Wow, Hot Potatoes had a Facelift!

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Hot Potatoes is a quiz generating software application used to create activities suitable for language learning. Recently, Hot Potatoes has had a facelift. This facelift ensures that learning activities are responsive.  This means that the display is automatically transformed to suit laptop, tablet and mobile phone displays.

The facelift sports a more contemporary interface. Participants at recent workshops have argued that it is not a true reflection of current media appearance and it will not appeal to millennials.   While there is merit to this point-of-view, we, my team and I, are proposing that Hot Potatoes can be used as a part of a more comprehensive education technology solution.

6 Tech tools for your educational tool box

In our current project, we are using Hot Potatoes activities as one element in a mix of six education technology tools to assure that the students have a dynamic learning experience.   These tools are:

  • PowerPoint
  • EdPuzzle
  • Quizlet
  • Kahoot
  • Adobe Captivate
  • and Hot Potatoes.

We create learning events using the Hot Potatoes suite’s six applications when we determine that student learning can be enhanced or supported. These learning events include online interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises.  The Hot Potatoes Masher application allows teachers to bundle a series of activities into a theme.

It should be noted that developing simple learning activities with Hot Potatoes is faster than the more complex rapid development tools such as Adobe Captivate.  This can be debated if an Adobe Captivate development team has already developed a set of templates.  This is an expensive effort which most language teaching centres cannot afford.  For generating learning objects quickly that can be hosted through a variety of means, Hot Potatoes is a solid choice.

Pretty well everything I wrote in 2002 in, “Wow, I could have had a Hot Potato!”  reflects the current version of Hot Potatoes.  If you are a language instructor and want to quickly generate some digital activities that the students can use without instruction, I suggest you give Hot Potatoes a try.

Reasons to use Hot Potatoes as a language instructor:

  • Free of charge
  • Used for language teaching globally for over 15 years
  • Easy to learn/use
  • Publishes web pages
  • Publishes to SCORM (for LMS users)
  • Left to right script friendly
  • Activities are printable
  • Activities offer instant feedback
  • Activities can include
    • YouTube videos
    • Reading texts
    • Animations
    • Listening audio
  • Activities can be shared via
    • USB thumb drive
    • Learning management system
    • Local network
    • Web server (web address)
  • Activity options can include
    • A countdown timer
    • Customized appearance
    • A variety of button functions
    • Feedback/prompts/instructions
    • Hints and or clues
  • Lots of tutorials/resources online

There are a bounty of support resources listed below. A variety of providers have produced Hot Potatoes learning objects for different LINC levels.  These were created before Hot Potatoes had its facelift so the look and feel reflect the nineties.  However, they may be useful for your instructional purposes. If you have any comments about your experiences with Hot Potatoes, please comment below.

Hot Potatoes Resources

Creators’ site

Hot Potatoes, University of Victoria –

Downloads (download to your hard drive)

Hot Potatoes: Download – Hot Potatoes 6.3 installer (Hot Potatoes for Windows version 6.3).

Hot Potatoes Add-ons –

Facelift Responsive v1.3


Hot Potatoes Tutorials, Stan Bogdanov –

Hot Potatoes Tutorials, University of Victoria –

Hot Potatoes Manual, University of Victoria –

Hot Potatoes How To for Teachers, John Allan –

General Exemplars

Hot Potatoes example sites, University of Victoria (old site – some links do not work)

Hot Potatoes example sites, Stan Bogdanov.

 Taking Hot Potatoes to another level

Hacking Hot Potatoes: The Cookbook, Stan Bogdanov. (2013).

 Really Old Article

Allan, John. (2002). Wow, I Could have had a Hot Potato! TESL Ontario Contact magazine. Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring 2002. P. 40-42.

LINC Hot Potatoes Exemplars





LINC 5-7,


Hi—I'm John Allan. I am an educator who works in the technology enhanced language learning field. I create online learning opportunities and mentor instructors on the Avenue project. I have experience teaching ESL and EFL in Canada and the Middle East. I hold an MSC in Computer Assisted Language learning, a M.Ed. in Distance Education, TESL B. Ed., a B.Ed. (OCT), and a variety of TESL relevant certifications from TESL Canada, TESL Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more articles, learning objects, projects and blog links see


3 thoughts on “Wow, Hot Potatoes had a Facelift!”

  1. The affordances that the Hot Potatoes tool offers, for free, are useful, relevant and interesting. I’ve dabbled with the HP tools before, but haven’t built up a library of tasks yet. I can see that having a cache of online activities at the ready would be a huge time-saver down the road. I was worried that the old Hot Potatoes (with the retro nineties look) wouldn’t transfer to HTML5, so I had dismissed the tool entirely. I mean, what would have been the point of creating these activities just to have them be outdated and unable to be used?

    What I’ve discovered with Hot Potatoes, and any other edutech tool, is that the process of creation is never really in vain. Learning to create, manipulate and use the tool transfers to newer versions, or entirely different eductech tools altogether. Tech organizations borrow, adapt, revitalize, recreate etc. from each other all the time (read: Google docs from Microsoft Word, Microsoft OneNote tech from SMART software, etc).

    What it boils down to (no potato pun intended), is whether or not the tech tool chosen works for the task at hand, and fits in with the learning objective. Blended learning environments are on the rise, so what was traditionally done in the classroom needs to be modified so that the learner can do it on a screen (the screen, by the way, needs to be mobile-friendly…)

    John – I am looking forward to attending your webinar on this topic next week. See you then!

    1. I agree, Hot Potatoes is a fantastic tool to lean how to create one genre of digital learning objects. It is simple and yields results immediately. We had three different immediate needs for LOS in our department this term and reaching back into the past, thanks to the facelift, we have a solution for all three.

      Looking forward to the webinar also to see what others have done and are planning!



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