Over the past several months, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to devote part of my working hours to learning to use Adobe Flash (CS4). Because I was a complete beginner, I worked through some basic Lynda.com tutorials about Flash and ActionScript 3.0 before striking out on my own. I set the following four goals for my output.
- Reproduce the functionality of the quiz template that came with older (CS 3) versions of Flash. This template allows you to make drag-and-drop, multiple-choice (single- and multiple-answer), short-answer (text input), and true-or-false questions.
- Improve upon the pedagogical value of the functionality by allowing more individualized feedback. For example, if the user chose the wrong answer in a multiple choice question, I wanted to be able to give feedback that explained why that answer was wrong. My inspiration for this came from the Hot Potatoes suite.
- Make the application accessible to instructors. This means that instructors shouldn’t need to know how to use Flash or even own a copy of Adobe Flash to be able to create a quiz and customize its appearance. I achieved this by linking all text, colors, and images to an XML file, which can be edited using any text editor.
- Make the application open and freely available. This was easy to accomplish thanks to the open-mindedness of my boss, Melissa, who is a fellow supporter of open source. The way she saw the situation, our group (the Distance Course Design & Consulting Group, aka DCDC) is funded by a federal grant – so the work that we produce should be shared with the taxpayers who ultimately fund the grant. (Yes! How true!) The quiz-maker application is published under the BSD, and the accompanying instructions are published under a Creative Commons license (BY/NC/SA).
I was able to accomplish all four of these goals! So, here is the DCDC Flash Quiz Maker as a .zip file. The file includes instructions on how to use it, which I hope are clear. Please comment below on how the application and the instructions could be improved! Or email me, or send me a tweet.
- I envision this as an application to create teaching/learning tools, rather than assessing knowledge. That is why a range of individualized feedback is possible. This individualized feedback means that answers are not necessarily 100% right or wrong. This fact, combined with controls that allow the user to try a given question an unlimited number of times and freely move back and forth among the questions, means that a final score would be meaningless. So, no score can be recorded or reported to the user or anyone else.
- Bugs are guaranteed! I tested this, of course, and everything seems to work fine for me. But this is my first attempt at programming, and I probably didn’t anticipate what YOU are about to do with it. Please let me know about the problems you run into so that I can fix them. Or even better, send me a new version that includes the fixes and improvements you’ve made. That’s one of the great things about open source, right?