Accessibility – Rogo vs Perception

When considering and comparing Rogo and Questionmark Perception, one thing we looked at was the accessibility options available in both. As would be expected both give consideration to accessibility requirements, but the approaches and options vary.

Questionmark Perception (V5)


In Rogo, accessibility settings are set for an individual, rather than for an assessment/schedule. Once specified, these settings are used for every assessment that the user sits. The following settings are available:

  • Extra Time (doesn’t actually do anything as assessments are not timed)
  • Font Size
  • Typeface
  • Background Colour
  • Foreground Colour
  • Marks Colour
  • Heading/Theme Colour
  • Labels Colour

User’s cannot adjust any settings for themselves within exam delivery, but this is unlikely to be a problem, as accessibility requirements are almost always known about prior to an assessment. Furthermore, they can easily be changed ‘on the fly’.

Personalising WebLearn (Sakai) – The BMS Portal page

This year (2011-12), a new course, Biomedical Sciences, started within the Medical Sciences Division. This course combines  teaching specific to the course with teaching shared with other courses. In response to this, we wanted to ensure that the students’ experience of the course in WebLearn (Oxford’s Sakai-based VLE) was coherent and personalised, and didn’t require them to search through different parts of WebLearn to find what they needed.

Therefore, we decided to create a portal page that makes it easy for students to access the information – timetables, documents, etc – relevant to them. We wanted the page, and all of the content, to remain in WebLearn, to ensure that managing the content and the users remained straightforward for lecturers and administrators accustomed to using WebLearn.

Biomedical Sciences Portal Page
The Biomedical Sciences Portal Page (click to enlarge)

The resulting portal page, shown above, provided students with a slick, modern-looking page, on which they could see any recent announcements, view their timetable and access documents both relating to their course and from their personal site within WebLearn.

In order to achieve this, it was necessary to create a multi-level structure for the site, with the main site containing a subsite for each year of the course, and each year site containing a subsite for each module.

To dip quickly into the technical aspects, the portal page makes significant use of JavaScript, in particular the JQuery library. Where possible, the content, along with the user’s status and year-group, is gathered using Ajax requests to ‘WebLearn direct’ URLs, which return information, such as a user’s recent announcements, in a computer-friendly format, e.g. JSON. A brief summary of how the different sections of the page are created is given below:


WebLearn’s direct methods are used to get a user’s announcements, specifying the number and age to show. These are then presented to the user in an ‘accordion’, where clicking on an announcement title expands further details of that announcement.


The requirement for the calendar was to bring together multiple module calendars into a single view, with a different colour for each module. This was achieved as follows:

  • The calendars for each module reside in the module sites.
  • A Google account is subscribed to the calendar (ICS) feed provided by WebLearn for each module.
  • A Google-calendar view of all the module calendars, with each one assigned a different colour, is embedded into the page.
  • In order to combine the multiple feeds back into a single ICS feed that students could sign up to, e.g. on a smart phone, we used a tool called MashiCal.  However, requires manual input of the feeds to be ‘mashed’ – this has not been a problem so far as the students all do the same module in Year 1.

Course Docs

Documents and resources are held in the subsites for each year/module, with some general resources in the top level site. At the time of creating the portal page, there were no direct methods for accessing resources, so a somewhat clunkier method was used. The portal page requests the web view (an HTML page) of the appropriate resources and then uses JQuery to dig down through the folder structure to extract the links to all of the resources and present them in a tree view.

My Stuff

This provides a view of everything in a student’s My Workspace resources folder, produced in the same way as the Course Docs. Students can only view their resources from the portal page – they have to actually go to their workspace to upload/edit resources.

Future Developments

  • Access resources for Course Docs and My Stuff using direct methods (now available after a recent upgrade), as the current process of extracting links from HTML pages is slow and error-prone.
  • Extending functionality of My Stuff, in particular enabling drag-and-drop upload of files, so students can quickly upload files from any computer, e.g. results in the lab.
  • Creation of our own  ‘calendar aggregator’, to automatically combine ICS feeds for each student based on the modules they are studying.

I am a Grammar Nazi – who knew?

I set about entering some questions in Rogo today which will form the basis of a two part test for school children, testing, from an experimental psychology perspective, their understanding of grammar.

As this was my first foray in to creating a paper, I went at it by using the Rogo documentation – and fell at the second hurdle.

I began by opening “Help and Support” and read with interest the Getting Started with Formative Quizzes and with Summative Exams. Emboldened, I clicked on the link “Making a New Paper” on the latter page – and got a 404 (it does actually work as a link from the Formative Quizzes page though).

In any event, it was good that I applied to Jon because it turned out that I needed to create a complete hierarchy of Faculty, School, Course and Module before I could get into the paper. Once that was created, I set to work on the paper itself and that went swimmingly.  I was able to choose between Matrix and Dichotmous questions for what I wanted; I decided I wanted the flexibility of using my own labels and went with the Matrix.

This was very straightforward – my main difficulty was that the text boxes for entering options are rather small. That wasn’t too much of a problem as I was cutting and pasting, but I think that I would find it very frustrating if I was inputting text and was only able to see approximately 11 characters at a time.

I was amused to discover a mis-placed apostrophe as I was entering the questions – and in a test on grammar too!

And then, as I checked the test, I noticed the sign off message:
Please complete all questions before clicking ‘Finish’, you will not be able to go back.

We need to get that weak comma changed, I think. I’d like to see a conjunction added so that it reads:

NOTE: Please complete all questions before clicking ‘Finish’, as you will not be able to go back.

Yes, I am being pedantic, I’m afraid. Comes of being an ex-English teacher.

One thing that is clear to me as a user – Rogo is a system that stands on its own merits.  For me, conceptualising in terms of “Element A is similar to Element Y in Perception” is not really valid, and just holds me back. I think I need to explore Rogo as an entity rather than as a comparison if its full power is to be understood!


Getting excited by maths handling in MathAssessEngine

Just been trying out some sample QTIv2.1 questions sent to me by Dr Sue Milne from ELandWeb Ltd which address some issues with maths in online assessment that we have been struggling with for some time:

  • How do we allow students to choose the units in which they answer a numeric question?
  • How do we allow students to answer an algebraic question with an algebraic answer?
  • How can we randomise the values presented whilst testing the same mathematical concept from student to student and from attempt to attempt (to allow students to retest themselves)?
The answer appears to be that what we need is MathAssessEngine from the University of Edinburgh and QTIv2.1 .
Answering questions with algebra
Answering a question with algebra in MathAssessEngine
We haven’t yet had time to look at this is any great detail but these two examples demonstrate that there is a whole new world of assessments out there waiting to be explored.
qtiv21_examples contains two examples:
Example 1  (SineRule-002-mathOpWithSol.xml): Demonstrates a question that ‘understands’ units and the impact they will have on the expected answer
Example 2 (mela012252.xml): Demonstrates answering a question with algebra – in this case ‘sqrt’.  As the participant types, the answer the computer will mark is displayed in MathML.
Both questions randomise the variables shown each time you retake the question. To give them a go yourself, unzip the file then visit MathAssessEngine. ‘Choose file’ under ‘Upload Assessment Items and Tests’ and click ‘Go’.