[LON-CAPA-users] CourseWeaver? Feedback needed!

P. David Flammer pflammer at mines.edu
Mon Jan 14 18:42:50 EST 2013

I think CSM Physics "likes" the loncapa spreadsheets, outside of the
slowness. We certainly use it a lot. If the performance issue could be
solved, I would say they are perfect (even the documentation is pretty
good). Our courses are possibly small compared to many others, which may be
why we can use it.


-----Original Message-----
From: lon-capa-users-bounces at mail.lon-capa.org
[mailto:lon-capa-users-bounces at mail.lon-capa.org] On Behalf Of Gerd
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 1:37 PM
To: Discussion list for LON-CAPA users
Subject: Re: [LON-CAPA-users] CourseWeaver? Feedback needed!


On Jan 14, 2013, at 11:48 AM, P. David Flammer <pflammer at mines.edu> wrote:

> I would say that my biggest pet peeve in loncapa is the slowness of 
> data reads/writes. It looks like you're going to rebuild the database 
> (to a non-SQL database), so that appears like it will get fixed.

Yes, that's exactly the problem. The current architecture makes it very fast
and parallelized to read/write individual assessment data (which is the most
frequent kind of transaction in the system), but hard to pull together data
from across students and assessments.

> Even though the spreadsheet is on the discard list, I think it's quite 
> functional, other than the fact that it can take up to a minute to 
> generate a student's spreadsheet for a large course. I'm assuming this 
> has to do with how the data is stored, and once the database is 
> updated, it wouldn't be as bad. I think it would be a mistake to take 
> away spreadsheet-type functionality in place of an unprogrammable 
> gradebook, unless you mean to add some of the spreadsheet 
> functionality into the universal gradebook (like being able to weight
groups of folders differently in a final grade).

Yes, that's what was meant by "Ability to bundle scores into categories,"
which could then have different weights. But I realize that some instructor
have way more complicated things like "the best n out of N." I had looked
into that at


and even implemented a lot of that in LON-CAPA, but it turned out to be way
too slow because of the above data access issue and the fact that maps in
LON-CAPA (at least in principle) can be conditional and branching.

Having said that, I have not seen a single Course Management System where
faculty was happy with the grade book. Folks at Illinois once said they love
one of their grade books, but it turns out that it is individually
programmed in raw programming code for every course .

- Gerd.
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