning sign is alerting me that I have not entered any text for the 5th answer of my second question – which I did intentionally so it appears all is well.

The last thing I’ll need to do is denote which answer is actually the correct answer. To mark an answer as correct, I’m going to prefix it with [*]. Once I return to the software and actually import my formatted text file, that’s the prefix I will use to denote the correct answer in the Import Wizard. If my question has more than one correct answer (in the case of a Multiple Response style question), I only need to prefix all of the correct answers with [*]. Once I’ve prefixed my answers, my Import Utility screen will look like this:

Note: This step can be skipped, however if no prefix is found the Import Wizard will automatically use the first answer as the correct answer.


Now that my text file is in the correct format, it’s time to save my text file again so that it may be used by the Import Wizard. To do this,  select File > Save This File to Disk from the menu at the top and select the location and filename where you would like to save your formatted text file.


Once my .txt file is saved, I’m ready to return to the software and follow the steps of the Import Wizard, using my newly formatted text file to easily import questions, answers, and explanations directly into the software.

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Using Electronic Prints to Create Quiz Variations

Easy Quiz Maker 9 has changed the way it handles printed quizzes. In previous versions of the software, each time you created a Printed Quiz, you were actually creating a finished document that could be printed or opened in Microsoft Word.  By publishing another Printed Quiz with the same set of questions you could create another quiz based on that same set of questions, but it required knowing exactly which questions from your Question Bank were used when creating that first quiz.  Easy Quiz Maker 9 has made it easy to create new Printed Quizzes based off the same question selection rules used by an existing quiz.

This comes particularly useful if you wanted to create variations on the same quiz. If you’re using Printed Quizzes, chances are you’re delivering your quizzes in a classroom enviroment.  You want each student to have to answer the same exact set of questions, but perhaps you don’t want two students who are sitting next to one-another to have the same exact quiz in the same exact order. That’s where Quiz Variations come into play. You can easily create one, two, or more versions of a Printed Quiz using the same exact questions, however have each version of the quiz present those questions in a different order.


To get started, go into one of your Quiz Projects and then click on the Printed Quizzes tab (this tutorial assumes that you already have a Quiz Project created and have added questions to it). The first thing we’re going to do is create a Printed Quiz that we can consider as a “base” quiz – you can think of the this as the first variation of the quiz. To do this, click the New Print button from the toolbar.


After you’ve clicked the New Print button, you’ll be asked to enter a Short Description (for mine I’m going to put Sample Variation 1)After you’ve entered the quiz description and clicked the Next button, you’ll be presented with the question selection screen. Here you can choose to select all questions from your question bank, just the currently selected questions, questions based on their question data, or questions based on their category. For my quiz, I’m going to choose to add 5 questions from each of my two categories, and for those questions to appear shuffled in my printed quiz.


Once you’ve finished configuring how I would like to select questions,  click the Publish button to finish creating this new quiz. The new quiz will appear as an icon with the rest of your Printed Quizzes.


Now that we’ve created the first of our quiz variations, it’s now time to create a second quiz that will use the same questions as the first quiz only presented in a different order. Once again I’m going to click on the New Print button in the toolbar to create another Printed Quiz. This time when it asks me for a Short Description I’m going to enter Sample Variation 2, indicating to me this is another variation on the same quiz. After entering my description and clicking the Next button I’ll be brought to the question selection screen once again.


This time however I’m going to select to Use Another Quiz’s Questions and from the dropdown box select the name of the quiz that I would like to draw questions from. When selecting the quiz, you’re given the option to either use exact questions or  use same selection script. If you choose to use the exact questions, you will get exactly the same questions as you used when creating the original quiz. If you choose to use the same selection script, the quiz you are creating here will use the same question selection rules as the first quiz (if I was to choose this here, I would create another quiz that pulls 5 random questions from each of my categories but not necessarily the same questions).

In my case I want to use the same exact questions, so I’m going to select Sample Variation 1 (use exact questions). I’m also going to make sure I leave the Shuffle Question Order box checked to make sure that the question order gets shuffled.  Once you’ve selected how you want this variation to work, click the Publish button to create the new quiz.


Now in my Printed Quizzes tab I’ll see both quizzes I’ve created. Even though they both use the same exact question, the order that those questions are presented are different between the two quizzes. If I wanted to create a third quiz, I’d follow the same steps I used to create the second one. Now when you distribute these quizzes to your students, you can have three different quizzes on the same subject matter – each with there own answer key.

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Color Tagging Quizzes in Easy Quiz Maker

Easy Quiz Maker 9 has added a new level of tagging and sorting both your printed and web quizzes to make organizing your quiz projects that much easier. There are five different color tags available to use – Blue, Green, Red, White (the default), and Yellow.


To get started using the color tagging feature, we’ll assume you already have a quiz project set up and have a created a few Printed Quizzes.  To tag a quiz as a certain color, click on the icon for the quiz you would like to tag (highlighting it), then click on the Set Color icon for the toolbar at the top. When you click on the Set Color, you’ll be presented with the 5 different color options available to you. Simply select on of those colors from the list.


By selecting Red from the list above, this will tag my quiz as red. Once I’ve tagged my quiz as a certain color, the icon of that quiz will change to reflect the color that it has been tagged. Assuming that I go through and tag a few other of my quizzes different colors, my Printed Quiz screen might look something like this:


As you can see from the picture above, I’ve tagged two of my quizzes red, one of my quizzes yellow, one of my quizzes blue, and left the quiz as the default white.  Now that I have my quizzes tagged in the appropriate colors, I can easily filter the quizzes displayed to me using the color options to the right of the Listing Filter.  This can become particularly useful if you have many quizzes that you needed to easily sort. In my case, I might have decided that red quizzes are on the subject of history, while yellow quizzes are on the subject on math.

If I only wanted to display history quizzes (in my case red quizzes) – I’d simply uncheck the boxes next to each of the colors that I did not want to display, while leaving the color(s) I want to display checked.


This tells Easy Quiz Maker to only display quizzes that have been tagged red, so my Printed Quiz screen will now only display 2 results so that it looks like this:


I can also set it to display multiple quiz colors at the same time. For instance, if I wanted to display history and math quizzes (red and yellow), I would check the boxes next to both red and yellow at the top while leaving the other colors unchecked.


This would change my display to show both the red and yellow tagged quizzes, making it look like this:


Color Tagging can be used on both Printed and Web quizzes.

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Emailing a Web Quiz

Easy Quiz Maker 9 makes it very easy to email a quiz to a recipient (or multiple recipients).

First, a checklist of what you will need

1. Easy Quiz Maker 9
2. Microsoft Outlook (2000 or better)

Assuming you have already created a web quiz inside of Easy Quiz Maker, the next step is to highlight the web quiz you want to email, and then click the EMAIL button on the ribbon toolbar (shown below):


This will bring up the email form:


You will notice that I ..

1. entered multiple recipients in the ‘to’ field — which can be done by using a semicolon in between each recipient.
2. I Blind Carbon-Copied (BCC) myself so I will receive the same email.
3. I changed the default email message (which by the way, now becomes the default message until I change it again).

Here is the email I received:


As you can see, the quiz is sent as an attachment (quiz.htm).

Now, when sending a quiz via email, there are a few things worth knowing:

1. The emailed quiz cannot contain any images ~ it it does, the images do not get sent with the quiz
2. The recipient must be able to receive attachments

If you are wondering if you can collect the responses/scores of the quiz, the answer is YES, as long as you have configured the quiz to use the Atrixware QMS to receive the student responses.

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