Welcome to R/exams

By R/exams

(This article was first published on R/exams, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Welcome everybody, we are proud to introduce the brand new web page and
blog http://www.R-exams.org/. This provides a central access point for
the open-source software “exams” implemented in the
R system for statistical computing.
R/exams is a one-for-all exams generator using (potentially) dynamic
exercises written in R/Markdown or R/LaTeX and it can export a variety of
formats from learning management systems to classical written exams.
This post gives a brief overview of what has happened so far and what
you can expect to find here in the next months.

Past

The package was originally started more than a decade ago to facilitate
classical written exams with randomized exercises for large-lecture courses.
Like many other teachers of introductory statistics and mathematics courses,
we were in need of infrastructure for conducting written exams with about 1,000-1,500
students. A team effort of colleagues at WU Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
lead to a large collection of dynamic exercises and the software was eventually
released at https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=exams.

Over the years learning management systems (like
Moodle,
Blackboard,
OLAT, etc.)
became easily available at virtually every university, creating a desire to
employ the same dynamic exercises also for online tests and quizzes. Hence,
the R/exams infrastructure was completely reimplemented allowing to export
the same exercises not only to written exams (with automatic scanning
and evaluation) but also to learning management systems, the live voting
system ARSnova, as well as customizable standalone
files in PDF, HTML, Docx, and beyond.

Despite (or rather because of) the flexibility of the software, novice R/exams
users often struggled with adopting it because the documentation provided in
the package is either somewhat technical and/or targeted towards more experienced
R users.

Present

Hence, this web page and blog make it easy for new users to explore the possibilities
of R/exams before reading about a lot of technical details. It also provides accessible
guides to common tasks and examples for dynamic exercises with different complexity.
For a first tour you can check out the one-for-all approach of
the package based on (potentially) dynamic exercise templates
for generating large numbers of personalized exams/quizzes/tests, either for
e-learning or classical written exams (with
automatic evaluation).

Some tutorials already explain the installation of R/exams (with
dependencies like LaTeX or pandoc) and the first steps in writing dynamic exercises
using either Markdown or LaTeX markup along with randomization in R. There is
also a gallery of exercise templates, ranging from basic multiple-choice
questions with simple shuffling to more advanced exercises with random data, graphics,
etc.

Future

For the next months we plan to write more tutorial blog posts that help to accomplish
common tasks, e.g., hands-on guidance for exporting exercises from R to Moodle or
tips how to write good randomized exercises. If you want to give us feedback or ask
us to cover certain topics please feel free to contact us – be it via e-mail,
discussion forum, or twitter. Also if you want to link R/exams-based materials or share
share experiences of using R/exams in a guest post, please let us know.

Thanks

Big shout to all contributors that helped R/exams to grow so much
over the last years. A special thank you goes to Patrik Keller, Hanna Krimm, and Reto
Stauffer who established the infrastructure for this web page (using R/Markdown and Jekyll)
and designed graphics/icons/photos/etc. Thanks also to everyone sharing this post,
especially on http://www.R-bloggers.com/ and https://RWeekly.org/.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: R/exams.

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