Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rebuilding online tests in a new platform

In my last post, I whined about having to migrate my online tests from our colleges old LMS system (Blackboard CE / WebCT 4) to our new platform (Moodle).  Using both Moodle's migration tools and those of our vendor (Moodle Rooms), I found that my online tests "broke" when migrated to the new system.

As I've mentioned here before, I provide huge randomized test banks in my courses to produce an almost endless variety of different versions of my online tests. So when my test files broke, it was a big problem. Tens of thousands of items might have to be re-entered.  Hundreds of image files would have to be reuploaded into some of those test items.

Luckily, I found that I had the solution already in hand!  Thanks to the advice of faculty in my department many years ago, I had always constructed my online tests in Respondus before uploading them to Blackboard CE / WebCT 4.

Respondus is a third-party software program that allows you to quickly upload text files of tests or quickly create new test files.  Because Respondus is easier to use than WebCT's native test editor, all my test files already existed in my archive as Respondus files. 

Respondus has a nice feature that allows you to select which platform you want to use for your test . . . WebCT, Blackboard, Angel . . . and Moodle.  So what many of our folks (mainly our hardworking LMS support team) are doing now is opening my WebCT tests in Respondus, toggling the platform to "Moodle" and letting Respondus convert my tests files. 

Because Moodle handles test items and settings a bit differently than WebCT, we still have to check everything after the conversion and make a few adjustments. But this is a heck of a lot better than completely rebuilding my test bank!

In my case, I build my tests and quizzes in Respondus first.  Before uploading them to the LMS.  But if you've never used Respondus before, that's no problem.  The program has a feature that allows you to download your tests from any standard LMS to create a Respondus file.  Then you convert that file to a different LMS format, check it and tweak it, then upload it to your new LMS.

I'd rather be at the circus than doing this.  But it sure beats completely rebuilding everything from scratch.

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