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  1. #1
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    IMS Question/Test Interoperability Support (Any)

    (Edited by HansV to make URL clickable - see <!help=19>Help 19<!/help>)

    I am a college professor. While I do not have a lot of experience with Access, with the help of several people in this forum, I put together an Access database for storing exam questions. The nice thing about using Access for this is that it can then write out the questions in a format that I can import to Blackboard and WebCT (online teaching environments) and MicroTest (testbank program) for printing offline hardcopy exams. Having this ability means I can write exam questions once and use them in multiple environments as needed.

    The problem I am now facing is a big one and one that I have no idea how to approach. I am hoping that someone in this forum has some experience in this area and might be able to help me or at least offer some guidance.

    Specifically, the University System of Georgia where I work is
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    Ronny Richardson

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    Re: IMS Question/Test Interoperability Support (Any)

    (Edited by HansV to make URL clickable - see <!help=19>Help 19<!/help>)

    Hi Ronny; I don't know IMS (I'm guessing it's XML-based?), but I have a few general suggestions: I hope one of them proves helpful.

    1. Have you contacted your local IT support and asked them to build you an Access db that can store and report the question data? It sounds like the work they do for you could also be shared with faculty throughout the system. If you came to our IT group with this kind of request, we'd find the time and people to help--I suspect your folks are equally dedicated. (Also, since there are special elists for support staff from universities, they may not have to do anything--just ask around for something someone else has already done ;-)

    2. If IMS is in fact XML-based, all you really need is the IMS "Schema" and a copy of Access 2003, and most of your work should be done for you. You'll have to do a little work to map the schema to your table fields, but if you're already storing all the information required, it's probably at most a few hours of trial-and-error. Again, your IT group should be able to help. You can ask your IT Helpdesk to get you the schema, or you could contact Blackboard or WebCT yourself, depending on the way your support with them is handled.

    For help with XML in Access 2003, see http://office.microsoft.com/assistance/cat...=CH062526681033 , especially the topic "Exporting Access data to XML"

    3. Even if it's not XML-based (the very worst case), Access reports can reproduce most structured data formats without trouble. You would set up the report using the simplest possible formatting (nothing on the page except the required information), then export the report output to a text file. If you do the report formatting correctly, you probably won't even need a cleanup step: you'll be able to hand it off directly to the import mechanism.

    If your IT people can't or won't help with this, I'd suggest asking one of your colleagues in comp-sci if this wouldn't make a reasonable small project for one of their students. You might even be able to get some funding from the Dean of the Faculty, since the benefits could be spread campus-wide.

    Best of luck! --Chris

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    Re: IMS Question/Test Interoperability Support (Any)

    As Chris suggests in his response, XML would be the preferred path, and a brief peek at the IMS specifications indicates it is XML based. However Access 97 is not capable of direct conversions to XML - it would require extensive SQL and VBA work to generate such an exchange. Either Access 2002 or 2003 would be much more capable in that regard.
    Wendell

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    Re: IMS Question/Test Interoperability Support (An

    I ask IT to do this for me and was told that they had too much work to do to even consider it. I had not thought of a student project, I will look into it.

    Ronny
    Ronny Richardson

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    Re: IMS Question/Test Interoperability Support (Any)

    There's no need to worry about Access versions, if one uses calculated fields in an Access report to generate the XML tags necessary yourself. I'm doing this to build and populate WebCT Courses at our institution. I simply save the reports contents to a text file, using VBA, as the Export feature of the file menu adds a blank line at the start of the exported report. A no no to XML and the IMS Specification.

    FWIW,

    TomG

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