Saturday, November 3, 2012

Respondus and Examview... Advantages & Disadvantages With Respect to Desire2Learn

Just this week I was asked to write a blurb on question sets created using Examview and those created with Respondus. It got me thinking about a blog post outlining what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of using both with Desire2Learn (D2L).

Let me preface what I am about to write by saying that the main two question types that I want to ensure work inside D2L are Multiple Choice (Selected Response) and Long Answer (Constructive Response) questions. In addition I want to ensure that the rationale or solutions are visible for students after completion of online work. These are the only two types of questions that students will see on our standardized tests in math so I want to ensure they work.

So with that said let me take you through the advantages and disadvantages of using Respondus first, followed by Examview.

When I first started with distance education, our Learning Management System (LMS) was WebCt. At that time we were using Respondus for creating online evaluation instruments. It's a good tool. Its advantage is that it is built to allow all its question types to work within Desire2Learn. In addition you can create question sets, create the appropriate settings, release conditions, etc... and publish directly to a D2L server. Very powerful and convenient.

From a math perspective, the biggest disadvantage is that the creation of graphs, etc... need to be created with an alternate software package. Another disadvantage is the ability to easily replicate a core item to create similar items. There is a variable feature within an Arithmetic question type within Respondus but its dynamic capabilities are limited. As a result, a teacher would have to copy and paste a Respondus question, change all values, text, graphics, etc... manually to create unique questions from a core item. This is very time consuming but quite doable.

If you have been reading my previous blog posts you will know that I have been putting a great of time into Examview as it relates to D2L. The greatest disadvantage with using Examview is that it does not have an export to D2L zip file option and, unlike Respondus, cannot publish online evaluation instruments directly to a D2L server. While all Respondus question types with rationale/feedback load successfully in D2L, the only question type that I have been able to get working successfully from Examview to D2L is the Multiple Choice question. And that only works if we export as a zip file designed to work with a Blackboard LMS. It almost sounds like that Respondus should be the tool of choice.

Remember I mentioned that I was primarily concerned with multiple choice and long answer questions? Well I can make an Examview multiple choice question look like a long answer question in D2L by simply limiting the amount of multiple choice possibilities to two and typing instructions into the space where the answer and distractors would be and voila... a long answer question with rationale is possible with Examview inside D2L.

So what is the advantage of using Examview versus Respondus. The answer lies in the user interface of Examview and the dynamic capabilities. To put it simply... math questions are easier to construct within Examview. ExamView needs no other software to create graphs. That alone is a big advantage. However the biggest advantage of Examview in comparison to Respondus is in its ability to create new questions from core items. In Examview, a question can be created to be dynamic. This basically means that text, images, numerical values, functions, graphs, etc... can all change with the click of a button. When these questions are duplicated (copy/paste) the question is unique when compared to the one it was duplicated from. With the right question, up to 250 unique questions can automatically and nearly instantaneously be created from one core item. In terms of being able to rapidly create question sets with numerous random choices, this is a huge advantage when compared to Respondus.

For Examview to be the ideal tool for me it must have an export to D2L zip file option, one which allows for many question types to work successfully... rationale or solution key included. Preferably Examview should be able to publish directly to a D2L server... but the zip file option works fine.

For Respondus to become my tool of choice it needs to improve its user interface to be friendlier... especially from a math perspective. In addition it needs to have much greater and robust dynamic question capabilities than exist now.

At this point in time I will be moving forward with Examview despite its limitations within D2L.

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