Using BookWidgets passwords - serious fun

Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt… searching for clues… slowly but surely inching towards the treasure.

Most quiz passwords are used to ensure classroom assessments are going as planned, but they can also be used to bring fun into classroom learning. In this post I'l show you how.

But first the mechanics, what passwords can you configure and why would you use them… If you know how it’s done feel free to jump to the hunt at the end :-).

Password configuration

Passwords are supported by our Quiz/Worksheet widget types.

Each of these widgets supports 3 different passwords, which are used to:

  • guard the correct answers
  • prevent early start
  • provide access to the answer keys

Guarding the answers

Whether your students are taking an assessment or are practicing using self-correcting exercises, you may have reasons for not showing answers just yet.

For an assessment you may only want to reveal the correct answers - and how they’ve done - when everyone has completed the exercise. This prevents the voluntary or involuntary leaking of correct answers to students who’re still busy.

If your students are using worksheets to practice new skills you want to make sure they’re giving the exercises the right amount of attention before checking: it’s when actively practicing when most of the learning happens, simply reading answers won’t achieve as much.

Configuration is easy - make sure the ‘Show correct answers when quiz is done’ checkbox in the General/Correction options section is checked and provide a password in the ‘Submit/show answers password’ field below. If submitting of answers is enabled, the student will be presented with a password dialog after his results have been sent. If not he’ll be asked for the password when he clicks the ‘Check’ button.

Show answers password configuration Click to see how it works. Press the checkmark at the top-right to check your answers and enter ‘whiskey’.

Preventing early start

There may be different reasons why you don’t want your students to be able to start a widget right away:

  • You may be using widgets for your exams and you want all of your students to start at exactly the same time.
  • Or you may want to make sure your students have completed or mastered something else first.

Whatever the reason, the startup password is there for you, available under the General/Startup password section, and it will hide widget contents until entered. You can also configure whether the password is presented every time the widget is started, useful when using shared devices, or just once.

Startup password configuration Click to see how it works. Enter ‘airplane’ to start the quiz.

Sharing the answer keys

The third password provides the possibility of showing the answer keys, useful as a reminder when correcting your student’s answers or when sharing a widget with a colleague.

The configuration is done in the General/Answer keys section. Getting to the answer keys is hidden in the widgets: we didn’t want to add a button which all students would see, so we hid it under the clear button (the trash can icon). If you’ve configured an answer keys password and you press the trash can for 3 seconds the answer keys password dialog pops up. After entering the correct password, you’ll be able to see all the correct answers. The PDF download icon will also become visible so you can download a PDF with the correct answers. If you’re previewing your widget in the OSX or Windows tool, you can also select ‘Print to PDF’ under the Preview menu which will get you a printed version of your quiz which contains all correct answers.

Answer keys configuration Click to see how it works. Press the trashcan for 3 seconds and enter ‘yellow frogs’.

Remembering passwords

Remembering one password is easy… remembering a zillion is hard… and that’s unfortunately required in the world we live in. Using the same password as startup password for all your quizzes defeats the purpose, but may make sense for an answer keys passwords you only ever share with your fellow teachers.

I did hear an interesting trick from one of our users: he uses the cover image as a visual reminder for a startup password, e.g using ‘white hair’ password for an Einstein cover image. If you’re sharing widgets between colleagues that probably won’t be good enough, capturing shortcodes and their passwords using a Google Sheet is a good option.

Passwords will of course get forgotton… and when that happens you’ll need to open the widget in an editor to check what it is… for any uploaded widget you can use BookWidgets iPad app or a webbrowser to do that, even if you’ve created your widget using your PC at home.

Changing passwords

Students will remember shortcodes and they will remember passwords. So if you’re planning to use the same quiz in different classes, changing the password after the first class took the quiz may be a good idea. Similar to password lookup you may want to use the iPad app or browser to get this done using the device you have in your classroom. Don’t forget to update the shared copy after you’ve made your change!

Treasure hunt

Enough theory, time to play!

Because passwords can be used to guard widget contents, we can use them to chain widgets: each widget provides the key for the next widget to start.

We can use this in mastery learning scenarios - ensure one concept is well understood before starting a next - or as we’re doing here use them as part of a treasure hunt. In this example we’re providing the keys in the feedback section at the end of a quiz: only if all answers are correct will the key be shown.

Quiz feedback configuration
Quiz feedback configuration

Keys can also be hidden in other widget types, your imagination is the limit, e.g:

  • A jigsaw puzzle can contain a key either in the image itself or in the message which is presented when done
  • Letters from a crossword could form a key, e.g. second letter of word 2, fourth lettor of word 5 …
  • The largest animal in this hangman game

Here I’ve combined several widgets in a webquest.. and hidden our treasure as a link in the feedback section of the last Quiz.

Percentages treasure hunt Click to open… basic math skills required. Use ‘25’ and ‘gold’ in case you’re lazy, but you won’t find the treasure until you complete the 3rd quiz :-)

Hope you enjoyed the hunt and it’s brought some ideas for engaging your classroom… If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Xavier Van Elsacker

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