It’s a Hot Potato

Are you tired of searching high and low for that “perfect” exercise for your students to do online? Do you find that although there’s a lot of good stuff out there – there’s nothing that exactly fits the needs of your particular mix of students at this particular time in their learning?

Well, since you know your students, your curriculum and what they need better than anyone else – I think you should be creating those online exercises yourself!


It is incredibly easy. Really. I swear on my Starbucks mug – so you know I really mean it.

If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you may remember me mentioning that I use Moodle extensively with my grade 8 students. Now I’d like to share with you how increadibly easy it is to fill your Moodle or “virtual classroom”, with your own professional looking interactive crosswords, matching, cloze and multiple choice quizzes by using a freeware program called Hot Potatoes.

By the way, you don’t have to have a Moodle site to use Hot Potatoes – Hot Potatoes is a program that you download to your computer and use to create exercises that you then save in a file on your computer. You then upload those files to your Moodle or website and then direct your students there to enjoy them.

The program really is so user-friendly, and there are so many good tutorials on the net too (the one I provide a link to below is the best one, I think), that I can almost promise you that if you start now, you’ll have your very first interactive exercises up and running for your students to enjoy in only a couple of hours.

As with everything in life, the first time is the hardest and then it just gets easier and easier.

Once you get the hang of it you can start adding all sorts of interesting “extras” to your exercises. You can for instance easily add a reading text, an audiofile, an image, an animation or a video that you want the students to have a look at before attempting the exercise.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Download and install Hot Potatoes on your computer

 2. Work through the following tutorial

3. Create & upload your exercises to your website or Moodle

4. Write me a note and tell me what you think ;-)

Good Luck!


My Moodle Challenge

I’ve been using Moodle with my Grade 8s for 3 years now.  I started from scratch – with an empty Moodle and an instruction manual. It wasn’t too difficult to work out how to create courses and fill them with some content. I just followed the instructions step by step and watched a lot of how-to videos on YouTube…

So, now I know how to create lessons and quizzes by using Moodle’s own lesson & quiz modules in addition to the free Hot Potatoes software. I’ve also got a good grip on how to add and embed all sorts of “stuff” into the courses. It’s wonderful how adding images and animations, videos and presentations, audiofiles and weblinks can spice up a course and make it colorful!  

Lately however, I’ve started getting bored with the look and feel of my courses and so I’ve begun searching for other free authoring tools (similar to Hot Potatoes) with which I can create interesting and different content.  So far I’ve come up with the following list of (free) tools to try out:

  Link: Xerte

 Link: Mos Solo

 Link: MyudUtu

 Link: ContentGenerator

 Link: Courselab

I have decided to give myself the following challenge: learn how to use all of these tools, one at a time. If you know of any other tools similar to these, please write me a note and I’ll add them to my “challenges” :-) (woohoo – I guess I’m taking a chance here… but oh well) If you have your own Moodle and also want to challenge yourself please do – and let me know how it went! 

In order to cross a tool off my list and consider it “tried and tested” I will create something (probably a quiz type activity) with it, upload the activity to my Moodle, test run it with my grade 8s and report back here with my findings.

Good Luck to me (and to you – if you’re creating too!)


Btw. If you have a lot of money to spend on software, here is a link to a list of Commercial Products you could try as well:

Magical Moodle Moments

Although many of the teachers I have met at this conference use ready made Moodle courses with their students, very few of them seem to actually be involved in setting a course up or creating (or even adding) content to their online Moodle courses. They’ve been handed Moodle in the same way as they would a workbook. To them it’s just a (good) resource.

Unfortunately, Moodle is not as well known in Turkey as in the rest of Europe, and many schools are far from ready to even consider blended learning. I guess that’s why publishers don’t offer “moodle packages” to go with their coursebooks yet? I really wish they’d start doing that soon because that would save moodlers like myself – who has had to create every bit of their course content from scratch – a lot of work and worry.

Barbara Gardner (Study Group)

Barbara Gardner (Study Group)

By “from scratch” I don’t mean html code or anything like that of course. I’ve been using Hot Potatoes a lot in addition to the modules Moodle (9.1) offers. I’ve also (quite recently) found out about CourseLab. However, yesterday at Barbara Gardener’s amazing presentation “Creating and Delivering Online Professional Development using Moodle” several wonderful things happened. One was Barbara sharing her knowledge and experience of how to set up a course and what sorts of features make a Moodle course more successful and rewarding for the course participants, another was my chance meeting with José Louis G. Belderrain, a programmer actively involved in creating “moodle packages” (SCORM) to go with Cambridge coursebooks!

Can you believe my luck? Both Barbara and José Louis stayed after Barbara’s presentation and discussed Moodle and moodling and content with me and seriously made my day! I am now literally bursting with new ideas for how to improve my own Moodle courses! In true “techno-freak-fashion” – we exchanged twitter handles and facebook account information and will (I hope to God) keep in touch so that I can learn more from them!

Ah! Happy day!!!