LATIN VIA FABLES: AESOPUS

Aesop's Fables... in Latin!

Ning Diary: Dec. 30 - sharing materials at Quia

As I've mentioned before, I'm an active participant in the Latinteach listserve, and there was some discussion about Quia materials yesterday, which prompted me to write the reply which I've copied below. One of the members of the list expressed reservations about sharing materials at Quia, but I take a very different viewpoint: the more sharing the better! Here's the comment I sent to the list about this issue - I've removed the names of the people involved in the discussion since the list is private and moderated, but I thought my comments here could be of general use, in addition to being relevant to the discussion at the list. :-)

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It's great hearing the different ways that people are using Quia. I think that is one of its real strengths: because it lets you create such different kinds of quizzes and activities, and configure them in different ways, you can use Quia for many different learning goals.

One thing I wanted to follow up on is the comments [name removed, since it is a private list] made about the dangers of sharing. I see that very differently, and since I think sharing is one of the biggest strengths of Quia, I wanted to comment on that here.

[name removed] mentioned that it was a problem when people had copied activities and put their names on them. I guess I don't see why that is a problem - it's not like anybody actually loses anything when that kind of copying goes on. Just to take one example, I created some "learn the Greek alphabet" activities which are part of my online Greek course. It doesn't affect my Greek course in any way at all if people copy and use my Greek alphabet quizzes - if people make copies of the quizzes for their own purposes, it doesn't change my course, so no harm done. Here's how I integrate the quizzes into the course pages: Greek course online (I just link to the review activities at the bottom of the page). Unlike the other materials I've created at Quia, these Greek alphabet materials are of very general interest, and I am delighted that people have the chance to copy them.

In fact, it is really IMPORTANT that people be able to share and copy activities and quizzes, precisely so that they can reconfigure the format to suit their own needs. There are two incredibly important reasons to let people copy your materials:

RECONFIGURE OPTIONS. As I explained in a previous post to the list, I configure the quizzes to let students redo questions during the quiz, knowing which ones are incorrect, but not being given the correct answer. This makes the quiz a great learning tool... but it makes it a poor testing tool, if you want to use the quiz for testing. So, if someone wants to take my quiz content, they can copy it (just a single click adds the quiz to your account), and then they can reconfigure it, letting students make only one attempt per question in order to use it for true testing purposes (the kind of scenario [name removed] described, where he is doing testing in a computer lab, just like giving a written test in class). They might also want to reconfigure the activity for content - for example, my Greek alphabet materials are focused on people who want to learn the Greek language, so it includes remarks about pronunciation - someone who wants to just teach the Greek alphabet for its own sake (say, for its use in science and math) should probably remove those remarks about pronunciation so that the activity better matches their own goals.

GRADEBOOK DATA. Just as importantly, by allowing people to copy your quizzes, you allow them to attach those quizzes to their Quia Gradebook and see the results of what their students are doing on the quiz. The real power of Quia comes when you are using it in conjunction with the Gradebook, and getting feedback about your students' performance (either for testing purposes, or just for more general assessment - I really like [name removed] idea of keeping track of the "most-missed" questions and using those as a focus). The only way you can get Gradebook data about a quiz is if you copy it to your account and make it part of your Quia class.

So, I allow everybody and anybody to copy my materials at Quia, and I sincerely hope they will do so. [name removed] warned about not reinventing the wheel - and I agree! The only way we can avoid that is by making our materials shareable. I've been using Quia for 10 years and while some of my more general purpose materials have been copied often, this has not done me any harm at all... and I like to think it has done other people a lot of good! [name removed] points out that you can prevent people from copying your materials at Quia -- I didn't even know that was possible, to tell the truth, and I'm kind of sad to hear that it is. I really cannot think of any good reason to disable copying of quizzes. I am very glad that Quia set the default for all materials to be shareable, so that people can configure the materials for their own needs and use it for their own classes - it really is one of the enormous strengths of their system, in my opinion.

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