Friday, 29 June 2012

LTIQuizzes and updates to APIS

When I was prototyping our Java Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI 1.1) implementation for QTI-DI I needed a tool to connect it to so that I could try out features in a more meaningful way than a simple duplication of the IMS test suite would achieve. I used APIS, the QTI 2.0 item engine that I developed many years ago as part of JISC's first QTI 2.0 project. I also added on very simple assessment support (APIS only supported individual items) which I had developed for CCPlayr, my desktop Common Cartridge player. Although APIS was superseded by other JISC funded QTI players many years ago, I have continued to occasionally use it to experiment with ideas as we moved towards the final QTI 2.1 release, including the changes we made to ensure that the full functionality of the Common Cartridge was supported.

The combination of my LTI library code, the necessary code to link it to an assessment system and provide enough functionality to fully demonstrate how it could be used, my common cartridge assessment player and the updated APIS item player actually makes a fairly useful quiz system. I briefly demonstrated a development version of the system, LTIQuizzes, at the JISC/CETIS conference in Nottingham, and will be making it available as an extra deliverable from our current projects.

My initial plan for LTIQuizzes was that it would just be an QTI 2.1 Entry Level player - i.e. it would support the questions and tests from the QTI 2.1 version of Common Cartridge, but not much more. APIS does excede the CC requirements by supporting multiple interactions in a single question and flexible response processing and feedback, however I felt that Entry Level+ was a reasonable target. A burst of development activity on APIS over the last week has made me change my mind - I now plan to go well beyond QTI 2.1 Entry Level.

Until recently APIS did not support adaptive items, and had no concept of template items which were not part of the first QTI 2.0 draft. Because LTIQuizzes is the only tool we have that integrates with VLEs using LTI at the moment, I have been trying to extend the range of items that we can demonstrate using it at workshops. I particularly wanted to support the items generated by Uniqurate. Over the last week I have finished support for adaptive items (basically a bug fix) and started to add template item support.

With these improvements to the APIS item player, I now think that rather than labelling LTIQuizzes as an entry-level player I should now aim to make it an intermediate system that is capable of delivering any quiz that can be written with Uniqurate without invoking the expert mode. LTIQuizzes will probably never be able to deliver the full range of items that QTIWorks, JAssess and SToMP II support, however it will be able to deliver a useful subset of them, and may well find a niche market with users who do not need the advanced maths features of the other players, but are looking for a simple and robust system that integrates well with their VLE.

I'll be making LTIQuizzes available for download from the APIS sourceforge site within a few days, once I've integrated the APIS updates and added some installation documentation.

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