I’m so happy, as the product owner for the new test tool, to announce that this updated, mobile-friendly, shareable version will be rolled out gradually to all users from this week. We expect the rollout to be complete by end of January 2021. (Edited mid January: The rollout has been temporarily paused. Please refer to our Support site for more information.)
If you have only been using itslearning for the last 12 months, you would have already had access to this tool and helped us refine it. However, for other users who have been using the previous version, well, it is now time to say goodbye to the old, and roll out the new.
Let me just say straight away that getting the new version will not cause any drastic changes for you. You can still continue using your existing tests, and as a former teacher, I know that year-end is a busy time for test taking. All your current tests are going to stay fully functional for a long time yet. And, you will be informed well in advance when the time comes to migrate your tests to the new Test tool. This will most likely happen between school years, around June/July 2022, so you’ll have plenty of time to prepare.
Mobile-friendly and shareable
As I mentioned earlier, some institutions and districts have been using the new tool for a year now, and the feedback from them has been great. They find the tool easy and intuitive to use. We’ve called it a ‘new’ version because it has been built from scratch (rather than tweaking the previous version) and is based on all the feedback we’ve received over the years from teachers and districts. We’ve made some great improvements, big and small.
Some improvements that teachers tell us they really love:
- New tests can be shared in the Library
- All questions are mobile and touchscreen friendly
- Manually grading open answer questions is easier, setting scores can be done while you are reading the full answer, so no clicking back and forth
- Teachers can give students feedback by adding a text comment to each submitted attempt
- The tool is easier to use and more intuitive
Building from scratch means the two versions are completely independent. Tests created in one tool stay in that tool. This unfortunately also means that during a transition period, until June 2021, many teachers will have two test tool options available. We’re changing the icon and text for the old one so you can see which one will be discontinued. For those already on the new version nothing will change. For the rest, this is how it will look on the add Activities page:
Some years ago the Assignment tool went through the same major upgrade, and it got a new “sidebar” where you can find options like deadline, assessment scale settings and so on. This is also available in the newest file element, and now you will find the same sidebar in the new test tool. We’ve done this to improve your user experience and make it easier to navigate around the platform.
In the screenshot above you can see another nice change, it is also now possible to show the results to the students without revealing the question list and their answers. So you could for instance let the students know their score after each attempt, but only reveal the questions and how the student responded after all attempts are completed. This increases the security and reuse value of tests.
The old test tool has 10 question types. The new tool currently covers 9 of them, and the last one is ‘just around the development corner’. We have combined “multiple choice” and “multiple response” into one, leaving the option of allowing multiple correct answers as a simple checkbox. We also combined “short answer” and “open answer” into one, as the functionality is basically the same. All questions can now be answered on any device, including touch screens and smartphones – making it easy for students to take the tests, especially in a remote learning environment.
We are also working on making the new test tool compliant with web accessibility requirements across Europe. We want the new tool to be useful and available for all students, including those using assistive technology to consume and interact with content in the itslearning LMS. There’re some challenges still that we need to figure out, but I can say that we’re working hard to find a good compromise, for instance between screen reader support and allowing for rich text content.
Migrating over your old tests
If you have been using the old version and want to migrate your test questions to the new tool, you can do that by simply selecting all questions in your tests and clicking “Export”. You then just have to create a new test and click “Import (QTI)”. This will migrate your questions and answer alternatives, but meta information such as scores, automatic feedback and the various test settings like deadline, scale and question order is not included yet. As we’re completing new functionality, we’ll also expand the export/import function to include more information. You can as always find more information from types of questions to setting and grading tests in the new tool, in our Support site.
I hope you’ll start getting to know the new tool in the months to come. If you find that your favorite option is not available yet, the old tool will still be available to you and can be used to create new tests right up till the end of this school year (2020/21).
We value your feedback, so if you have a cool idea on how to improve itslearning, add your suggestion to our Ideas portal for review.
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