[LON-CAPA-users] Re: spreadsheets

Matthew Brian Hall lon-capa-users@mail.lon-capa.org
Tue, 12 Oct 2004 09:11:58 -0400

Hi Todd, 

> Come heck or high water, I do want to use the spreadsheets for my
> class this semester.  I'm pretty sure I understand the basics, but
> there are some details I need help with, the answers to some of which
> may be more appropriate off-line, I'm not sure.

I'll give you what help I can on this - the spreadsheet is pretty old code 
and I was the last person to work on it.  That said, I'd like to know why 
you really want to use it, and what you want to do with it, but we can chat 
about all that another time :) 

In the past we've wanted to do a lot of work on the spreadsheet but 
unfortunately it's been a low priority in favor of working on Chart and 
Statistics.The spreadsheet is exceedingly slow and cumbersome.  So slow that 
you will be starting computations in the evening and coming back to them in 
the morning (depending on the number of students and number of assignments). 

First, I should give you a bit of information about the spreadsheet.  I can 
tell from your questions you know most of this already but I'm including it 
for the sake of completeness. 

The spreadsheet is set up in a hierarchy.  The class has one spreadsheet 
which receives data from each of the student level spreadsheets.  The 
student level spreadsheets receive data from the assessment level 
spreadsheets.  The default student level spreadsheet is used for all 
students.  You cannot modify the spreadsheet for just one student.  The 
student level spreadsheet controls which assessment spreadsheets are used to 
compute each assessment in the course. 

> 1) If I generate sample spreadsheets in a "Test Course" can I 
> then move/use that spreadsheet to/in my live course in a reasonable
> way?  This is desirable so that I don't totally destroy the live course
> in my experimentation.

Unfortunately, no.  There is not, as I recall, a means of exporting 
spreadsheets.  I can send you the source for the default spreadsheets, which 
can be uploaded and modified.  My suggestion is that you make regular 
backups of your spreadsheets.  It is possible I could add this ability if 
you find it very necessary. 

> 2) I have experimented some with the assessment spreadsheet to
>  make it easier for students to read, especially for external
>  scores that have been uploaded. 

Good - please let me know how you've modified it so I can take a look at 
making the default version better. 

> Some observations/questions:
> a) I can edit and save a spreadsheet with a different name, 
>    eg: exam_assesscalc

Yes.  The extension '_assesscalc' or '_studentcalc' will be appended for 

> b) When I look at the spreadsheet for that resource later, it has
>  reverted to the previous version.

As you mention below, the mapping from assessment to spreadsheet is 
determined in the student level spreadsheet. 

> c) When I "Save as and Make this sheet the default" at the assessment
> level, and then try to view it at the student level, the exported
> lines do not seem to get refreshed, even if I "generate spreadsheet."
>  I seem to have to log out and back in again for this to happen. 
> Is that true, or is it one of those caching things?

Hmmm.  That really sounds like a bug.  It's unintentional behavior, even if 
it is the result of caching.  I'm glad you have found a work-around. 

> e) When I make a sheet a default, it also seems to override the
> selection that had been made for the spreadsheet of an individual
> problem on the student-level sheet.

All those assessments which have 'Default' listed for their spreadsheet in 
the student level spreadsheet will be changed when you "save and make 

> f) I assume that the pull-down boxes on the student-level sheet is
> to dictate which spreadsheet to use for the exports of individual
> assesments, but as noted above, it doesn't seem to stick.
>  Is there a better/different way to do this?

No, this is the only way to do this.  Make your selections and "save & make  
default" the student level spreadsheet.  It should remember the settings you 
made for each assessment. 

> g) I haven't been able yet to determine if these pull-down boxes
> affect the reporting of the grade for all students, or just the
> student shown.  Again, I think I'm being bitten by a caching bug,
> but I'm not sure.

Every student uses the same spreadsheet, as mentioned above. 

> Thanks for all your help on this.

Please keep me informed as to your progress and let me know what it is 
you're doing.  There may be easier ways to accomplish your goals. 

There are a couple more interface items available if your account also has 
domain coordinator privileges.  Look at the "Student Sheet Links" option of 
the course level spreadsheet and you should see links which allow you to 
expire spreadsheets for all students or for particular students. 


Matthew Hall           hallmat3@msu.edu
LON-CAPA developer
Michigan State University