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Draft version of documentation for identifying the current export/import capabilities for Samigo.

General Import/Export Information

Samigo (Tests & Quizzes) allows for the import and export of QTI-compliant files within Samigo. This function allows faculty and other uses to create and share assessments and potentially, question pools.*

The following Import/Export features are available in Sakai/Samigo v2.1.x - 2.4

Samigo's import/export processes currently conforms to IMS Question & Test Interoperability (QTI) Specification v1.2. This is an XML format built around ASI data objects - Assessment/Section/Item structures. You can generally identify a QTI v1.2 file by the <questioninterop> root element. If you're familiar with this standard from another system, you may be wondering "#Why don't My QTI files import into Sakai?"

*Import question pool is pending release in Samigo v2.4 and is available as a patch for v2.1.x and v2.3.x at collab Jira SAK-6697

Export Assessment

Samigo users may export an assessment to share with another user or to import into another site. When the user selects the Export option from a Core Assessment, a new window is generated.

To export successfully, the user should press the Download button. The window will update to display the export XML content as shown below. Note: In Safari, the user may simply see text on the screen. The user should then select File, and Save Page As (or Save As). If "exportAssessment.xml" is shown as the file name in the Save As screen, the export is successful. Save this file to your local machine.

In some cases, invalid XML prevents the export from being properly formed. This is easy to detect by viewing the XML file in your browser - if you can see the closing </questioninterop> tag at the end, then the export file is well-formed and importable.
Issues with invalid XML exports generally arise from HTML issues in the text editor content, e.g., unclosed tags, mismatched case in tags <P></p>, or with special character issues. These problems were corrected in v2.3 over several Jira fixes by wrapping CDATA around user-generated text output.
A patch for the CDATA fix in v2-1-x is in testing at UC Davis pending release to collab in November.

An exported assessment may be shared with other sites or faculty or imported as a question pool, if that feature is available in your Samigo version. At this time, the assessment export format is only compatible for import by Samigo.

Import Question Pool

The import question pool feature mirrors the functionality in import assessment both in the UI and in backend functionality.

The decision to use the same ASI structure was based on migration samples form other systems, primarily Respondus and Blackboard. Although specifications for QTI v1.2 and QTI 2.1 public draft refer to objectbank and itembank respectively, neither standard appears to be used in the real world. In addition, by using the same structure for question pool import as assessment, the same updates and fixes for questions apply to both. Also, an exported assessment or question pool may be imported as either an assessment or question pool, giving more flexibility to Samigo.

Single Section Import Limitation

Be aware that current code limits imports only single-section assessments/pools into question pool. A multi-section import will not cause an error message, but will simply import the 'pool' information without the questions themselves. A planned code upgrades will elicit a message to the user to notify them of why the import failed and prevent the creation of an empty pool. SAK-7262
Future code development will focus on the best method for exporting and importing pools with one or more subpools.

Pool Parameter Import Limitation

Currently, the only pool parameter imported is pool name (title). Because assessments and pools use different parameters and this is a first-release feature, the other parameters like description and department/group cannot be imported. When an export pool feature is added, those parameters will be activated for import as well.

UC Davis responded to the need to import question pools through the UI based on faculty request during our pilot series. There are 2 key functions that this feature provides to users:

  1. Migration:
    1. Faculty are exporting quizzes from our local course management system and want to import into Samigo as question pools so that they can create one or more quizzes from their older content. The limitations of only being able to import as an assessment, and then having to copy one question at a time to a pool was not acceptable.
    2. One faculty member received a set of XML files from a publisher to allow her to quiz from the book material she uses in her course. The 18 files contained a total of over 3300 questions. Importing each file and then copying one question at a time to a pool was unacceptable.
  2. Pool Sharing:
    1. Some faculty have TA's working with them to compose testing materials for their courses. Since the current limitations of pool sharing, where each individual can see and access only their own pool, instructors were contacting system admins to change ownership via the database. Once changed, the TA could make no further changes to the material. Not an optimal solution.
    2. Some departments and/or faculty share material across courses or the department, for multiple-section multiple-instructor courses or for course surveys. A method for easy sharing of question pool content would go a long way towards making sharing possible.
    3. Caution: this option does NOT solve the sharing issue as each user's pool may evolve with time. Of course, you can export your pool to share your latest updates with someone else.

Test Results/Issues

Oct./Nov. 2006: I conducted testing to determine any functional issues with a large volume of question pools and/or importing a pool with a large volume of questions. Here are some of the results:

  • Import of 1090 question pool took about 1 minute
  • It took about 1 minute to open the qpool in either Firefox or IE
  • In Firefox, the screen generates 2 slidebars requiring the user to move each bar separately to get to the end of the list
  • Both browsers appear to display only 954 questions - not the full 1090 listed
  • Viewing a question in Preview or Modify took about 10 seconds
  • The Import question pool function slows as more pools/more high-volume pools are imported
  • Process to delete 1090 question pool took 2+ minutes
  • Opening a 545 question pool took about 30 seconds
  • It takes about 13 seconds to open the QP list with 2 qpools - 42 and 545 questions
  • It took about 52 seconds to import a second 545 question pool to add to the two previous files
  • It took 20 secs to get to the copy menu and 1 minute to copy a 545 question pool
  • Deleting 50 random questions from 545 pool - 35 seconds to check screen/22 seconds to delete

There were no problems importing or deleting pools. All the problems I encountered were performanced based. The larger the pools or number of pools, the slower it took to open a new screen or run a process.

Much of the performance appears linked to building and displaying the pool tree. Some screens which should not be affected, such as going to the import pool screen, took up to a minute because of this process. I'd like to look at how the pool tree process might be excluded where it's not needed and optimized where it is needed.
Performance results may vary based on the system and sakai version you're on.

Please comment on and communicate about your experiences with this new feature.

Available Versions

Import question pool feature is added and pending release in v2.4
A patch is released in Jira under SAK-6697 at http://bugs.sakaiproject.org/jira/browse/SAK-6697 for v2-1-x and v2.3.x.
Additional version patches may be added based on community request.

Export Question Pool

There is a current method for exporting a question pool, but it is a work around.
As noted in Jira SAK-2005, exporting an assessment with a question drawn from a question pool will export all the question from that pool.

Export Question Pool Work Around
  1. Create a new assessment.
  2. Do not add a question, but select Modify for Part
  3. On the Add/Modify Part screen, select Random draw from question pool
  4. Enter a value in Number of questions, an integer between 1 and the total number of questions, inclusive.
  5. Export the assessment which now contains all the questions from the selected pool.

Why don't My QTI files import into Sakai?

Also known as importing from systems other than Sakai.

Since other cms systems, like Respondus and BlackBoard, implement IMS QTI 1.2 standards, XML exports from these systems should successfully import into Sakai. Mark Norton demoed a Common Cartridge import in 2006 which, while succeeding in entering the questions, did not format them properly and lost some of the question data.

The reason is that most of these systems have application-specific metadata naming conventions which do not translate from other systems.

For example, in the following XML node examples for the answers associated with a multiple choice single correct response question, the naming convention in Samigo is used to indicate the question type.

Samigo: <response_lid ident="MCSC" rcardinality="Single" rtiming="No">

Respondus: <response_lid ident="QUE_1004_RL" rcardinality="Single" rtiming="No">

In cases where Samigo cannot determine the question type, those questions are defaulted to essay/paragraph question type. This difference in naming convention exists across systems due to difering interpretation of IMS QTI standards. Respondus was successful at being able to export in multiple system because they studied the various system requirements and translate to those requirements on export.

For more information about import/export test results for Respondus, see Gap analysis between Samigo and Respondus question types and file formats

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