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*From*: John Denker <jsd@av8n.com>*Date*: Fri, 12 Nov 2021 01:21:18 -0700

Hi --

Some people already know about this, but not everybody:

By way of background: IMHO multiple-guess questions are an

abomination. Students should be allowed to write more-or-less

free-form answers, for about a dozen reasons.

Now suppose the correct answer is ½ sin 2θ, and some student

comes up with the answer sin(θ) cos(θ). Are you going to mark

it wrong?

Or suppose the correct answer is 1/√(1-x ^ 2), and some student

comes up with the answer cosh(asinh(x)). Are you going to mark

that it wrong?

With some thought you can figure out that each pair of answers

is equivalent, but if you're teaching a huge class you haven't

got time to put much thought into grading the quizzes.

It turns out that you can automate the process. There are two

different moodle plugins that will do it for you. You type

in your answer, the students type in their answers, and the

machine does the comparison.

Neither of these is a built-in feature of basic moodle, but

they are readily installable plugins.

a) The light-weight plugin is what I call the "golf cart". It

is ridiculously easy to install, if you already have a working

moodle system. It contains its own simple machinery for parsing

and evaluating expressions.

https://www.av8n.com/cgit/moodle-qtype_algebra/about/

b) The heavy-weight plugin is what I call the Caterpillar 777D

mining truck. It uses a full-blown computer algebra system

(maxima) as its back end.

https://docs.moodle.org/311/en/STACK_question_type

If all you need to do is run to the corner store for a few

groceries, the golf cart is more practical.

For a family cross-country trip, neither the golf cart nor

the 1000 hp dump truck is practical.

I suspect the STACK system is the way of the future. It is under

active development. The hope is that there will eventually be a

big library of ready-made questions you can draw from, and some

decent documentation, but we're not there yet.

The guy who was maintaining the light-weight "algebra" plugin

retired a couple of years ago. Since then I have fixed a few

bugs and implemented a few creeping features. It's probably not

worth putting too much development effort into this, because I

reckon it's not the way of the future ... but it's quite usable

as-is.

Coniectura multiplex delenda est.

**Follow-Ups**:**Re: [Phys-L] Testing formulas for equivalence in moodle .... Coniectura multiplex delenda est.***From:*Karim Diff <karim.diff@gmail.com>

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