More Zoho applications for learning

In previous posts, I looked at Zoho Notebook and Zoho Show as learning tools. Today, I’m going to look at a few other applications that are useful components of a teaching or training toolkit.

Zoho Polls

Zoho polls iconZoho Polls are easy to create and  can be made public or semi-private (i.e., by invitation). You can create  a poll that allows viewers to vote or to rate something (a list of tools, a list of potential solutions, etc).

As shown below, you can readily go back and edit a poll after completing it or move on and create a new poll.

You can monitor comments on your polls via an RSS feed and you can allow the comments to be public or read-only by you, as the poll moderator.

To participate in this poll, go to twitter-for-training (my thoughts about this will be the  subject of a different post).

Polls are useful ways of sparking discussions. Unlike a survey application, you pose one question at a time, so needless to say you’re focusing on a single topic at a time.  Having a comment field allows you to collect qualitative as well as quantitative information and it’s particularly useful, when in this case, there’s not a lot of context to the polling question. (My ulterior motive is not to impose my own ideas on folks but to get their gut reactions.)  Zoho Poll is an asynchronous polling tool, so you’re not collecting real-time results, but it’s a useful way to poll a larger audience than might be in your classroom/training session and to bring the results back to your classroom/training room or eroom to consider.

Zoho Creator

Zoho Creator allows you to create different types of forms.  Create your own or select from a template and modify it. Take time to wander around the marketplace because  you’ll find quite a few forms here created by users for education. You can use Zoho Creator’s “Customer Survey” form (one of the form templates)  and modify it to create surveys to complement performance analysis, training needs assessment, or to create a course evaluation form.

Zoho Wiki

Zoho offers a serviceable wiki platform that’s free for three users though you can upgrade for a fee to include other users ($8/fourth user/month). Since there are other wiki sites out there that are completely free, if you intend to involve a large user base, this platform’s probably not for you.  But if you’re creating a wiki to provide information, as a personal learning tool, or to set up a small collaboration project, it’s not a bad option.

Zoho Chat

Zoho Chat offers two useful ways of making a Web site,  or even a blog, part of  a synchronous learning experience. You can embed a Shoutbox code snippet into a Web page or blog  to allow groups of visitors to your site to chat amongst themselves. You can also join in the conversation. Live Chat allows you to have a one-to-one conversation with someone visiting your site.

Zoho Discussions

Zoho also provides an application for creating discussion forums. It’s simple to set up and you get two free forums. You can use this program to facilitate an asynchronous discussion (using a Web site or Zoho notebook to provide additional instructional resources or context, for example). If  you don’t have the time to set up an LMS like Moodle and/or want to use the forum as part of a collaboration/brainstorming project, this is an application to consider.

Zoho Meeting

Zoho Meeting is a Web conferencing service that’s free for very limited uses (one-on-one conferences). There’s a range of pricing plans, if you want to use this platform for larger groups.

Some of the interesting features of Zoho Meeting include:

  • embedding: you can embed a code snippet to host a meeting from your Web site/blog
  • Meet Now: start and share presentations instantly using this feature
  • Meeting Add-ons: Add a Zoho Meeting button to your Firefox toolbar  to make instant meetings even easier

Like other webinar services, you’re able to share desktops and give control to another presenter using Zoho Meeting.

Zoho Challenge

Zoho Challenge is a new feature of Zoho that allows you to create practice and assessment questions for your learners. You can create question banks and invite multiple evaluators to help you manage your challenges. You can  embed a Challenge on a Web page or blog or on a Zoho Notebook page. You also can send a link to a Challenge via email.

Zoho Challenge allows you to create tests that include:

  • multiple choice
  • true/false questions
  • fill-in-the-blanks
  • short essays (which you can auto evaluate)

The free option  allows you to send your tests to 100 users , but you can only create a public test. If you want to send assessments to selected people you’ll have to sign up for one of the not-so-free plans.  The not-so-free plans allow you to control whether feedback is provided instantly or after a period of time you’ve defined.

I haven’t kicked the tires on this application and it’s not clear from the plan Web page what tools are available for evaluators to monitor test results  (e.g., Do you get results in the form of a spreadsheet? Can you compare results from the same test administered at different times?).  But hopefully, a FAQ sheet will be forthcoming.

Conclusion

Zoho has many useful applications for instruction and training that are free and easy to use and quickly set up.  Many of these programs are evolving so it’s worth keeping an eye on Zoho for further improvements and new features.

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