Saturday, April 14, 2012

Examview Pro Into the Next Curriculum

About a year or two ago I was fortunate enough to watch someone demonstrate Examview Pro software and in particular the test generator part of the suite of products. I must say that at the time I was not overly impressed as it did not seem that much different than what we were already doing with Microsoft Word, MathType, Efofex draw, etc... So, not having the motivation to dig too deep, and assuming the presenters knew a great deal about the software, I left it on the shelf.

Then about three weeks ago a colleague of mine was showing me the latest data bank of math questions from McGraw Hill for the new WNCP courses that we have begun to implement in our province. The data bank uses Examview Pro. But this time I took notice. The authors of the data bank, in their infinite wisdom, had created the questions to be dynamic... meaning the questions would be unique once the values were changed (with a simple recalculation). What I seen was the ability to generate an infinite number of questions, based on the construction of a single, well planned, dynamic question type. Wow!

Assignments unique to each student... easy to do... tests... easy too... retests... not a problem. Homework sheets/practice... as many as the students would like to do. All easy to do once the questions are created dynamically.

So Easter holidays I decided to tackle two areas of questions... right angle trig and circle geometry. In creating these types of dynamic questions, the key was to create the questions using coordinate geometry knowledge. Angles were created from vertices or points that changed dynamically, with segment lengths determined with the distance formula and angles determined using trig ratios/sine and cosine laws. It was far simpler than I could have imagined. Furthermore word problems can be dynamic with the use of strings. Just amazing!

I can only imagine where I would be with Examview Pro today if I had not and incorrectly assumed the presenters knew the software well. However all is far from lost. With the new curriculum quickly coming on stream, now is an ideal time to begin the switch away from static documents in Microsoft Word to dynamic ones in Examview Pro.

Now the next step... getting all this to work inside Desire2Learn for online testing. I think I have that nailed down too. But that is for a much later blog post.

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