Thursday, 17 July 2008

Another Review Survey Examines How Organisations Lacerate English

I'd just completed one survey from LSN asking what I thought of their web site (dreadful) when up comes another where I could really let rip. It was mostly on the subject of how government agencies communicate and even includes a list of expressions and made-up words with an invitation to rate each one on a scale from jargon to acceptable Plain English. Great! Full marks to LSN for trying and I can't wait to see the results. Well, actually, I can and probably will because I cannot remember ever getting to see any results from government agency surveys in the education sector with one or two notable exceptions from Becta and the Regional Support Centres.

I recall one that LSDA did in an effort to see how well colleges were getting on with getting staff to use new technology. There had been one survey in 2002 or thereabouts and I was involved in analysing the data received for a repeat performance two years later. A colleague and I had to conclude that roughly half the respondents had used a 1 - 5 scale one way and the other half had it the other way round. Didn't exactly make analysis easy! I refused to make any report but my more obedient associate rattled off a couple of pages of Word A4 in wonderful edu-prose that meant he got paid but no-one in the sector was any the wiser as I never saw it mentioned again.

If you haven't already contributed to this one, though, you really must. They've included a box where you can say what expressions or terms annoy you too. Some questions are unanswerable but the jargon ones are fine. They also ask things like how often would we like e-mails advertising CPD events (I did include CPD in my list of annoying terms along with almost everything beginning e- . . )so there's a great chance to say NEVER or at least 'less than once a month' please.

The Learning & Skills Network do do a lot of good work and have some intelligent people on board but few people running the show have good current experience at the chalkface and desperately need our help. This survey might just do the trick. If you didn't get one in your e-mail then try asking at if you can participate. It's your chance to kill of some initials and jargon.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

On-line surveys and poll tools

Another selection from the really useful people at Wild Apricot:

A couple of these, their favourite, polldaddy and surveymonkey are already featured on my webtools site but the others are worth adding and will, as long as they're free and reasonably ad free, be there in time for Friday's E-fair.

1. Poll Daddy

Poll Daddy is a fairly new site that allows you to create free polls and place them on your website, blog, MySpace account or anywhere online. After you sign up for a free account, you can create a poll and customize it to fit into your site design or choose one of 14 “skins”. Results can be viewed via the poll posted on your page, or you can see all the results of multiple polls from their site after you log in. Poll Daddy is great in that it provides specific instructions on how to embed the HTML code into WordPress, Typepad, and Blogger. Results can even be accessed via an RSS reader made possible by an RSS feed generated from your poll.

2. Cool Web Toys

After you register for a free account at Cool Web Toys, you can create a poll by choosing from a web poll, an embedded web chat client, or a “CoolWebOfTheDay”. The poll can include content such as word of the day, quote of the day, or any other content. As far as poll creation goes, it’s quite easy to use. You can specify size and colors to match your site! Results appear quickly and the visitor will not leave your site unless they click on “More Info”. If they click on that link a new browser window will open up and they will be on the site with a bunch of Adsense ads.


Polls generated by are delivered via a Flash widget rather than a snippet of JavaScript or HTML code. Vizu walks you through the steps of creating a poll and gives you total control of the look and feel. To create a poll, you first create the question, then choose if it’s an “opinion” or a “prediciton” poll, then choose keywords and categories so that your poll is easy to find. You can also add pictures or links to your poll. A Vizu poll on your site is free with registration.

4. Blog Flux

Blog Flux requires that you create an account on their site before you can create a poll. Once your account is created, you can then create the poll with up to five options. You also have a choice of customizing the poll's look and feel. After the visitor clicks on the add my vote link, the results will appear in place of the poll questions on your site. A unique feature is that the voting results are mapped on Google maps. The site has other tools to enhance your blog such as a button or chicklet creator, a link logger, and a page rank checker.

5. Quimble

Creating a poll at is a simple two step process. After you are registered, log-in and choose your question and create the answers. There is no customization however. Visitors who choose to click on the “Discuss this poll at” link will be taken to their site, where they will need to register as a user before they are allowed to leave a comment about the poll.

6. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is a web-based service that allows you to create online surveys. It is quite intuitive and easy to use. You can either create from scratch or use templates. Participants can go to the site to respond, or you can create a link from your site. You can add logos and banners, change colors and customize in many different ways. Basic subscribers are limited to a total of 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. The basic subscription is free. If you want to go beyond 100 respondents, and up to 1000 and gain access to many more features, there is a cost.

7. Zoomerang

Zoomerang is a subscription-based web survey tool. With basic membership, you can conduct free surveys of up to 100 people! Effective, affordable and easy to use, Zoomerang helps organizations conduct professional-looking surveys and instantly analyze the feedback. The great thing about it is that no technical expertise is needed. You can easily create, send and start receiving survey responses in minutes. They also have some deals for non-profits and offer a version with limited-features for free.

8. Survey Gizmo

Survey Gizmo has an easy-to-use interface. It requires that you create an account on their site before you have access to the tools to create a survey. Once your account is created, you can set up an online survey with over 12 different styles of questions. You can also generate multiple reports when all of your data is inputted. Finally, the connect-to-website feature is just great, allowing you the copy HTML into your site or just provide a link. I also like that it is free for up to 250 responses per month. After that the pricing goes up to $14/month for 1,000 responses. For surveys where you're expecting thousands of responses, Survey Gizmo's pricing is very reasonable and offers very good value for money.

9. Ballot-Box

Ballot-Box allows you to create a free online poll for your website. Before you can get started, you'll need to create an account. Then you can create 15 questions for your poll and each question can have 15 answers. Poll appearance are completely customizable with real-time updates and poll results. Poll results can be made private or public and also prevents users from voting twice. You can also create up to 25 polls. If you are conducting a survey, you might want to consider creating a poll with multiple questions.

10. Easy Poll

Easy Poll is an easy and effective way to make your site more interactive. Easy-Poll has a large selection of patterns and colors for free polls. They offer two sorts of polls: a yes or no poll and a multiple-choice poll. Another great thing about this poll creation site is that you don't need additional software or IT support - everything is handled and calculated on their servers quickly and safely. Two minutes is all it takes to sign up, and you can create a poll for free.

As you can see, there are many choices for poll creation, but my favorite one would be for ease of use and customization options.

On-line quiz tools

Here is an excellent selection of new ebtools I'll be adding to the site soon, hopefully in time for the E-fair on Friday!

ClassMarker is an online quiz-making tool that's geared to both educational and business traning, with both free and paid versions. Create your quizzes, and your learners or business clients take them online. There are a few nice features that I wouldn't have expected to find in a free lightweight tool like this one -- the ability to randomize test questions, for example, and to set a time limit for taking the quiz. The ReBranded ClassMarker option that lets you add your organization's logo to your quiz page and match its colors to those of your website.

The free version of ClassMarker includes most of the basic features, while a paid version ($24.95 for educators, $49.95 business) gives the ability to add feedback to correct and incorrect answers, an option to receive the results by email, and access to a range of more detailed reports as well as enhanced product support.

Create A Quiz is a completely free web-based tool from ProProfs that allows you to create your own online quizzes and tests, or choose from a library of existing quizzes by browsing topic categories and tags. You can share any quiz by sharing the link to its webpage, or customize your quiz with your choice of logo, text and colors, and embed it on your own website with a copy-and-paste code snippet. Each quiz includes a number of automatic extras such as printable and interactive versions, discussions, and suggestions for related quizzes. At the end of each quiz, students receive their marks with question-by-question feedback that shows areas of wekaness.

Create A Quiz is a fairly feature-packed free tool, but the quiz results seem to be public, not privately reported to the administrator, and I wasn't able to find a way to keep results private. Unless there's something I've missed, it is probably best to save this tool for study groups or self-testing rather than for more sensitive assessments.

Quia claims to offer "the Web's most extensive collection of educational tools and templates" -- and that may very well be the case. You can create 16 types of educational games and activities, quizzes with eight different types of questions, surveys, and other online learning tools that provide immediate quanitfiable feedback to the student or, for questions where a variety of responses are acceptable, can give a "potential" mark pending the teacher's review. The existing large library of activities and quizzes is available for use free of charge, as are student accounts. To create your own acivities and quizzes, however, you'll need to subscribe.

Quia's educational package starts at $49 per year for an individual instructor, with group discounts available. That'll exclude it from the webtools site but you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to decide if Quia is for you.

QuizCenter from DiscoveryEducation is a free online quiz maker with plenty of features, but there's no way to test it without diving in. To get started, you'll need to register with the My Discovery site and set up a Custom Classroom. Registration, however, enable a variety of privacy settings so quiz pages can be password protected for access only by individuals or user-defined groups within the online classroom. "After a student fills out the quiz form and submits her answers, Quiz Center checks the answers against your answer key, determines which answers are correct, and tallies the total score. Within seconds it produces a page that shows the results or, if you prefer, e-mails the results to you."

This is a very good free service, no question. My largest quibble is that I found the site navigation less than intuitive -- stray off the QuizCenter path and it's not always easy to find your way back there from the pages that promote DiscoveryEducation's other (commercial) products. To save time, you might want to bookmark.

QuizStar from lets you create unlimited quizzes in multiple formats and different languages, and to include multimedia files as well as images. Set start and end times, privacy levels, and whether you want to show the correct answers when students review the quiz after taking it. Quizzes are graded automatically, and the results can be reported by class, student, question, etc. You can choose to save the reports online, print them, or download as an Excel file. For ease of use, flexibility, and privacy, educators could do worse than give this tool a test drive, though it might be less useful to other organizations with a more public agenda.

QuizStar offers a 60-day free trial, but the service itself requires a subscription so it is only really eligible for inclusion if you can fir what you want to do in those couple of months! Still, worth a try!

This information has been provided by Wild Apricot, a non-profit organsational web site tool that is featured on the webtools site.