[LON-CAPA-users] New Content/Problem Editor - Input needed NOW

Mills, Douglas G dmills at illinois.edu
Thu Oct 9 14:24:08 EDT 2014

HI Gerd,

For my part I consider working in the Edit XML environment much more
efficient than using the colorful editor. I do not mind the psychedelic
colors but making choices and reloading the page over and over again is
not nearly as efficient as working directly in the text-based code.
Whatever else comes along, I hope that the option of directly editing the
code is not removed. Even with AJAX so that the whole colorful editor page
does not have to reload again and again, it's still far less efficient, I
feel, to put text in distinct boxes.  When I have used the colorful
editor, it's been when I was learning or when I'm checking parameter names
or syntax -- doing a quick sample problem, setting the features or
parameters I want and then copying the relevant xml to work with.

I *do* see the need for what you are asking about -- a user-friendly
fill-in-the box, select-the-options type of interface that will help
people intimidated by code take the step of engaging with Lon-Capa. Not
reloading the page for every change is essential for that I think.  Also
perhaps streamlining. I know or am pretty sure that right now you can do
everything in the colorful editor that you can do just editing xml. Would
it be possible to identify the problem types and options that would meet
the needs of 80% of the users who come to the colorful editor and then
include other options under an "Advanced Options" tab or something?  If I
look at the "Insert" drop-down list, for example, it has a raft-load of
possibilities but I'd guess that most are not relevant to the average user
using the colorful editor and add to confusion/intimidation especially for
beginners.  Gerd, I'm always very impressed at your facility with the
colorful editor and can see that you quickly and efficiently can
accomplish anything from there. You're obviously not an average user :-)

The text there perhaps could provide more guidance -- if I'm using the
colorful editor, I don't need to know that I'm adding a "Block for After
Solved" -- I need, perhaps under the Advanced tab, an option to add
messages before the problem has been attempted, when it's been attempted
but wrong, when it's been answered correctly, any time before the due date
and after the due date. Maybe that's all grouped in a Messages category
where I click a checkbox for which type of message or messages I want to
add, a text box appears beneath, and I type in my message for each type
I'm adding.  Things like that I think would make it more user-friendly for
those who want that type of interface.

Usability study: you want to create a multiple choice question with
additional notes for after it's been answered correctly. How would you do
it?  You want to create a math problem that provides a range of random
values for the diameter of a circle and asks students to provide the area
of the circle within a tolerance of 2% and gives a reminder of the
appropriate formula to use after 2 incorrect attempts. How would you do
it? OR better yet, using data you may already have or results of a user
survey, identifying which tasks colorful editor users (or potential users)
or most apt to want to do and work from there.


Douglas Mills
Director of Instructional Technologies
Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
dmills at illinois.edu
(217) 244-5739

On 10/9/14, 12:09 PM, "Gerd Kortemeyer" <korte at lite.msu.edu> wrote:

>We are trying to figure out how the next generation content/problem
>editor should work, and we really need input.
>1) We notice that the colorful editor is not used very often. Apart from
>the psychedelic colors, why is that? What¹s the problem with it?
>2) Is there anything good about the colorful editor?
>3) We always hear ³WYSIWYG,² but when you really think about it, that¹s
>quite impossible: LON-CAPA problems have deep structure, and there is a
>lot that ³you do not see,² but that¹s important: parameters, scripts, Š
>how would ³WYSIWYG" look in this scenario?
>4) Think about the whole workflow of authoring problems: What is
>important? What do you need? How can the whole process of authoring be
>5) Do you know of any editor on the web that is approximately doing what
>we need? Some good design examples for us to look at?
>Anyway, please discuss on the list now. We do not have the developer
>capacity to allow us the luxury of going down the wrong track.
>- Gerd.
>LON-CAPA-users mailing list
>LON-CAPA-users at mail.lon-capa.org

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