questbase logo

QuestBase is an online assessment tool that is very easy to use. You can create quizzes/tests with the usual variety of question formats (multiple choice, multiple answwer, fill-in-the-blank, true/false and so on) and can also include links and files in the questions should you want to.The tests can then be published online or, should you need to, published to paper. You can also configure it for access via mobile devices.

jigsaw puzzle image

Access to the quizzes you create can be made completely open (i.e. anyone with the url can take them), only available to other QuestBase users, only enrolled contacts or groups or only to those that have an access code. Additionally, they can be password protected. Custom messages can be added to the start and the end of the quizzes, scores for each question can be set as well as an overall pass mark. For learners, upon completing the quiz, they get their score, along with their answers and correct ones and also a pie chart showing how many they got right/wrong.

The standard version is free and allows you to create an unlimited number of quizzes, with unlimited number of questions and no limit to the number of learners taking the tests. You are, however, limited in the range of question types available to select from and a maximum of 50Mb storage. Pro accounts, ranging from $49 -$199.95 per year with enhanced features and increased storage quotas are available.

This is a nice tool and easy to use – creating and deploying quizzes is carried out via a series of on-screen wizards – particularly if you are new to the world of online assessment.

My thanks to Paula Kilburn, Learning Resources Development Manager at Stockton Riverside College for bringing Questbase to my attention. You can follow Paula on Twitter @PaulaK66

Picozu – Online Photo Editor and Creator


Picozu is a web-based photo editor that also allows you to create images from scratch.  You can upload load images from your computer or you can import photos from cloud-based accounts like SkyDrive, Google Drive, Facebook or Dropbox and export to them as well. You can even import Photoshop .psd files and edit them – even creating anew image form one of the .psd images layers.

Picozu uses a layer-based editing workflow seen in editing software like Photoshop.  Although lacking the range of functionality of Photoshop, there are still dozens of filters and image-effects to give your photos the look that you want. Or you can use the regular tools and brushes to manually touch up your photos. The image below was captured using my web-cam , imported and then the pop-art filter applied. The whole process, from turning on my webcam to saving the image back to my desktop took about 2 minutes, and I reckon that about an hour would be sufficient time to become fully conversant with all that Picozu has to offer and so you could be editing photos to a fairly sophisticated degreee,  in a fraction of the time that it takes to getting your head around the complexities of Photoshop.


Their Firefox add-on takes screen captures and imports them into Picozu for editing. There are also built-in tools for creating photo collages and posters.

Picozu is written in  HTML5 and CSS3 and requires no Flash or other plugins.

You can sign up for an account if you want to, but you can also use the tool without doing so.

I am very impressed with the simplicity combined with power of Picozu.

BrailleTouch – Available on the App store from 31st January

Below is the text of an e-mail I received from the BrailleTouch developers. I decided to just copy and paste the entire e-mail because it covers everything about the availability of the app and the differences between the free, trial version and the paid for full version. Better to hear it from the source rather than my take on it I think…

BrailleTouch iPhone App


Thank you for your interest in BrailleTouch, and for signing up for the BrailleTouch email list. I am very excited to announce that BrailleTouch will be available on the App Store on Thu Jan 31 worldwide. We offer a free trial version, which lets you type in braille on your touchscreen and hear the letters or words spoken as you type them. If you like BrailleTouch and find it useful, you can purchase a full upgrade from the app which will allow you to send text messages, tweets, and emails directly from the touchscreen braille keyboard. You can also copy the text you type in braille and paste it into any other app on your iPhone.

The trial version of BrailleTouch is free to download from the App Store. The full upgrade is available for US$20 as an In-App Purchase. However, in appreciation of the overwhelming support we have received from the blind community, we are offering the full version for US$15 through Sunday February 3. We would like to express our gratitude to all of the generous volunteers who tested the app, to Accessible Devices, AppleVis, and Macneticos for their podcasts, and to everyone who has emailed us and posted on the VIphone and AppleVis forums and Twitter with helpful feedback.

You can read more about BrailleTouch including a User Guide and FAQ at our website:

The initial version of BrailleTouch supports Grade 1 uncontracted braille, based on the North American English standards. It includes upper and lower case letters, numbers, and most punctuation. Grade 2 contracted braille is our top priority for a future upgrade. We also hope to be able to support languages other than English in the future. BrailleTouch requires iOS version 5 or later, and will run on iPhone 3Gs or later and iPod touch 3rd generation or later. We recommend using a case with your iPhone or iPod touch, as this will help you grip the phone while typing and will keep you from covering the speaker on the iPhone under the Home button with your hand. If you use headphones, we recommend a right-angle headphone plug or Bluetooth headphones.

Feel free to forward this email to anyone you know who may be interested. This is a no-reply email address. We welcome any questions, comments, or feedback you may have. When the app comes out, we would love to hear your story about how you use BrailleTouch. You can contact us at:

Many braille instructors have contacted us about using BrailleTouch as a teaching tool. We hope the free version of BrailleTouch is helpful for learning the six-key braille keyboard. If you are a braille instructor or student, please let us know your experience using BrailleTouch.

We hope you like BrailleTouch and find it useful. Please download the free version on Thursday and try it before you buy it. And let us know what you think!

Best wishes,


Making more out of YouTube, Vimeo etc. with Popcorn Maker from Mozilla

Popcorn Maker

A lot of educators refer learners to TED Talks, YouTube, TeacherTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites (or, indeed, use any video in your teaching) as an alternative to PowerPoint, passages from textbooks, static, text-heavy web pages and so on. A lot of these videos contain really useful information that, ideally, learners make notes on and follow up after watching the video.

Would it not be better if you could insert additional information in the video which would allow your learners to access additional information whilst actually watching the video?

Well, thanks to Popcorn Maker you can do exactly that. According to their website, “Popcorn Maker makes it easy to enhance, remix and share web video. Use your web browser to combine video and audio with content from the rest of the web — from text, links and maps to pictures and live feeds.”

Take a look at this TED Talks video featuring Beau Lotto from University College London and Amy O’Toole who, along with her classmates from Blackawton School in Devon, are some of the youngest, published scientists in the world. I was really taken by both the content of the talk and the additional features that had been inserted into the video using Popcorn Maker. Suddenly, videos become even more useful in education than they already are.


In February 2012 I wrote a short posting on BrailleTouch, an app from Georgia Tech (USA), that was being developed to assist visually impaired people to use braille on the iPhone.

screenshot of the brailletouch app

brailletouch app

This week, they have announced that the app will be available in the app store by the end of this month. According to the e-mail I received from them:

“BrailleTouch is available for the iPhone and iPod touch. The initial version supports English Grade 1 braille, based on the North American braille standards. We are working on Grade 2 contracted braille support for the future. BrailleTouch is fully compatible with VoiceOver. You can download a free version of BrailleTouch to try it out. The free version will speak characters and/or words as you type them in braille, and read back the full text you typed. If you are a braille instructor, the free version may also be a helpful tool to use with your students. If you want to send text messages, emails, tweets, or copy text to the clipboard from BrailleTouch, you can upgrade to the full version through an In-App Purchase.”

You can find out more about BrailleTouch, including a User Guide and Frequently Asked Questions, on their website: and, should you want to, you can follow them on Twitter:

As soon as the app becomes available it will be added to Apptastic, a companion site to this blog, where I collect iOS apps that are useful in teaching and learning.



Ginger Software have produced a proofreader that seems a cut above your everyday spelling and grammar checkers. In stead of checking word by word, Ginger appraises your writing paragraph by paragraph, thus enabling the individual words to be assessed in some context. This approach means that things which would be deemed correct in terms of spelling and grammar by many spellcheckers are picked up and appropriate suggestions given by Ginger. How does it do this? Well, this quote from their website explains it this way: “Ginger’s NLP Platform crawls the web and analyzes the contents of Millions of web pages to create statistical linguistic patterns. These patterns are used to understand the probable meaning of a written sentence, and the most probable intent of the user.”

Oh, and it’s free…

60 Educational Apps in 60 Minutes

60 educational Apps in 60 minutes

60 educational Apps in 60 minutes

This prezi from Clint Stephens is well worth investing your time in.

An imaginative approach to organising and displaying information about apps that are useful to educators, this prezi is very useful for CPD sessions.

The apps are organised into four ‘quarter hours’ titled Productivity Time, Fun Time, General Ed Time and Core Time. Each app is named, explained and screenshots of it in action are also included.

Thanks to Ralph Holland (once again!) for bringing this to my attention.

Best iOS Apps for Mobile Learning infographic

Based on a list of  iOS apps compiled by Edudemic the folks at Online Universities produced this great infographic which would look really good on the wall of a library (with permission from Online Universities for printing it out of course) or embedded into a web-page in your Virtual Learning Environment or a web-based Library Catalogue (the embed code can be found below the infographic at Best iOS apps for mobile learning

Best iOS Apps for Mobile Learning


You can read a short description about each of the apps here.

Once again, a tip of the hat to Ralph Holland of South Tyneside College for this.

Create e-Books from Wikipedia

There are positives and negatives to using Wikipedia in Education (see Eric J Fox’s blog for more discussion of this) but one of the features that I quite like is the ability to select, compile and then export pages as an e-Book in the e-Pub format.

To do this, go to a page you want to include in your book, and, from the left-hand tool bar, expand the Print/export option and select Create a book from the expanded menu options. The screenshots below show the tool-bar before and after the Print/export option has been expanded.

Clicking on Create a book takes you to a page which gives you the option to start the book creator along with full instructions on how to do so. Once you have enabled the book creator, new toolbar (see image below) is added to the top of the page you started on and you simply click on a link in that toolbar to add that page to your book.

wikipedia book creator toolbar


Once you have several pages in your book, clicking on Show Book in the toolbar allows you to re-order, remove, title your book and export it in one of four formats, including as a PDF or an e-Pub file.

If you want to direct your learners to a number of Wikipedia articles, this could be a useful alternative to providing them with a list of links.

A couple of iPhone Apps

Pearltrees is one of my favourite tools for collecting and sharing links, images, notes etc. and now it is available as an iPhone app:

Pearltrees iPhone screenshot

Pearltrees iPhone screenshot

You can download the app from the iTunes store here – oh, and it’s free.

The other iPhone app that I wanted to bring to your attention is SlideShark - an app that allows you to view PowerPoint slides on your iPhone.

You can view an introductory video here.

Brought to my attention by Ralph Holland of South Tyneside College, you can read more about it on this blog from Miles Austin:

Reading On Screen

making reading using digital devices easier

making teaching and learning technology work for you


Apps for use in Education

Jisc Regional Support Centres Blog

making teaching and learning technology work for you

Langwitches Blog

making teaching and learning technology work for you


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