Apologies for the tags in the above post, which the preview facility seems to have included in my "plain text": maybe a moderator can strip them out? Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to edit my initial post, only this comment!
I think we are experiencing a similar "upgrade shock" to that described above: the new question repository appears to be a massive step backwards when pointed at our day-to-day use cases. First a very quick history: we've been using Maple T.A. 2.5 with Blackboard (via the building block) for around four years now, and finally pushed the button and deployed Maple T.A. 5 yesterday (version 5.01 plus some hot fixes). The old version is *gone*, so I'm really hoping that what we are experiencing is reflecting our inexperience with the new version.
A typical use case for us is as follows: write a question bank using latex so that the structure (name of the question bank and topics within that question bank) reflect the structure of the corresponding assignment: the order of the topics also reflects the order of questions within the assignment. So there might be 20 topics, each containing two to four questions on a particular area, and an assignment would randomly select one of the two to four questions from within each topic. We have a number of such latex files (and the qu files post translation), and many other similarly structured but shorter question banks.
Cutting to the chase: importing such a qu file into Maple T.A. 5 and trying to create the corresponding assignment (which was previously a five second job) looks to be something of a clickety-click nightmare. The assignment editor *does* show the topic names in the left column, but they appear to be almost completely ignored: upon selecting a topic/group and "Add as Group" the name is bizarrely abandoned -- so a topic isn't really being translated to a group at all?
What we really wish to do here is add all topics at once, with each topic turning into a "group" within the assignment: a first attempt at achieving this requires clicking 20 times (no "select all", even given that there's an overarching "supergroup": clicking the check box by the question bank's name apparently does nothing?). Unfortunately, having performed 20 clicks, using "Add as Group" does not add each topic as its own group, but instead flattens everything out to produce one giant group containing all of the questions in all of the topics.
OK, so back to the drawing board: let's back up and try to add a single topic as a group, and accept the default name Maple T.A. provides ("Question Group": not very helpful...). Then go to the next one, and get Maple T.A. to again provide the name. And, lo and behold, it chooses "Question Group" again. Other circumstances seemed to cause the concatenation of the list of questions from the two topics.
So --to achieve what we are seeking here-- the poor old assignment evidently must select a topic on the left, select the name of the topic, copy that name into the "group name" field and then select "add as group". Twenty times over!
Even after completing this process top to bottom the resulting list of questions in the assignment in the right column will be sorted in the reverse of the natural order in which you would go about it: in working top to bottom on the left the topics will be added bottom to top into the assignment. All this palaver to recreate a structure that's staring the user in the face! The contrast with the process of setting the same assignment in Maple T.A. 2.5 is as stark as it could be: click once to select all topics, and then click "add as group".
Please pardon the length and somewhat exasperated tone of this post: I'm still (slightly!) hopeful that I'm missing something obvious here... Any pointers or workarounds would be most welcome. Indeed, I'd love to eat some humble pie: anyone have something baking?
Thanks for reading,
thanks for the reply, but I've not explained what I'm seeking very well. What I am after is a way to use the username **as a variable in a test question**. The idea being that we can set a question that's individualised in a predictable and unique (within each class) manner. Think, say, of a (silly) question that reads...
Enter the residue (mod 25) of the sum of the ascii values in your Maple T.A. username, which is $username.
The answer is calculated as a function of the user's username.
Why do we want such a capability? It allows us to get each student to work on questions using another package (OK, Matlab, I've said it!), and to transfer the results of that work into Maple T.A. for marking. We want a different question for each student, but we want to be able to communicate this question to the student. OK, I'm rambling now: hopefully that makes things a little clearer.
(For what it's worth: I've spent a good deal of time with T.A. 2.5 running one by one through a big list of students trying to sort out who is "locking" a given test. We're using Maple T.A. via the Blackboard building block, so it's still 2.5 here for now.)
thanks very much for the rapid intervention here: it's very much appreciated! I just uploaded half a dozen question banks from last year to check out the conversion and things are "very familiar". That is, it's working as per Brownstone's version, which is great. And with any luck that old-time choking on Maple-graded questions will soon be a thing of the past!
11.30pm Friday night, Australian time, and all is (still) not well. Nearly two weeks of blackout now, and as per Michael's message, we now have a handful of assignments that are rapidly approaching deployment date. Staff here have (only) had experience in setting assignments via latex (it really is the only option for a maths-intensive assignment), and I foresee an small avalanche of bad press coming down my pipe from this incident. Already I've heard comments along the lines of "thank goodness we didn't set the tests using this software", which is really disappointing but none too surprising: why should we expect end users to divorce the Maplesoft and Brownstone components of the system? For what it's worth I've again submitted a bug to Brownstone (and received a "still not working for me either" response!).
So it's a veritable pain... particularly for someone stuck in the middle as an implementer of Maple T.A. Any news re a replacement conversion facility would be *very* welcome: the offer to convert things via email is very welcome --thank you!-- but the just-in-time nature of assignments that are produced by multiple time-strapped lecturers makes conversion via email, and across time-zones, a bit impractical. Still nice to point to, however! ("If you folk were just a bit more organised we could have sent it via email....")
We are having the same difficulty: the site times out. I also posted a ticket via the Brownstone support site, but only relatively recently. No reply as yet. (See also the post "Brownstone unavailable: alternatives?" on this site.)
Very, very, painful for staff who have learnt to depend on latex authoring to have to revert to constructing question banks manually. Maybe the Maple T.A. support folk can have more influence in getting this service back?
For my money this third party dependence has always been one of the really weak points in the Maple T.A. product. Latex authoring is a basic *requirement* for maths-heavy authoring (in practice), and should be supported internally. Our local distributor did suggest that this was on the cards; it would be nice to see this confirmed.