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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 Atrixware Quiz Management Service with Flash Quiz Maker

Atrixware Quiz Management Service is an easy online solution for emailing, exporting, viewing, and storing online quiz results published from our Quiz Publishing Software.  This article is going to show you how to publish a quiz using Atrixware Flash Quiz Maker that utilizes the Quiz Management Service.
To begin, I’m going to start Flash Quiz Maker and from the Quiz Development tab select the quiz I would like to publish to the Web.  With my quiz selected, I’m going to click the Publish to Flash button in the Task Panel.


This will open the Publish to Flash window.  The first tab I am brought to is the General tab, where you can enter a title for the quiz, configure what is displayed to the student, set the passing score, or set a time limit.  For this tutorial, the only thing I am going to change in the Passing Score, by selecting the drop-down box and setting the score to 65.


The next tab I want to work with is the Emails tab, where I can configure the layout and content of the results that are going to be emailed to me and stored in the Quiz Management Service.  When I click on the Emails tab, I am presented with two additional tabs, the PASS Email tab and the FAIL Email tab.  The PASS Email tab are the results that sent if the student passes the quiz, while the FAIL Email tab are the results sent if the student fails the quiz.

I can edit my results to display the information that I find relevant to me.  By default, the result email for the PASS Email tab displays a category report (a score per category breakdown) and the questions missed.  Using placeholders, it is possible to show the quiz date, title, a report of all questions, and more.  To see what placeholders are available and what they do, click the Learn About Placeholders button.


Working in the PASS Email tab, I can edit the format of the results by using the text-editor buttons located on the bottom.

I am given the option to (from left to right):

  • Set the Font Style
  • Set the Font Size
  • Bold, Italic, or Underline
  • Set the Font Color
  • Align the Text
  • Set the Text as a Bulleted List Item

I can set some text as a hyperlink by selecting the text and entering a hyperlink in the field below the Font Style selection.  There are also two buttons on the right hand side, which allow you to edit the HTML source and Check Spelling.

Once I’ve finished setting up my reports, I’m going to move over to the Publish Format tab.  The two options that will allow my quiz to access the Quiz Management Service is the Any Web Server option under the Web Server tab and the CD-Rom / Executable option under the CD or Local tab.

To publish my quiz so that students can take it online via a URL link, I would choose the Any Web Server option.  To publish my quiz so that I can distribute it via CD-Rom, download, or email attachment, I would select the CD-Rom / Executable option.

After I’ve chosen how I would like to publish my quiz, I’m going to check the Email Results to box at the bottom and enter my email address.  I’m also going to check both boxes for Ask for user’s name and Ask for user’s email address so that they will both be entered into the Quiz Management Service.

NOTE: If you choose to not ask a student for their email address, their email will appear in the Quiz Management Service as the student’s name at their ip address. (i.e. student@  You can then edit the students email from within the Quiz Management Service.


I’ll click the Publish button and be taken to the Published Quizzes tab with the quiz I just created.  Once a student has completed my quiz, I can click on the Quiz Management tab and login to the Quiz Management Service using the email address I chose to have my results sent to.  By default, the username and password for the Quiz Management Service is the email address I entered when publishing my quiz.

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How do I create a Quiz for the web using Flash Quiz Maker?

Atrixware Flash Quiz Maker 2009 is a powerful tool for making online quizzes quickly and easily.  With Flash Quiz Maker you publish quizzes to be used on your Basic HTML website, your ASP website, or your PHP website. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how easy it is to publish any one of these quizzes for you to place on your exisiting website.

To begin, we want to start on the Quiz Development screen where we will highlight one of our quizzes.  To publish the Quiz, we can either right click on the icon for our quiz and select Publish for Flash from the menu or you can click Publish to Flash from the Task Panel on the right hand side.


This will bring up the Publish to Flash screen.  The Publish to Flash area is loaded with options wher you can configure the functionality, look, and feel of your Quiz, but for the purposes of this article we’re going to leave everything as is and just focus on the portion of the Publish Format tab that pertains to web Quizzes.  Click the tab that reads Publish Format all the way on the right hand side.


On the Publish Format screen you’ll see two more tabs appear, the Web Server tab and the Local or CD-Rom tab.  If you wanted to publish a Quiz that you could use locally on your hard drive or network or publish a Quiz you could distribute via CD-Rom / Standalone download, you would work in the Local or CD-Rom tab.  Since we want to publish to the web, we’re going to work in the Web Server tab.


Flash Quiz Maker gives you three different options for publishing Quizzes to a Web Server, Basic Server (HTML), PHP Server,  and ASP Server.

Basic Server: Using the Basic Server option publishes the Flash Quiz to be used as an HTML file.  Note that with this option, if you select to have the results of the Quiz emailed to you the Quiz will use the server to send the email report, which may incur a nominal fee.

To get students to this quiz you simply need to give them the URL of the Quiz on your webserver. For example if the name of your server was and you uploaded the quiz to a folder named samplequiz, then the address you would give for this Quiz would be

PHP Server: Using the PHP Server option publishes the Flash Quiz to be used on your PHP enabled server (typically linux/unix based servers).  Note that with both the PHP Server and ASP Server options, if you select to have the results on the Quiz emailed to you it the Quiz will use your servers to generate the email report, meaning you do not have to worry about incurring any additional fees.

To get students to this quiz you simply need to give them the URL of the Quiz on your webserver. For example if the name of your server was and you uploaded the quiz to a folder named samplequiz, then the address you would give for this Quiz would be

ASP Server: Using the ASP Server option publishes the Flash Quiz to be used on your ASP enabled server (typically Microsoft / IIS based servers).  A nice feature of both the ASP Server and PHP Server Quizzes is that if you yourself or someone you know has any knowledge of either the ASP or PHP programming language, the generated script can be modified to add results to a database, track internet users that have taken the Quiz, and much much more.

Once you have selected the type of Web Server quiz you would like to create and you click the Publish button in the bottom-right corner of the screen, Flash Quiz Maker will automatically generate the Quiz and files you need to place on your server.  Once the quiz has been published, a screen will appear featuring the quiz that you just created, along with a window with some instructions on how to get the Quiz online.


The section that is most important here is the How to Get This Quiz On To Your Web Server section.  For all three types of web server quizzes the results here are basically the same.  The first step is, using either your hosting control panel, a program like Dreamweaver, or an FTP program, create a new folder on your webserver where you would like to hold the quiz.

The second step is to either click the View Files to Distibute link that appears right in the instructions or to click the View Files to Distribute option in the Task Panel on the right hand side. This is will open up a Windows Explorer folder containing all the files that you want to upload to your Web Server.


The final step is to, again using your hosting control panel, a program such as Dreamweaver, or (most likely) a FTP program, upload all the files and subfolders that you see in the Windows Explorer folder to the folder you created on your Web Server in the first step.

Now that you’ve place your quiz files online, you simply need to direct the students to the URL of the Quiz using the instructions I mentioned earlier in the tutorial or by following the instructions entitled How to Get Your Students to The Quiz that are displayed when you select any of  your Publishes Quizzes from within Flash Quiz Maker.

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Introducing Flash Quiz Maker

Atrixware Flash Quiz Maker 2009 is designed to let you create a variety of different kinds of Flash Quizzes. It will be released in October of 2008 (it’s in beta testing as I write this — if you are interested in participating, please email me at anthony at


It shares the same authoring interface as our other quiz maker products (like Easy Quiz Maker, Online Quiz Maker, and Test Pro Developer), and shares a common import/export format for multiple-choice questions (so you can, for example, use your questions across all products).

Just as a teaser (and a sneak peek), I have published off a few example flash quizzes. Note that these operate on a web server, although Atrixware Flash Quiz Maker 2009 can produce CD-Rom quizzes as well.

Example 1: Study Mode
This example flash quiz lets you pick the categories of questions you want to view – very similar to the way you can from a test created with Test Pro Developer (although in this case, its being viewed online). It also has some other ‘study mode’ features like Test Pro Developer tests, such as a ‘show answer’ button, ‘show reference’, and more. Click Here to View Example 1 Quiz

Example 2: Simulation Mode
This example flash quiz uses question pooling — it randomly picks 3 questions (from a question pool of 5 in this case).  It has the ‘study mode’ functions disabled (and operates more like a real quiz). It is also configured to ask you for your name and email before you begin. Aah – and it also uses a different ‘skin’ (which you have full control over by the way). Click Here to View Example 2 Quiz

Look for news on the release date in October 2008, and once again, if you are interested in participating in the beta, please email me at anthony at

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