[LON-CAPA-users] Need Advice on Putting Up a Sample Test

Amos Lee lon-capa-users@mail.lon-capa.org
Tue, 20 May 2008 20:14:19 -0600

Gerd Kortemeyer wrote:
> On May 16, 2008, at 12:59 PM, Amos Lee wrote:
>> (2) Feedback to each question will be postponed to the end of the  
>> test.
> That's possible. How should the test be started and ended?
Thanks for the fast reply, Gerd.

We would like the test to start when the user activates the timer.
The test would end either by timing out or when the user exits.

>> (3) At the end of the test, a summary displays the test score, and
>>    which questions have been answered incorrectly.
> We have in the past built a custom XML-pages to do this. The typical  
> grades display is too complex for just one test for most users.
It would be great if you can supply us with some sample XML page for
us to assess the level of programming expertise that would be involved.

>> Some questions:
>> Q1. How hard would it be to achieve these features in a login
>>     environment for:
>>    (a) users who are already in the class list?
> Relatively easy.
>>     More specifically, is there a published interface for
>>     making database calls to retrieve test score and test
>>     summary from Lon Capa?
> You can access them through XML and &EXT() calls. Basically, you  
> write a dynamic web page with embedded database calls and publish it.  
> We have done that in the past, but it's a custom-job: you need to  
> know exactly what's in your test, and where, and then you can  
> retrieve the values. Others on this list may have example XML files.
It will be greatly appreciated if someone can send us some example
XML files illustrating such database calls.

Does Lon Capa have a stable, published and committed interface for 
making such database calls? Or is it just whatever is being offered by 
and documented inside the relevant perl modules (such as grades.pm)? 
How likely would it be for such calls to "break" later if, say, one of 
the perl modules gets a major upgrade or overhaul down the road?

>>    (b) users who are not in the class list via "on-the-fly" online
>>        registration (Emailing username and initial password to the
>>        registered user)?
> The next version LON-CAPA is going to have a self-enrollment  
> interface. The users would then actually become part of a class, and  
> the functionality would be the same as a).
Great news! When would it be available? If it would be available
within, say, the next couple of months, it would be kind of wasteful
for us to write our own utilities to register users on the fly and 
enroll them into a class list.

>> Q2. How hard would it be to achieve these features in a NON-login
>>    environment?
> Currently, I don't see a way to do this. See http://www.lon-capa.org/ 
> demo.html for a non-login environment. You can do the problems, but  
> when you leave them and come back, the values are gone.
>>    More specifically, other than "cookies", are there other  
>> technologies
>>    available to obtain feature (1) above? Even with "cookies", how
>>    would you rate the programming difficulty for a programmer who  
>> knows
>>    the basics of perl and web page scripting?
> One would need to build on the mechanism used for http://www.lon- 
> capa.org/demo.html and make it less forgetful. I am currently not  
> sure what's involved. My recommendation would be the self-enrollment  
> mechanism ... would that do the trick?
Yes, a self-enrollment/registration mechanism, if available, would 
certainly simplify much of our tasks, I think; if is already taken
care of, the remaining major thing for us to learn would be making 
database calls to retrieve a grade for a particular user within an
XML context.


Amos Lee
Department of Math & Stats
University of Saskatchewan

> - Gerd.
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