Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Online Testing With Your Chromebooks

I know, the goal of writing this blog is to cover Chromebook covers, but I really have to throw this out there to anyone who teaches and wants to use Chromebooks to quiz students. I had two free methods that worked fairly well, and my district also bought a disaster of a program that did not. I know more exist than the two that I used, but any teacher knows that testing too many testing programs is a waste of time.


I started out using Quizstar back in 2001. It was free, fairly easy, and fast once the quizzes were written and students signed up. However, getting everyone signed up was a task. And if anyone ever hit the "Back" button, end of quiz. And students learned how to cheat. And then it wasn't free for a few years. Once it was free again, I learned that it was a great testing and studying tool, even if there was some chance of cheating.

The way that I ended up using Quizstar was to allow two attempts. Students got to see their answers AFTER the second attempt. Therefore, students who did fairly well left it alone. For those who took it twice, I told them I'd keep the highest score. And then they'd get the answers to study for any future test. Now, after that second attempt is when cheating could occur, especially since I treated each quiz as something that could be done at any time. The good news for teachers is that each quiz gets a time stamp, so if one student takes a quiz at 6:05pm for the second time, and then a friend of that first student takes the quiz at 6:10pm and gets 100%, there's your cheating. Most students aren't bright enough to wait before cheating, so then you just bust them both if you want. Or don't and call it collaborative learning, especially if you have in-class assessments worth more.

What I liked about Quizstar is that I could show the students the Bell Curve and go over the answers in class using a projector. And I got daily emails of updated scores (most of the time), which meant less time for me to hunt down missing quizzes. However, if I ever wanted to make a hard copy of the quizzes, it was a pain to convert the format into anything usable.

Quizstar Grade: B+

Google Forms with Flubaroo

I started using this one in 2012. Pretty lame considering Google wanted to break into education. Too much time on the front end and back end. Too much teacher responsibility. Better than Quizstar at preventiung cheating, I suppose, and real-time updating of submissions was kind of nice. But really, this was a decade after Quizstar and backed by Google, so VERY disappointing. I was even more disappointed when my wife started teaching again in 2016 and the Google lady at her school said there was this great tool called Flubaroo to use with Google Classroom.

The best way to do multiple choice using Flubaroo was to create a template to be used again and again. A,B,C,D. The problem was that then you needed a separate window for questions and answers. But it was much easier to analyze answers when they were single letters rather than the whole answer.

Google and Flubaroo Grade: C-

Some Other Expensive Program

The School District of Menomonee Falls, in its finite wisdom, purchased an online testing system and had me test it out. I don't remember the name of it, but I think it cost over $10,000 a year. It was terrible. Worse than Google, even. But it allowed the district to track individual students of specific teachers over many years in order to hold those teachers more accountable. And questions could be tied (by hand) to specific standards, too. There were no graphs that could be made like with the other two options I'd used, and the test environment felt like something out of the 90s. I said it was a waste of money because it would have taken me hours to add each quiz that I'd already spent hours creating and implementing on the other two quiz systems.

No doubt, your school district will be approached by similar companies. At least test out Quizstar and Flubaroo first, since those are free and better than most.

Most other programs Grade: F


I saw this one online, signed up, got frustrated, and ended my relationship. Maybe it can do more now, but I saw it as more of a review tool, which meant a lot of extra time for me to add online reviews.

Quizlet Grade: D

Plugins for Joomla or Wordpress

I never found a good plugin for Joomla. Maybe Wordpress has something. The main problem here is that you'd have to be able to sign all the students up for your teacher page. That's redundant if all teachers use it, whereas students in Quizstar or that have Google accounts can use the first two options.

Plugins Grade: F


I have always been intrigued by Moodle. I think it's not terribly user-friendly for teachers, which is probably why I've seen as many districts abandon it as adopt it. I never really got into wanting to waste hours setting up classes and assignments I'd already created elsewhere, but if your school district is forcing this on you, have fun.

Moodle Grade: D


If you work for a company that sells a tool better than good-old Quizstar, write a comment about it below. For now, that's still my recommendation. But don't tell us something is better than Quizstar without trying it out first. My wish would be for Google to partner with Quizstar, implement a few improvements, and then make it part of Google Classroom. But most of my Google wishes fall on deaf ears

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