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Monday, November 12, 2012

ProProfs: the Ideal Quiz Maker?

ProProfs Quizmaker & Real English® Videos
How Students Learn English on Our Sites

In order to ensure that Real English® videos are truly useful for learners, we have implemented "Interactive Lessons", i.e., collections of quizzes for our entire library of videos.

And in order to ensure that the learning experience is user-friendly for all levels of students, we break up each video into small parts for each quiz, in our case this means one, or sometimes 2 street interviews per quiz. In this way, students do not have to search or navigate back and forth to the relevant part of the video for compleing the quiz at hand.

This quiz strategy works well, which brings us to an even more important question: which tool is best for making quizzes for our videos?

We put a lot of thought and research into this question, and installed trials of 6 different quiz programs before making our choice. Our requirements for a quiz maker included the following criteria:

1 - The program must provide us with quiz output which works on both mobile devices such as the iPhone and other iDevices, as well as Android phones & tablets AND computers.
 In other words, all the quizzes we create must work well on all devices.

2 - When we create quizzes for our own students at The Marzio School, we want to personalize the activity, i.e., to know which students took which quiz, in order to be able to help them in the future after looking at their mistakes. We also want to test our students from time to time using the quiz application.

3 - The quiz maker must be easy to use, without requiring the teachers to use HTML (only half our teachers are familiar with HTML basics). Along the same lines, the instructions for the students must appear in contexts directly related to the quiz they are taking. Here's one of many examples:

4 - There must be some variety in the types of quizzes, including Multiple Choice,  True or False, Fill in The Blanks, and Matching Exercises.

5 - Given the fact that our quizzes are based on our own videos, the possibility of embedding these videos into the quiz must be included as a built-in feature.

6 - The students must get "double feedback", i.e., feedback concerning  why the correct answer is X and not Y, but also a score at the end showing all of the students' results.

We had been using the Hot Potatoes quiz maker for the past 10 years, because it fulfills our most important requirements except for #1, which is now the most important feature for us in 2012 - 2013. This old venerable "Hot Potatoes" program is now truly "old software",  since it does not support mobile platforms, and its creators have no intention of making  it mobile-compatible.

ProProfs failed in only one area - the last point in # 2: there are no matching exercises. This is a tiny fault compared to the fact that Hot Potatoes is useless for mobile devices.

ProProfs also includes features that will certainly be useful to our students,  such as the fact that students can acess the quiz from their laptops using ProProfs "embedded link" feature. There are also options for working with the ProProfs-generated files off-line, a truly unique feature.

There is really no comparison between Hot Potatoes and ProProfs relatively new entry into Web 2.0 interactivity.
Just a few examples:

  •  Many teachers who don't have time to produce completely-original content all the time will be happy to know that theQuiz Maker includes the largest library of pre-made questions on the Web (more than three million of them according to the information we find on the site) and also quiz templates (over 300,000).
  •  It automatically converts any user uploaded documents, including PDF & Word documents, into HTML5 so they can be loaded seamlessly across mobile devices.
  • There is a "statistics dashboard" that allows teachers to generate reports for each quiz-taker, or for individual questions, or for groups of students, and includes the average time spent per question, and percentage of correct/incorrect answers, for example.
  •  Once a test or quiz is created, the teacher receives a specific URL where it resides online. An embed code ensures that the test or quiz can easily be placed on a school Web site for secure access.
  •  This quiz maker does exactly what it says it does. The interface is simple, and it is completely customizable.
  •  And it's free if you don't mind the ads and branding that accompany the quizzes you make. Otherwise, there are reasonably priced subscriptions to choose from.

All in all, ProProfs is probably the program which most educators will find the most useful and the most complete. It's close to perfect for our particular needs, allowing us to serve both our world-wide audience with "anonymous quizzes", and also for the needs of our own students & teachers in our language school, allowing us to track all aspects of student performance with ease.


  1. Hi Mike, Remember me?
    We made Flash exercises together for your first video clips videos back in '99, when flash was new and exciting, and the video clips were tiny. I left Europe to work for a small company in Miami Beach in 2004 .
    I've been teaching 4 employees with little web experience how to use easy training programs, and we tried out the PP QuizMaker. I liked it a lot, but the boss wanted to use Quizlet for some reason. I never understood why. Have you tried that one too? It doesn't have many professional features, but it sure beats hot potatoes.
    After finding your blog, I'm sending you another message as email. I just wanted to say publicly that I do agree with what you say about Pro Profs here - It's got just about everything going for it. I'll send you my Skype name in the email.

  2. Hi Birgit, of course I remember you! I still have those flash exercises on my site, simply because they're truly excellent and still get lots of hits despite the rather small size of the 3 videos we used.
    It looks like you haven't got a google account, or if you do, you were not logged into it when you made your comment, since it comes from "Anonymous".
    Please write me at

  3. Sounds like a very useful program. I am a personal user of Adobe Captivate, which is both expensive and doesn't work on non-flash devices. The latter is a huge drawback, since I am trying to build a blog where all of my learning materials can be accessed with either a mobile device or a computer. I know my iPhone does not work with Flash, so that cuts out a huge market even if Flash works on Android phones. Also being in an Educational Technology Master's program makes me even more interested in ProProfs. Very insightful and useful post you've got here!

  4. Thanks Ryan, It's been working out well. I bought an iPhone just to test it, but I have no feedback from Android users yet. I would be most grateful if someone could tell me how it looks on a Samsung Galaxy for example:

  5. I thank you for this informative post and sharing it with us.

  6. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this issue, it might not
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  7. Hello Anonymous of June 15, 2013,
    There have been bugs - but there are bugs everywhere. The important point is that the people who use the mobile site like the quizzes I make with ProProfs.
    The bugs seem to come and go. But I wrote this post almost 6 months ago, it's been a positive experience in general with no bug reports for over 6 weeks.

  8. Hi there! I've been exploring to create some e-learning stuff and I've stumbled upon this post. I haven't used proprofs. Looks like a good testing tool. I will try it out. Thanks to you!

    1. Yes Cynthia, it's certainly worth trying out! If you're like me, you'll like the ease of use for professional results.