Friday, 7 March 2008

DUMP 2.0 Milestone 1 Reached!

The first milestone in the development work for DUMP 2.0 has just been completed. As promised in an earlier posting, we have added a number of new formats for exporting bundles of material from DUMP. (DUMP also now supports exporting single questions!)

So what's new then? Well, we now support exporting bundles of questions in the following formats:
  • Self-contained web bundle: This is a ZIP file containing a number of web pages that you can unpack into your own web space, or within a VLE. It contains a number of entry points that you can use to use your Questions on the web in a number of different ways. This content is completely self-contained and manages all of the question interactions automatically so is a great option if you want to deliver some formative assessment questions but don't have any kind of assessment engine available. The web content uses MathML for displaying MathML in browsers which support this, automatically falling back to "maths as images" for other browsers as necessary.
  • Printed PDF Format: This is a simple PDF listing of your questions, with options to have the correct answer highlighted and to show the feedback for each answer. There are also some limited customisation options available.
  • QTI 2.1: We now support exporting a bundle of Questions in the latest (draft) version of the Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) specification. Each Question is exported as a separate QTI document and bundled up as an IMS Content Package (v1.1.3). Options exist for including Mathematics as either (really nice) MathML, (quite nice) transparent PNG or (not at all nice) opaque GIF images, and feedback can be included or excluded as required. We decided to support multiple graphic formats in the event that the questions are used in web-based systems on older versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, which needs a "hack" to support transparent PNGs that may not be feasible in some assessment engines. We can also output the slightly older QTI 2.0 specification as well.
  • QTI 1.2: We also support exporting a bundle of Questions in this older (but still very popular) version of QTI. Again, each Question is exported as a separate QTI document and bundled up as an IMS Content Package. QTI 1.2 does not support MathML so all mathematics is converted to images (either transparent PNG or opaque GIF) on export.
  • Respondus Import: We are pleased to announce that it is now possible to export questions in a ZIP file that can be subsequently imported into Respondus. Beneath the hood, this is just a modified version of the QTI 1.2 export but includes a number of tweaks required for Respondus to handle it correctly. Once into Respondus, it is then easy to import the questions into other systems, such as WebCT.
This work is currently a bit rough - I have just shoe-horned these new features into the existing DUMP web interface. This will be tidied up for the next milestone, which I anticipate being given a public release. If you are a DUMP user and would like a quick look at DUMP 2.0M1, drop me an email and I'll tell you how you can get access!