Online Testing – Generating Unique Tests per Student

Most online learning management systems have quiz creation tools with unique settings on them to insure unique test generations per student; consequently, online teachers can deliver unique instances of their tests or quizzes to their students so that cheating possibilities are limited.  These capabilities are allowing instructors to rethink the test taking time in more traditional settings also and many teachers in hybrid and on campus courses are beginning to set up quizzes and tests for remote test taking too.  If you are planning upon implementing this strategy in your course, make sure that you implement some of the most common settings of your quiz tool in your course management system.

One important feature setting is simply time.  Setting the timer for a student who takes your test is important.  By limiting the time a student may be involved with your test, you are forcing the student to be well prepared with the knowledge prior to taking your test.  Do not be lenient with this time as you can make exceptions for individual needs by allowing special access for an individual or letting another individual retake the test if needed.

Additionally most learning management systems allow you to randomize quiz question answers and quiz question order.  Because these systems just need you to specify a correct answer, you can manipulate the test engine to produce a random order of questions and a random order of question answers per question of an individualized student test.  For example, student A could have question 1 with answer B as correct, but student B would have that same question appear as question 9 with answer C as correct.  The power of computing gets harnessed when these settings are applied, and students will have to concentrate upon their own test and own test answers instead of their friend’s test.

Furthermore most course management system quiz tools are allowing you to take a set of questions from a pool of questions.  Which means that you are able to create unique sets of questions based upon many questions of the same value.  Many teachers are combining textbook questions with their own personalized questions and they are finding that they have too many questions for a test.  Consequently, if valued properly a teacher could have the computer select a set of questions from that pool of questions.  For example, two students could receive different questions or some partially different questions on a test instance that selects ten questions from a pool of twenty questions.

With all of the above solutions applied, you can begin to see how a test could be unique per student.  A student could have a unique set of questions in a unique order with unique answer orders that have to be completed in a limited amount of time.  Thus eliminating reasons for students to even try to collaborate on your exam because there are too many factors that would create false or antiproductive cheating scenarios.  For further information or more detailed examples please feel free to email me directly upon this topic.  I like the way computer science can be applied to test questions, tests, and test settings to create a unique environment that gets graded automatically.

Next time, I will discuss creating unique projects for your students to lower the chances of cheating.  It is all in the language that you use, the expectations that you created, and the objectives of the assignment.

Moodle Account Manipulation

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a United States federal law that applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age.  While children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents’ permission, there are responsibilities and rights to which an organization or individual must adhere.  There are also state laws that cloud minded educators should review to make sure that when they are collecting sensitive data from students via course management systems that they are following important rules to keep the students safe.  With all of this in mind, I am writing today to share some ways to manipulate account information in Moodle so that you can protect the identities of your users for whatever reason you might have to do that.For me, a Moodle contract ran out with a K-12 educational client last year, and as the new year approached I found it important to protect their identities as I would no longer be working directly with the organization or the school.  This called for some account manipulation in Moodle by downloading student data to a spreadsheet, manipulating that data to erase identities and create anonymous ones, and uploading that data to maintain integrity in the system. The process essentially erased and replaced student names, emails, logins, and passwords while maintaining data integrity for future endeavors and any reference as needed.  While Moodle is very secure about keeping students identities safe, I felt it an obligation to complete this process.

These were global solutions that did not need individual resetting of the 400+ accounts, and I have some detailed notes that I could share with you if you need to understand what I did or how it was performed.  The biggest trick was manipulating the data with a spreadsheet program, but I can share that with you at a later date or by email to matt@mattmoore.net.  In fact, these are some of the solutions that Absolutely Learning can provide for you.

Well, I am glad to proudly write that the Absolutely Learning is truly concerned about protecting the identities of children in a K12 setting and that Absolutely Learning backs up that concern with a clear plan that was tested and implemented.  Contact Absolutely Learning today if you need help with all your Moodle concerns and needs.

Still Moodling on Down the Road

Well, I knew one day it would come to my professor’s attention that I had graduated from my master’s program in 2006, and that I probably should not have any more control or access to post to his game design class site. Oh well, I did enjoy that class, and it was well worth the time invested as it was in that class that I learned to create good design goals, solid outcome statements for my students, a clear plan of attack, and the ability to reevaluate a plan in need of change. But I guess since I voted for Sen. John McCain in the last election that I just simply pushed him over the edge, and he had to drop me.

Anyhoo, I have still been moodling this year with a fairly successful campaign in all my classes for my students. I am currently teaching middle and upper school students at a private day school in Los Angeles, and I am learning a new environment. Moodle has been a constant for me though, and I have to admit my students are glad to know what they have missed, what their grade is, how they can do their assignments on line, how they can communicate with me, and what the goals and objectives are and were of past assignments so they can review past skills, concepts, facts, and procedures. In fact, some of my students’ schedules are so busy that they have to do some of the work on line. The parents too are appreciating the clear feedback and quick access. Perhaps I might have time to share some trials and tribulations with Moodle in the future at a conference or at your school, but of course I would need a little encouragement and feedback before I jump off that cliff.

Web Based Project Management Software

Our school serves several learning centers in geographically disperse locations throughout Riverside County. In order to meet a variety of educational and administrative needs, we have implemented two learning management systems. We use Moodle for assignments and grades, and Breeze for live communication and specialized live teaching and training needs. Of course, we also use our web site as a resource to distribute static content and information.

Because these programs have been very successful, we are proposing to implement another web-based software to help manage our information technology and facilities projects. After researching products from the open source community, we decided to propose “dot project” which runs on the popular LAMP platform. After some tailored modifications to the code and database settings, we have a user-friendly web based project manager that provides a simple interface for administrators to view projects, add new projects, and see current states of projects. This open source software also gives us (the IT and facilities department) a complex database for creating vendor lists, budgets, calendars, reports, and tasks associated with those projects.

Once again, I am confident to report that open source freeware is stable, reliable, innovative, interactive, and highly customizable. Therefore, I will continue to research open-source software prior to buying software from commerical vendors because free is nice. I am also going to continue to support the open-source movement by directing funds to their projects whenever our budget makes that possible. The open source collaboration is everywhere, and in most fields the open source community is trying to create something of high value that can be distributed at low or no cost. These applications provide a very professional launching point for creating interactive projects that take advantage of web 2.0.

If you would like to learn more about how we will implement dot project, or have implemented Moodle and Breeze, please post a comment or email me directly.

Matt
Learning Systems Manager

Yes, I am not an expert.

Open-Source Software is a lot like a Gingerbread House Kit


Three nights ago, my son and I had another learning adventure that we would like to tell you about, and while I did not record the learning moment in a podcast format, I am going to try to describe it for both Dads and educational technologists. You see, my son and I found the Gingerbread House Kit that my wife had purchased from Michael’s. Being curious and craft oriented this Christmas season, we decided to start building it. In about an hour we had a pretty decent Gingerbread house, but we had run out of icing and candies.

Last night, my son and I continued our adventure by purchasing a Christmas tree, a bird house to decorate for my Mom, and more icing and candies. When we got back we made that Gingerbread house the best you have ever seen (see photo), and we were even thinking about entering it in contests. In short, we were able to take a basic kit and elaborate upon that until we found something that we both really liked.

So how does this relate to Open-Source software?

For me, it is the ability to build something quickly and tailor it for your specific needs quickly. There are tons of open-source applications that you can download for free and use on your educational web site to give it more function such as learning management systems, grade books, and blogs. Because most are also distributed so that you can edit them for more specific tasks, you can make your web site a fancy gingerbread house that everyone will like. I think this is why I like the open-source movement so much. It provides a quick platform which can be edited personally for any organization’s needs.

Moodle : Top Ten Reasons to use Moodle for your Students


Course management systems are on-line platforms that assist teachers with managing a variety of teaching tasks via the web. Moodle, an OpenSource software module that is freely distributed by its creator for educators, is a dynamic course management system that follows an intense rapid prototyping process. Because I have been using Moodle for several years, am currently training others how to use it, develop code for it, create designs for it, and support technical questions surrounding it, I wanted to share with you some thoughts about it. The following list is simply a top ten list of why I think you should use Moodle for your students.

1. Moodle provides a very organized web-based interface so that you can provide students with content that comes in the form of links, uploaded files, easily created web pages, and content organizers. You can upload most types of files such as graphics, documents, PowerPoints, animations, or you can create links to valuable resources on the web. This common web-based delivery method allows students to access course materials anytime and anywhere.

2. Moodle automatically creates an account for each student. Within this student account, a student can manage their profile, view their own activity reports, and see graded feedback from their teachers. Teachers can view all the accounts in their gradebook and view activity reports from each student or by completed activity.

3. Moodle provides an on-line assessment tool that allows you to post grades in numerical, commented, and rubric format so that each student can see his or her individual assessments.

4. Moodle allows more than one teacher to manage a course, and it allows teachers to share course content between courses. Those courses can even be saved and exported at the end of the term for use the following term.

5. Communication in Moodle is awesome. Students can send messages via the message system, add to forums via the bulletin board system, and they can chat in safe teacher monitored and script reviewed chat rooms. Students can even have Moodle email them on individual updates to an external email account.

6. Glossaries can be created for complex course vocabularies. Students submit terms with definitions and sample contextual sentences that can be searched by everyone after the teacher reviews them for accuracy.

7. Branching stories and lessons can be created that have links to pages for review or advancement.

8. Moodle provides a quiz format that is automatically graded and automatically inserted into the course grade book. These quizzes can be declared as practice quizzes or real quizzes and have a variety of characteristics. Students can also take surveys and give feedback to the course via the feedback forms. The data features in Moodle are highly advanced and will continue to grow.

9. Teachers can comment verbally upon a student’s comments so that writing, editing remarks, and other verbal assessments can be placed upon the student’s work and saved for future reference when writing yearly reports.

10. A group of highly adept programmers are working to make Moodle better for you everyday. Teacher requests and designs are incorporated everyday into the next design which is published almost daily.

Moodle provides a whole host of other activities, resources, organizational possibilities, and communication methods for you and your students, and it is easy to tailor these modules in the user friendly web based authoring environment. If you would like to learn more about Moodle, I have a course at my web site that I would be more than happy to let you see. Just send me an email for the enrollment key or any other questions that you may have about Moodle