Quia: A Different Approach to Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

The idea of a Quintessential Instructional Archive might sound a bit imposing to the average student, but any electronic arena filled with creativity and learning should not be ignored.

More commonly referred to as Quia, this 3-year-old Internet haven gives teachers, children and parents an interactive environment with more than 500,000 activities to explore, focusing on topics from music appreciation to the pH scale.


SITE ADDRESS: www.quia.comCreator: Paul Mishkin, 29, a Harvard graduate who studied educational technology, created the Quia Web site in March 1998. It is operated by Quia Corp., a 20-person educational technology company based in Burlingame, Calif.

CREATOR QUOTABLE: "We created this site because Internet technologies are being underutilized in education. Most education-related Web sites simply re-purpose content from other formats. For example, they offer textual information that could be read on a printed page or educational games that could just as easily be found on a CD-ROM," says Mr. Mishkin, president of Quia Corp.

"There is nothing wrong with this approach, and there are a great many wonderful educational sites out there, but we knew that we could do more to fulfill the promise of Internet technology in education. Above all, Quia is about new types of teaching and learning that could never have been possible without technology and the Internet."

WORD FROM THE WEBWISE: Quia provides a variety of free educational services. Visitors can immediately find a directory of on-line games and quizzes in more than 40 subject areas, including biology, mathematics, geography, chemistry and even Latin.

Through a humble opening page, the site greets visitors with links to the top activities available, numerous categories and important FAQs (frequently asked questions) for first-timers.

Users simply click a category and select games whose activities range from matching a decimal to its nearest whole number to playing hangman with words associated with urology to trying a quiz based on Newton's laws of motion.

Games are placed on the site by Quia editors or educators and students seeking to hone skills in a certain discipline. These enterprising folks register with Quia and use its templates to generate 12 types of on-line challenges, including flashcards, jumbled word searches, a scavenger hunt and "rags to riches" - a "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" knockoff.

Educators also can create areas for their classes to take quizzes. Quia offers statistical breakdowns of the tests, showing details such as the students' average score, high and lows, and the most common answer for a particular question. Instructors have the flexibility to add bonus points and comments to each student's quiz. A printed summary of the student's final score, along with the instructor's comments, is then available. …