First National Congress
6-7 December 2004, Cebu City, Philippines


Educational Freeware: Hot Potatoes and Memory Lifter
by Sheila R. Bonito
Faculty of Development & Management Studies, UP Open University

Educational freeware are software programs that enhance learning and that are distributed for free as long as the author retains copyright of the software and the software are not used for commercial purposes. Two educational freeware that are useful for all subject areas will be demonstrated.

The first, called Hot Potatoes, is a software program that is designed to allow teachers to make interactive Web-based exercises that can be accessed by students at any computer terminal with Internet access. Teachers can create six different types of Web-based exercises that can stand alone or be linked to other exercises to form a sequence of tasks. Teachers do not need to know anything about creating Web pages to use Hot Potatoes. They simply enter their data-texts, questions, answers, etc.-and the program will create the web pages automatically. The teachers can also customize feedback such that students receive different messages for whatever answer they choose. The teacher can also provide students with hints or clues to aid memory recall. A reading text can be included in the exercises, as well as graphics, sounds, and video.

Memory Lifter, the second program included in this demo-presentation, consists of automated flash cards with multimedia support. It is primarily for memory improvement, vocabulary memorization, and language learning, but can be adapted in science and mathematics education. Word and picture associations are used to improve retention of learning. The program is based on the concept of learning flashcards where the question and answer are stored on the front and back of the card, respectively. Additional data that will stimulate recall, such as sample sentences, sounds, video, and/or an image, may be included.

Both Hot Potatoes and Memory Lifter allow teachers to customize the learning activities provided for, to fit their needs. They also have a feedback system that enables learners to assess their own progress. Both make for an interesting supplement to classroom or other online activities of students. An important point to be made is that the appropriateness of the content of the learning activities designed using the templates provided by the software, remains the teacher's responsibility.