[Seaside] Seriously demented multiple choice questions

Andreas Raab seaside@lists.squeakfoundation.org
Thu, 20 Jun 2002 02:09:03 +0200


> Now, I'm quite sure that there is a way to do something like 
> this, even though I don't have a clue how right now. The bit
> that really worries me is finding a way to explain how to 
>_create_ such questions to the average community college teacher.... 
> not to mention a sensible UI for it.

If you can give a use case (e.g., how your average community college
teacher is supposed to design the entire course) I think it should be
reasonable simple to figure out something. Simplest example: When you
insert a variable, just double-click to get its properties (or have some
property inspector open) which allows you to input a range here.

> Just for starters there is the problem that most people expect
> arithmetic precedence (don't they?) as opposed to Smalltalk 
> style.

You could use a "calculator approach", e.g., don't just give 'em text
but a little calculator that shows them what they're typing. They'll
notice the difference very quickly since calculators have strict
left-to-right precedence rules.

> Then there is specifying the ranges of the inputs (done above as x:y
> is any integer from x to y, a:bF is any floating point from a to b,

Don't bother your teacher with text to begin with. Give 'em a simple UI
and show the "generated code". As soon as they feel confident enough
they'll switch to the code but up to that point you have to guide them.
That's where context menus, property inspectors and similar are
extremely handy.

> Excuse me while I go and bang my head against a nice hard wall  for a
> while. Any suggestions on how to tackle this most welcome. I knew I
> shouldn't get involved in end user applications.....

Again, you need a use case here. How will your teachers use this stuff?!
For example, if they are going to write HTML code manually and embed
some "magic expression" they might be really happy about some tiny
little tool that takes their input directly and spits out the magic code
which they can paste into the HTML code. This is awkward in the long
term but it's very nice to show off because you don't scare them away
with the complexities of "real programming" to begin with. In general,
end-user are very forgiving (they must be or else they'd never use MS
products) so even if your approach is a cludge it'll be *much* better
than nothing.

  - Andreas