often, as educators, we get swept up in the latest big thing, something
that is promised to revolutionize the delivery and content of
education, but instead costs a lot and delivers too little.
educational software developers Quizam
modest. Their self-named software does just one thing, but it does it
well, at a reasonably affordable cost.
As the name suggests,
Quizam, now in a recently-released version 2.0 is a ‘computer-based
assessment tool’. Teachers (or even students) use it to create a bank
of multiple choice questions on virtually any topic; the software then
generates a series of tests and allows a student to use a computer to
take them, providing near-instant feedback of strengths and weaknesses.
tests can be used as study tools or as assessment instruments; test
versions are randomized, so each one generated is different.
multiple choice tests are best used where students are being asked to
display knowledge of discreet facts or simple processes; Quizam makes
no claims of being a replacement for other sorts of assessment, not
that multiple choice tests can or should be used as the only basis of
assessment. And of course, any test bank is only is good as the set of
sample questions and possible answers.
Quizam ships with a set
of pre-made multiple choice tests for a variety of subject areas (in
both English and French) at a variety of grade levels. More are
available online at: http://www.quizam.com/library.php
reasonably straightforward to edit one of these existing quizzes or a
previously-saved one or to create a new quiz from scratch. The new
version 2 allows quiz-creators to include images and sounds as part of
their questions. As well, quizzes can be printed out, or can be run in
a flash card mode as a study tool.
Quizam is available in
Windows (Windows 95 or better, Pentium 166 with 32 MB) and Mac OS X (G4
or better) versions; a Linux version is being piloted at Vancouver’s
Eric Hamber Secondary. In addition, the software is being used in a
variety of education settings around BC, including as part of Rutland
Middle School’s (Kelowna) grade 7 and 8 Laptop Pilot Program. It’s
priced at $39.99; a 30-day free trial is available, and students can
download Quizam for free through December 30, 2006.
completely different note, many CUE members may be wondering what
happened to Yahooligans!.
Yahooligans!, a Yahoo!
project, started up
way back in 1996, as one of the first search engines for kids.
the original Yahoo!, it combined elements of search engine with a
directory- if you weren’t sure what you were searching for, you could
click on a link for Social Studies, then one for History, another for
Ancient Civilizations and Cultures, and then choose between Africa, the
Americas, China, Egypt, Greece, and more, before finally getting a page
And while searching for say, Haida, on Google
over 4 million hits, a similar search on Yahooligans! got about two
dozen or so. And in this case, less was definitely more: this handful
of hits had been checked by real human beings as being on-topic and
readable by middle-grade kids. Yahooligans! wasn’t perfect; by about
grade 7, it lacked the depth of information needed by students. But for
earlier grades or for students still learning English, it was a great
tool. Useful enough that I made it the browser home page throughout the
elementary school where I teach.
This November, however,
Yahooligans did not respond for a couple of days. And when it did come
back up, everything had changed. Instead of a school and kid-friendly
search engine, there was “Yahoo! Kids Beta”, a colourful multimedia
portal promising games, music, movies, jokes, sports, TV, and oh yeah,
a ‘study zone’. But even on the study zone, what I’m forced to call
‘Yahooligans! Classic’ was nowhere to be found.
Yahoo!, expressing my dismay over the loss of this valuable education
tool. Yahoo!’s Paul Marcum
replied, saying he apologized “for the
disruption” which, he said, was due to a need to “prioritize the
relaunch of its content according to its use… In coming weeks,” he
promised, “we will restore most of the content that you and your
students found so useful as well as many exciting new features.”
hope so; I’ve set my elementary school’s browsers to Google. While my
students feel much more adult, already I’ve seen much more confusion,
as they get overwhelmed with what used to be simple searches for
kid-friendly information online.
I’ve checked out a couple of
other search sites aimed at school children: Ask.com’s www.askforkids.com
Neither really worked for me;
searching for Haida on each, Askforkids offered a choice between 10
simplistic links from FactMonster
or 10 overly erudite links from Federal
Education Resources. Zoo.com was better, with 61 links, that
started out reasonably readable and on-topic, but fairly quickly
started including jewelers and other sales links. Kids get barraged
with enough advertising; they shouldn’t have to get it while searching
for information at school.
I hope Yahoo! gets the Yahooligans!
back online as they’re promising. In the meantime, I welcome any other
school and kid-friendly search suggestions.
Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer
can be reached at