Odyssey EMS Meeting - September 19, 2016

Notes from meeting with Caroline. Overall she liked the system and had many positive things to say about it, but she found many areas that needs improving. Here is a list of all the problems she mentioned; and responses from discussion with Isaac on 2016-09-21 in italics.


  • Distinguishing between examinations and sittings - is there a difference between the examinations and sittings part of the page, she wonders do we need both?
    • The page does not need both. We're removing the sittings section from that page. In the data model there is a many-to-many mapping between them, which influences other aspects of the system. At simplest case, an examination has a single sitting. There can be an extra sitting for students needing special conditions, via Access Services; there can be other separate sittings.
  • Crowdmark option wasn't obvious - and if not added initially, wasn't immediately clear how to add it after the examination sitting was created
    • It's under Edit Details. But it's changing soon: Isaac has been working on a high-priority item to revamp crowdmark options; see ST#106124
  • Only one authorized instructor to upload exam, defaults to ISC - multiple instructors might have to upload an exam, she has to change permissions to an instructor
    • This has been set up this way to avoid concurrency problems if multiple people think they're responsible for uploading it. However, a good solution is to initially set the authorization to blank; and the first ISC who chooses to upload it gets the write-lock; if another ISC wants to, they are told who currently has the write-lock and to confirm it should be taken from them. See ST#107171
  • Incomplete students - hasn't fully investigate how to add incomplete students and not obvious
    • It's under Special Cases.
  • Special cases, select extra candidates: text-field needs both UW student ID and user id - why do we need both? And what is the separator?
    • Both are required because the app isn't approved as a service to look up from student-ID to user-ID or vice-versa. This is a check-and-balance that the submitter is authorized to have that info already. The field separator is whatever you like- it uses a regular expression that knows all the natural choices. We can add text to that effect. ST#107172
  • Administrative Documents section:
    • Sequence Lookup, Folders, Labels likely not currently needed - folders might still be useful for collecting exams at the sitting, but sequence lookup not useful given Crowdmark use, and labels only necessary for courses that are either using exam booklets or not using the system to print
      • In some cases they could be removed, but the logic for when seemed messy and Isaac didn't think it was too helpful to go into it.
    • Proctor Package occasionally goes missing from the Administrative Documents zipfile. There is no separate link to check if it exists, without downloading the zipfile.
      • Isaac wants to fix the problem behind it going missing; the cause is that the course is not recorded as "Exams Independent" by the Registrar's office. We have details about fixing this below. ST#107173
      • The link to the Proctor Package isn't in the administrative list, but it is linked below, one for each sitting/room, in the "Sittings and Rooms" table. We could also insert it/them in the administrative list; or otherwise reorganize the page.
  • Permitted aids is not smooth - couldn't figure out how to add "candidates may bring no aid", had to clone previous term's
    • Option is only available to the person editing the exam as the Designated Uploader. See above comment about concurrency problems and a possible fix.
    • Further information about the data model below
  • No option to delete assessments - useful if made mistakes when creating an assessment
    • Not easy enough to be feasible, because it can't currently tell if it would cause follow-on problems. Theoretically we could, just after it was initially created, but tricky to know if it has already affected data elsewhere that would have to be rolled back somehow.
  • Deleting room is inside room link - why not outside next to the room?
    • It was put with other settings that are specific to the sitting - sometimes the sitting is owned by the registrar, in which case deleting the room isn't offered to the instructors/ISCs.
  • Enrollment number excludes withdrawn students - shows different number than Quest output. It would be useful to know which students have withdrawn (with either withdrawn code).
    • This could be added: perhaps as a list of students as an option to the class-list. ST#107174
  • No warning when sending an exam for printing but the latest version revision is unapproved - she uploaded an exam to fix typos, but didn't approve it, so old exam was printed, led to follow-on issues taking lots of time.
    • The system stores only one revision of each exam, and requires approval to print. Can Caroline tell us which exam this was? Isaac can look into it. ST#107175
    • This is connected to an existing item we will work on, to present thumbnails of the PDF pages as another chance to review before printing- see ST#106422
  • In one course (CS 343 W16) three students' photos printed on the exam were displayed poorly - they looked like silhouettes, even though the picture appear fine elsewhere (eg., printed from Learn)
    • NOTE: This was reported to Isaac; she just wanted to know if it has been followed up at all. Daniel will investigate this and report back to Caroline.
    • We'll look into it: Isaac noted details but hasn't dug into an answer. If the problem is user-supplied photos that have OK contrast on the screen, but poor in print, and it's seldom a problem, there might not be much we can do. ST#107127

Proctor Package

ST#107173: Caroline noted that sometimes the Proctor Package isn't automatically generated. Isaac says that this results in someone having to ask him to fix it; which requires him manually updating the database, which automatically generates the files when they are requested via the web-ui.

  • the cause is that the course is not recorded as "Exams Independent" by the Registrar's office.
  • the database records new courses with a "sitting owner". Three possibilities:
    • Distance Ed: should never be "exams independent".
    • Course: sometimes should be "exams independent" - presumably will be set by course data
    • Registrar's Office: should always be "exams independent" - however sometimes the system doesn't necessarily set the right value.

The fix is: on the exam import process, when creating the row, it calls ro.exam{something}import to create the sitting. looking for function exam_seating_require()

Searching for this might give us just enough info to propose a fix?

Permitted Aids

For an exam, there is a Boolean open_book.

  • It is initially unset.
  • Updating an empty exam without choosing "Open Book" option will set this to "no"
  • If set to no, then Permitted Aids is set to "None: Closed Book"
  • If set to yes, then additional logic is introduced, which can allow custom permitted aids.

There is a field for exam instructions, which are not meant for recording permitted aids. But adding a permitted aids value can have a custom text-field, which is what Caroline was wanting to edit.

Right now it can only be edited by the person permitted to upload and edit the exam. (to be revised; see ST#107171 and above).

The UI could instead have a "[+] Add Permitted Aid" directly on the editing page.

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Topic revision: r7 - 2016-09-29 - FranciscoMejia
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