Qwheel: Question wheel

A common problem facing teachers is that if you pose a question to a class, the same few students, usually in the first row, answer them. These students are typically not representative of the class, being more advanced and/or paying attention. To get around this problem, Qwheel uses a spinning "prize wheel" image (+sound) to randomly select a name from a list. Once a name is selected, it is removed from the list (although this behavior can be suppressed). Using Qwheel is a great way to fairly distribute questions in the class, get to know the names of your students, and keep them attentive.

To use Qwheel, visit https://mitotic.github.io/wheel

Setup: No accounts or logins required! Create a list of names from the class roster. You can use full names, or an abbreviated form, such as first name plus enough letters from the last name to make it unique, e.g., JaneDo; JohnS. Names in the list may be separated by line-breaks, semicolons, commas or spaces. You can create a line-break-separated list of names by simply copying from an Excel spreadsheet column, or from a file with a name in each line, and pasting it into the dialog box when requested. The Export option in the drop-down menu may be used to generate an URL that can be copied to re-create the name list in a different browser. (To use Qwheel without accessing the web, see Code info below.)

Usage: Click on SPIN to rotate the wheel. When a name is selected, a dialog box will appear. Clicking OK will remove the selected name from the list, clicking Cancel will retain the name.

Sessions: A sequence of spins starting with a new list of names is referred to as a session. The default session has a blank name. Alternate session names are specified using the optional session parameter in the URL and persist indefinitely in the browser (using information stored in browser's offline local storage). The drop-down menu may be used to switch between sessions or create a new session. Restarting a session will restore the original list of names. Deleting a session will erase it from the browser. (Deleting the default session will re-create it.) Exporting a session displays an URL that can be copied and pasted in a different browser.

Creating URLs: As an alternative to copying/pasting names, you can generate a permanent URL for creating a new session. Start with a list of semicolon- or comma-separated names. If there are any spaces within names, replace them with plus (+) signs. Then generate a URL string that looks like this:
https://mitotic.github.io/wheel/?session=math101&names=Jane+Doe;John+Doe;John+Smith This URL can be stored in a file and reused to restart a session, as needed. Note that the query symbol (?) denotes the start of the parameter list and the ampersand (&) separates different parameters. The optional session parameter enables multiple parallel sessions. Another optional parameter max may be used to specify the maximum number of names displayed (default: 30). If there are more names than this maximum, a random subset of consecutive names from the list is pre-selected and displayed in the wheel. If the names parameter is omitted, the list of names can be entered manually via a dialog box.

Sample URLs:
https://mitotic.github.io/wheel/ Enter names via dialog box for default session
https://mitotic.github.io/wheel/?names=JohnS,JaneD Default session, comma-separated first names+last initials
https://mitotic.github.io/wheel/?session=calc101&max=15&names=John+Smith,jr.;Jane+Doe Named session, semicolon-separated names, max. display of 15 names

Code: The source code is available on Github. You can download the code and open the www/index.html in your browser to run Qwheel locally, even without an internet connection, by appending parameters to the file URL (.../index.html?names=...). To customize, modify the www/index.html file. This implementation uses the jQuery rouletteWheel code.

  1. Reloading the page helps if the wheel does not appear.
  2. The maximum length of an URL is about 2000 characters. If names are shortened to about 10 characters each, a maximum of about 200 names can be handled in the URL. For a longer list, pasting into the dialog box should work.
  3. Specify reset=1 in the URL to clear all sessions.
  4. An undocumented parameter stats=1 can be specified to verify the randomness of the selection algorithm.