A Vision of Students Today

I am going to EDUCAUSE in Seattle next week and some of the sessions I am most looking forward to are the ones based on student data. What technologies are they actually using? Which do they find beneficial and which are over hyped? Most importantly, which ones do they want us to use?

Today I came across a video called “A Vision of Students Today” (via OUseful). It was created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University. The video is a snapshot of 200 students in a Cultural Anthropology course and;

summarizes some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime.

It’s well done and powerful.

Interesting note that the end of the video seems to hint at something that Scott Leslie recently blogged about regarding the power of live and in person social learning. But the slightly ironic twist here is that the project was done using Google Docs and posted to YouTube, a couple of educational technology poster children applications. The point being that technology is never the end all or be all when it comes to effective teaching and learning. It is simply another tool in an educators arsenal. I look forward to the “…to be continued” piece.


Pearson's TestGen doesn't play well with Desire2Learn

This is a pretty specific post aimed at the poor D2L admins who, like me, have spent hours trying to work around a very granular and specific issue. Hopefully Google has led you here in your quest for a fix for this problem and that this will work for you.

A number of our faculty use tests created using TestGen, a Respondus-like test creation software package created by Pearson Education. We have been running into problems exporting multiple choice quizzes from WebCT 4.1 CE to Desire2Learn. The questions were exporting from WebCT 4.1 CE to Desire2Learn fine, but the correct answers were not.

After troubleshooting and hunting around, we discovered that the common thread for these multiple choice questions was that they were all originally created in TestGen and then imported into WebCT. When we exported the courses from WebCT as a WebCt 6.0 package, the xml file spit out by WebCT contained an error. A value variable for the correct answer to a multiple choice question gets incorrectly set to 0 when it should be 100.

Here’s what we did to fix the problem. It’s cumbersome, but it works. The obvious fix would be for Pearson to add a D2L export to their list of supported formats for TestGen. We’ve asked for that and hopefully that is in the works. But for now, this workaround has had to suffice.

  • Export the questions from TestGen in WebCT 4 format.
  • In WebCT, create a blank course. Import the quiz questions into WebCT.
  • Create a blank test in WebCT. We discovered that WebCT wouldn’t export any questions in the database unless at least one quiz was defined. So we created a dummy quiz with no questions in it.
  • Export the entire course as a WebCT 6.0 course.
  • Unzip the exported package.
  • In the course folder in the IMS package, find a file called questionDB.xml. Open that with your favorite XML or text editor capable of doing a find and replace. Search for these 2 lines of code:
    <setvar varname="que_score" action="Set">0</setvar>

    <setvar varname="answerValue" action="Add">100</setvar>
    and replace with:
    setvar varname="que_score" action="Set">100</setvar>
    <setvar varname="answerValue" action="Add">100</setvar>
  • You will have to make this change to each of the MC questions in the file, hence the ability to do a find and replace is essential when you are dealing with hundreds, or even thousands, of values.
  • Rezip the package.
  • Upload to D2L as a component. Choose to only upload the question library and you are off.

This fix is also documented in the D2L community (login required) in the Discussions > Product Management and Enhancements > Quizzes area. The fix was discovered by Rafi Syed.