Bringing the Open Source Ethos to Test Prep Resources

Recently, I was contacted by Nick from ProProfs.com [corrected link on 10/9/07] about their SAT preparation wiki and resources. While it is a for-profit enterprise, ProProfs invites teachers and professors to blog and compose wiki pages that offer free SAT help, help that is often unaffordable for many students. To that end, I found the site compelling. Yet, I was a bit discouraged by the Google ads that populate it, many sending users to essay writing sites.

Here is what Nick sent me in his introductory email:

Free SAT Test Training (nationwide)
E-learning Website Could Save Students Thousands of Dollars

Students & parents can potentially save thousands of dollars this year in preparation for the SAT’s – the nations most important pre-collegiate examination. Instead of buying books, materials or registering for pre-SAT courses, they now have access to ProProfs (http://www.proprofs.com/sat/), a free online training site for the SAT Test.

The site features a comprehensive collection of SAT preparation material (covering all three major areas of the exam) that includes study guides, flash cards, practice questions, and even simulated exams. Quizzes, videos, blogs, wiki and interactive forums are also provided

More than two million students take the SAT each year. With the launch of SAT Test School, ProProfs aims at providing students and educators the resources they need, free of charge, and in a convenient format.

The ProProfs SAT School also uses Web 2.0 technologies like Wikis to continually improve by being open to the e-learning community for editing and content contribution. Discussion forums, online file exchange, creation of quizzes/flashcards, student blogs and tagging of resources are
also supported.

For more information about ProProfs SAT School, please visit – http://www.proprofs.com/sat/

About ProProfs:
ProProfs.com, a leader in online learning, provides free resources to students and educators. ProProfs provides the tools necessary for students to succeed in diverse fields ranging from technical certification to college entrance examinations. ProProfs also delivers free e-learning content around the world to students from all backgrounds.

I then visited the site and checked out some of the services that they offer. I am not an expert on the SAT, per se, but have quite a bit of knowledge about the way that the MEAP is designed and scored. As I quickly viewed the site, especially the section on writing the essay, the advice seemed consistent with my experiences in test-based writing what many professionals are now calling for with their efforts to study “writing-on-demand” as a genre.

And, what’s most interesting to me is that it’s a wiki. If it is inaccurate, I suppose that any teacher could sign up to become an editor. That feels empowering to me as a teacher of writing — the idea that we could have the power to offer genuine advice and think about how to situate SAT writing as one (and only one) of a variety of types of writing that students need to be able to do. To say it in our words, rather that through “official” test prep guides may be a unique opportunity that this site provides.

Still, I was a bit uncomfortable about the commercial nature of the the Google Ads directed at essay writing services. That said, Nick offered many reasons in a return email about why ProProfs. From his second email:

– We are primarily a community supported free site with revenue coming from onsite advertising. Users create content such as blogs, wiki articles, quizzes and flashcards. Content is then open to the community for use, rating and comments. This allows community filtering of best content. This is much along the lines of how community powered sites like wikipedia work (though we are not a non profit).

– I regret that you came across some advertisers through the google network that you would not consider reputable. Even though we source this through a reputed company like Google, we are constantly working to ensure that only reputable advertisers get access to our site and periodically update our ban list. You can read about out most recent update to ensure safe advertising at:
http://www.proprofs.com/forums/blog/proprofs/index.php?showentry=254

– Professors and teachers use our site in various ways. Some use our unique features to create and share resources for their own coursework such as quizzes, flashcards etc. Others use the resources already offered by the site such our very popular IT certification resources. An interesting case study on how a Virginia School was using ProProfs was published in THE Journal recently. For your reference it is located at: http://thejournal.com/articles/20681

Rest assured you would be pointing your readers to a reputable resource. To convince you further of our reputation, I am enclosing a coverage in About.com (a leading website in education):
http://homeworktips.about.com/b/a/257749.htm

So, that is where I left the conversation. From what I can tell, ProProfs is offering a unique service and hoping to keep it free for many students by utilizing volunteer writers and Google ads. I would encourage all of you to check the site out, too, and let me know what you think. Nick’s final words offered more contact info:

If you need any further information from me or feel free to contact Sameer Bhatia, Founder & President, ProProfs.com. Sameer is reachable via email at sameer@proprofs.com

6 thoughts on “Bringing the Open Source Ethos to Test Prep Resources”

  1. Troy: Appreciate you bringing our service to the attention of your readers. Will be glad to address any questions or concerns the readers of Digital Writing, Digital Teaching may have. Just wanted to bring to your notice that link in the first sentence to proprofs.com gives an “Error 404 – Not Found”

    Thanks
    Sameer

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