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Zoho Challenge review

March 25, 2010

Today, for a change, I am going to recommend against using a tool. The product is Zoho Challenge, an online test creation app. It’s part of the Zoho online office suite, which includes more than a dozen apps.  Zoho Challenge is not listed with the other apps on the main Zoho page; it’s off to the side under “Utilities.” Right away it’s a challenge.

A basic Zoho account is free for personal use, so I decided to log in and try creating a test. After logging in, I had three options: 1) create tests, 2) enter questions, or 3) manage users. I took the first option and began to make up a test. Alternatively, I could have entered questions and then added them to a test.

There are four question type options: Multiple Choice, True of False, Fill Up The Blanks, and Descriptive Answers. There is no option for matching questions. Zoho can randomize the order of your questions and pick questions from a pool at random. It can also randomize the order of answers for all the questions on a test (not just questions you select).

The process of creating the test and adding questions was simple, but I found parts of the design confusing. For example, on the main list of tests you need to hover over a test to see the options for working with the item. New users would find that unhelpful. If you want to edit questions in a test after saving the test, you choose “View questions.” That sounds like previewing to me, rather than editing. In general, the screen designs are very open, so lot of scrolling is required. IMHO, the interface could be a lot more efficient.

When I previewed the test, my two fill-in the blank questions did not work – my correct answers were not recognized as such. I looked for help and couldn’t find any links to help, support or FAQs. From the home page you can click “support”, but there is no documentation for Zoho Challenge. When I signed up for Zoho Challenge I received a confirmation email with links to a help page, but those pages are not linked to the actual site. Even after combing the help pages, I still don’t know why my question doesn’t work.

I did not explore either the Question Banks functionality or the management module. The system allows you to create and manage lists of “candidates” and “evaluators.” It also creates banks of questions so that items can be re-used. Questions can also be tagged, allowing you to find the same item under “Chapter1” and “Photosynthesis.” Tests can be made available to anyone or only to “candidates” you invite. You can also specify data and time limitations when the test can be taken.

Two experimental tests are available at http://challenge.zoho.com/cclark2 – hover over a title and click “Take Test.” You also have the option to embed a test in a website using an iframe code, just like you would with a YouTube video.

I applaud the good folks at Zoho for offering a free tool for creating tests online and I imagine they will eventually remedy the issues I have cited here. However, I cannot recommend this product to my colleagues at Notre Dame as it stands. Our course management system, Concourse, handles their needs much better.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2011 7:02 pm

    Chris,

    For creating formative tests we have a product called “buildmytest”. Its targeted for K-12 Common Core Assessments. Our test builder is designed to help navigate very extensive and large pre-populated question banks that are created by publishers.

    Creating questions is sophisticated as you can tag the questions with state standards and other details.

    We are looking at taking the product into the higher ed space. And we love to learn about user experiences with other products.

    Any thoughts on exambuilder or questionmark ?

    regards
    pradeep
    psharma@edtechsystems.com
    http://www.edtechsystems.com
    http://blog.edtechsystems.com

    http://www.twitter.com/edtechsystems

  2. paul martin permalink
    August 29, 2010 3:11 am

    ..now reviewed on bbc click – but in my lazy way I am not sure if there is enough to encourage me to start using such; the google offer is good and at work we have at least three alternatives, inc a microsoft one. The market seems saturated to me, but worse than that as a teacher I have found that these tools are, in general, not that useful for the actual job in hand.

    As a Sunday morning aside from this part of the world if I was Zoho I would worry that I was not in the religious fervour stakes that Apple & Google (and to an executive degree Microsoft). In reality, as everyone under my age seems to be addicted to social I would wondering what the next fashion is. Content is King they say but the French have the phrase “cherchez la femme”.

  3. Chris Clark permalink*
    April 9, 2010 5:07 pm

    The fill-in the blank questions now work; I tested my old samples and a new one. I’m impressed with the company’s quick response to this issue. Have you considered adding a way to preview a question while you are in the question editor – before it is added to a test? I look forward to staying current with improvements in the product.

  4. April 9, 2010 9:55 am

    Hi Chris,
    As promised, I am back with an update. I am happy to announce that the auto-evaluation feature for fill in the blank and descriptive questions is now available!

    We are also improving our UI for the test listing and assignment pages (along with a few other updates). Stay tuned.

    Regards
    Aravindhan Vijayaraghavan
    Product Manager, Zoho Challenge.

  5. March 30, 2010 7:42 am

    Chris –

    First, thanks very much for taking the time to evaluate Zoho Challenge. I am sorry to hear we didn’t meet your needs this time around. I think you raise some valid points, including that Auto Evaluation should cover more question types. This is something that we are actively working on. We’ll also address some of the usability points you mention.

    At Zoho, we pride ourselves in being able to take constructive criticism and improve fast. Having people who understand and care for online test tools is very valuable for us. If you’d like to provide feedback on our upcoming iterations, we’d love to hear from you.

    Thanks!

    Aravindhan Vijayaraghavan
    Product Manager, Zoho Challenge

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