bbblog by bbbhltz

technology, education, other sundries

If I Could I Would...

technology education 100DaysToOffload

This week, someone assumed I knew about programming and software development. I absolutely do not. That is not to say I don’t have ideas about what I would like to make. The only thing holding me back is learning how to do it. It is even likely that these things either already exist, or are easy to do.

Here are two tools that I would like to make, both for work-related tasks, both already exist in one form or another.

Something Like Hot Potatoes

Hot Potatoes Home Page

The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like. It is not open-source. The Java version provides all the features found in the windows version 6, except that you can’t export a SCORM object from Java Hot Potatoes.

Hot Potatoes, like the description states, is a tool for making online exercises. It works fine. Great, in fact. I have been using it on and off for over 15 years.

There are lots of ways to imitate what Hot Potatoes can do, especially with all of the modules available in LMS platforms like Moodle. What I would like is an application like Hot Potatoes, but cross-platform, and with a UI that all of my colleagues and students could grasp. A clone, basically.

It is redundant, especially with all of the software that exists today that can do this, but I still haven’t found one software that is very easy for most users that can create a variety of exercises like this.

Something Like Gnuplot, But With Words

Gnuplot Home Page

gnuplot is a command-line program that can generate two- and three-dimensional plots of functions, data, and data fits. The program runs on all major computers and operating systems (Linux, Unix, Microsoft Windows, macOS, and others). It is a program with a fairly long history, dating back to 1986. Despite its name, this software is not part of the GNU Project.

Graphs and charts. They are everywhere. Every time I use Gnuplot I have to look up the same tutorials. I only need to be able to make several types of graphs:

  • Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Line graphs
  • Box plots

Gnuplot can do this, LibreOffice and Excel can do this. Lots of things to make graphs, but none with words.

I want something that can parse text and turn it into a graph. For example, if I write, “Sales began rising sharply in April…bottomed out in June…skyrocketed in July…” it will draw an approximate of that graph.

It would also do the opposite, where I could import data (from a CVS file, for example), create a graph or chart, and it would describe it for me.

The use here would be for students who are learning English as a second language, but perhaps for accessibility reasons as well.

Now that I have written this, I will go poke around. There is a good chance what I am looking for already exists.