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intro about equiz

Welcome to Equiz (V2)

Basic Explanation

Equiz consists of two parts: [1] a front-end website for simple class administration and [2] an algorithmic quizzing system.

1. A Front-End Website For Simple Class Administration:
Simple, yet powerful. Deliberately limited to the most common tasks:
  • posting messages to students,
  • posting syllabus, faqs, and old exams,
  • posting homeworks and collecting student answers,
  • posting equizzes and collecting student answers,
2. An Algorithmic E-Quizzer
Built into the websystem, an equiz is a set of questions that have different numbers each time they are redrawn. Importantly, these are not just pre-prepared for instructors (although some are), but instructors can easily alter or even write brand new equizzes of their own. A quick taste of an algorithmic equiz for the student is

How does one write such an equiz? In the starters directory, you can find the blackscholes.equiz source that you (the instructor) would have written to generate this.

The design of equiz is simple, yet flexible. You will be pleasantly surprised. It will take you about 30-60 minutes to learn everything. This is includes how to design your own equiz questions. It is not even clear if you are really better off reading more introduction below, including this description, or if you are better off just playing with an equiz website.

Each class should have its own subdomain site, e.g., http://econ101.johndoe.equiz.xyz. Each instructor can have multiple sites, each separate from all others. (Universities can create many subdomain sites.)

Students

The usage is completely intuitive and obvious. Explanation would only make it seem more complex.

Instructors

As an instructor, you first need to request an instructor account from ivo welch by email. Instructors have a lot more privileges (and thus can do a lot more harm) than students, so I need to be sure I am dealing with legitimate instructors and individuals who I can track down later.

Instructor Homepage

After you login as an instructor, you will see a page that lists the key activities available to you:

Post

which are messages posted by instructors to students, and appearing at the top of the student sites until they are clicked away. It is deliberate that students cannot post messages, either to the instructor or to each other.

Equizzes:

which contain algorithmically-created questions and answers that are randomly generated each time that an equiz is presented to a student, graded by the system, and answers explained to the student.

Homeworks:

which instructors post and students can later upload answers for (into a receptacle) until the due date (and time). The TAs can then download submitted student answers, grade them, and enter student grades. Warning: Watch your students' upload contents—they may contain viruses, just like any other files (e.g., in your email).

Files:

which contain auxiliary information, like the syllabus, the faq, old exams, etc.

The remaining buttons do not primarily communicate with students:

Students:

which is a place to see the list of students who have actively registered for your course. It also gives you the directlogincode of your students

Grades:

which is a place to see the equizzes that students have answered. If you entered homework grades, they will be in here, too. You can also download all the grades.

My Course:

which is all the information about your course. Most fields are public information for your students. Importantly, this page contains the "coursesecret". Anyone with the course secret can register themselves on equiz for your course.

My Bio:

which is information we need about you. Most fields remain private. We need a little extra info from you, in case we need to authenticate you, for example.

The next four buttons are more administrative:

Class Log:

which tells you the activities of your students.

My Log:

which reminds you what you did when (if only for security).

Help:

an FAQ.

Backup:

saves all your files to your hard drive, including grades. Do this often!

And then there is one giant important button that says

Morph Into Student

which allows you to see what your students see

The focus on the essentials in equiz is itself essential. It is simple and easy, for instructors, students, and programming maintenance. For a complete and complex course management system, try moodle instead.

Equizzes

The easiest way to start with an algorithmic equiz is with the tutorials. There are three tutorials:

  1. The plain tutorial.
  2. The explanatory tutorial.
  3. The advanced tutorial.

There are also starters to show off various features (such as more complex math) and begin a new equiz. I posted the language input for them here, but to run them, you would need to log in.

Start by clicking on "Copy Tutorials" and then on "run equiz". Easy? This is pretty much how equizzes appear to students. If you ran and read the quizzes, because of what they show off, you already have learned a lot about the syntax of writing quizzes. There is not much more to learn. After you understand the equiz student interface, you may want to edit one of these tutorial quizzes. To do so, click on "edit equiz." (Alternatively, click on "download", then use a text editor of your choice, save the quiz as ascii text (and not Microsoft Word), delete the existing equiz, and upload your changed equiz.) Make small changes, then save the equiz, and run it again. (You can also see how each individual question looks like by clicking on "run" beneath the question in the edit-equiz designer.)

Debugging: Always start with a quiz that you know works, and generalize it. When you run into trouble, remove all superfluous commands and instructions and whittle it down to the smallest case. If you are completely stymied, just delete the files and start from scratch with a set of tutorials or starters.

So, again, you can start with starters (a set of short working examples, covering everything from plain questions to Black-Scholes mathy questions).

When you are satisfied, click on "more". You need to publish your tasks if you want your students to see them. You can also assign a due date. Moreover, on this screen, you can also see all the student answers.

If you are not on the "play" but on the real site, you can also download the predefined quizzes for Ivo Welch's Corporate Finance textbook.

Advice: Don't put too many questions into a single equiz. Instead, create multiple quizzes, each no more than 10-15 minutes long. Remember that your students cannot save the state of their quiz and return the following day. It also reduces student frustration if they hit "refresh" by accident.

Warning: You cannot delete quizzes if you have student answers. You would first need to remove these student answers, which you can do on the more screen. Alternatively, you can just unpublish your quiz, so only you but not your students can see it.

Homeworks

Homeworks are like equizzes, in that an instructor posts them and collects student answers. Unlike equizzes, homeworks need to be downloaded by the instructor (or TA) and graded. The student scores can be entered for storage and later collection. They are not disclosed to the students. Note that there are many cases in which you will prefer to mark up student homeworks, in which case you don't want to do this on-line, but print out student answers, mark them up with grades, and return them to your students.

Student-List and Student-Grades

On this page, you can collect the assigned grades in one place. You can also upload a list of student emails with registrar id's if you have them.

When?

We offer a quasi-open equiz site in test for edu email addresses. This is a virtual machine that we will destroy every other week or so. This may make it easier for you to test the feature set. Instructors are read-only in this testsite.

If you are an instructor, you can also request your very own fully functional test site account [with or without the corporate finance quizzes (which are not public)]. In this case, I need your (edu) email address and a 14 character preferred sitename (I suggest courseid.name (e.g., 430.iwelch) , but the two together must not be longer than 15 characters).

In Winter 2016, I was using equiz.xyz in my first (Anderson UCLA) finance classes. It is now live. In 2016-7, we plan to create more equizzes for many more courses.

Feedback, esp. security related, is very welcome. Please email ivo.welch@gmail.com.