Last week I wrote a review about Zoho writer and it’s many, many features. While exploring the whole Zoho suite I came across Zoho challenge. What is it? Well, it is a very effective, free test maker online. In other words it is a love affair waiting for teachers (IT or otherwise). Zoho Challenge is a great alternative to grading which has all sorts of pluses to it, but to get to hot and heavy details you’re going to have read on past the break. Come on, you know you want to.
Zoho Challenge let’s you quickly, easily, and effectively make online tests for free! All you need to do is sign up with Zoho and you will get one test bank, storage up to 100 mb and 100 people can take the test. Not bad huh? All that for free is pretty darn good. Earlier I wrote a post about starQuiz, the software that lets you do the same thing, but has a few more features for $40. If you’re not willing to plop down that money, then Zoho is probably your next best alternative.
Once you’ve signed up and are signed up you should see the link to create a new test. Once you are starting to enter into questions here are your options: multiple choice, true false, fill up the blanks (that is not a typo), and descriptive answer (short answer/essay). Now the first three you give answers, and you can have Zoho challenge try and grade the descriptive answer, but I think the student’s answer needs to be pretty close to what you put in as the answer. I gave it a try and Zoho had some trouble, but that is OK you can manually evaluate it yourself. Another advantage is that you can add images or video to certain questions. This is nice because sometimes a description just won’t cut it.
A note about how your questions are stored. They all go into the question bank and with the free account, you only get one test bank, so if you make four tests, all the questions are stored in one test bank. It’s not a big deal, but if you plan on using the same tests year after year, it may get a little cumbersome, but you do have paid options that offer you more (click here to see their pricing options).
Making the tests is easy and a time saver, but is it easy to give the test? The answer is yes. You can create a list of students who you would like to give the test to, or you can just point them in the direction of the URL and they can take the test on any browser. Heck, if you have a website (some blogs offer this option as well), you can embed the test right into it. If you use wordpress.com (as I do), then this is not an option. Handy, fast, effective. The students see the entire test and you can put certain restrictions on the test such as when it can be taken, is it timed, and a few others. Take a look at what a test looks like below.
This is all good and dandy and with the exception of saving some paper and a little bit of time, it’s not a huge advantage of making your own tests. So what makes it worth while? What makes it pretty darn good? Well, the evaluating is what makes it so good. For most questions, when the test is done, you will get the results right away and you can even see a breakdown of how each individual answered to see what questions were problematic, but if it gives you a nice list of who passed, with what percentage and you can even view a more detailed report. Check out the images below.
In other words, you get test results back so quickly, that you actually have time to go and find what areas need to be worked on, what students need some extra attention, and if there was a problem with the assessment itself. Basically, it gives you time to actually take in the data and make decisions and changes on the spot. Now, I know there are people out there who frown upon these types of tests (multiple choice, true/false), but it does not mean they cannot be helpful. I use tests like these (on ocassion) to do pre-assessment before a unit. It gives me an idea of what prior knowledge the class has using the program, areas that can be quickly gone over or skipped altogether and who are my stronger students are. It is definitely very helpful in that sense. Also, it is a nice way for students to take a practice test and get real feedback in real time.
The downside I found to Zoho challenge, is that it is totally online. I did not see an option to print out a test or answer key at all. It might be buried in there, but I couldn’t find it. Also, since it is totally online, if you work at a place where computers are scarce, or if students don’t have access to one on a regular basis, then Zoho Challenge may not be the answer you’re looking for. To sum it up, if you have the resources available, and if you make tests on your word processing program and find yourself pulling your hair out at times, then Zoho challenge is probably your answer.
To experience a quick preview of a test made in Zoho Challenge, click on the link and take the challenge . . . if you can! Sample Test