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Canvas “New Quizzes” Option

Perhaps you’ve heard about a way in Canvas to hit a switch and randomize the order of your quiz questions. Or maybe you’ve been talking with me about Canvas and heard about something called “Quizzes.next.” Or, most likely, you’ve spotted the new “add Quiz/Text” button at the top of the Assignments list, tagged with a little bar saying “beta.”

+ Quiz/Test Beta Button

The short answer is, yes, there is a newly available alternative to the Canvas quiz engine, which will in the not too distant future replace the current quiz engine. The Instructure techs are calling this the “Quizzes LTI.”

There’s a whole lot of things that can be said about this Quizzes LTI tool, and a whole lot of those things are being said over on the Canvas Community site’s Quizzes LTI User Group. If you decide to try out Quizzes LTI, the instructor resources in that user group may be valuable, but all that’s like reading a new car manual. What I suspect you want first is the sales pitch, all the shiny features. So here’s what I consider the high points of the Quizzes LTI tool:

Question Types

The Quizzes LTI question types are extensive, and frankly the way some of them operate (Fill in the Blank, I’m looking at you!) are vastly better in this new quiz engine. Here’s the current list of question types:

Quizzes LTI Question Types

Okay, so a couple of those aren’t actually questions. The “piggy bank” button allows you to access what Quizzes LTI is calling “Item Banks”… basically pools of questions. The Stimulus button allows you to place some fixed content, perhaps a writing prompt or set of data, and list questions associate with that stimulus. The way that works for students is that they’ll see the stimulus whenever they are answering the questions associated with that stimulus. Curious? Details can be found at “How do I insert stimulus content in the Quizzes LTI?” article.

I’m delighted to see that Canvas has a Hot Spot question now. I always loved that question type in Blackboard, and the normal Canvas Quiz doesn’t allow for it. In fact, the Quizzes LTI version of Hot Spot is superior to what I was used to from Blackboard, in that you can define a rectangle, circle, or irregular polygon as the “correct” location on the image, rather than being limited to only a rectangle.

As I mentioned above, the Fill in the Blank question has some surprises in store. If you set up this question type, you have three types of “blank” that can be designated: Open Entry, Dropdown, and Word Bank.

Open Entry gives a text box to type in, but there are several options for how to handle the text:

“Exact Match” requires the student exactly type (capitalization included) into the blank. “Contains” requires that the student type in anything that contains the particular word you are looking for. “Specify Correct Answers” lets you designate a list of things that the student must do an exact match with, and so long as they match any word on your list they get the blank correct. “Regular Expression Match”… well, for the two of you out there that understand regular expressions, just rejoice that you have that option; the rest of us will continue being confused by regular expressions. And, the first on the list, “Close Enough.” This option has a check box to ignore the case of the type, so you can use this choice to not worry over capitalization. But there’s also a number you can set, for the “Levenshtein Distance”… which basically means how many letters off a word can be but still be counted as correct. (If this sounds intriguing, but you’re not quite sure what it means, I strongly recommend looking over the Wikipedia article on the topic. This could be potentially very useful for some faculty.)

Dropdown allows you to set up a list of several words, one of which will be marked as the correct one, and then displays that list as a drop-down menu in the sentence.

Word Bank is visually interesting, in that students will get a blank, and a set of words in bubbles which they can drag onto the blank. Functionally it’s about the same as the Dropdown option, but it sure looks different on the screen!

I won’t go into any detail on the other question types here, but I will give a teaser on a feature on the most popular question type. If you add a Multiple Choice question, you can both shuffle the order of the answers, but you can also set each possible answer as being worth different point values. So the whole question could be worth 5 points, and that’s what the student receives if they pick the correct answer, but you could still give 2 points if they pick a “nearly right” answer… or give negative points if they pick an answer that is really, really, really wrong.

Settings

In addition to all those quirks about question type, there are a couple quiz settings that should make some faculty happy. Along with settings you have already had in Canvas, such as time limits, one-at-a-time question layout, and setting an access code on the quiz, are two options not available before on Canvas.

Shuffle Questions switch

That’s right, finally there is a “flip the switch” simple method of randomizing the order of the questions in a Canvas quiz. Plus, if you are allowing multiple attempts on the quiz, you now have an option to enforce a wait time between test attempts. Timing controls are by number of minutes, hours, or even days.

Allow Multiple Attempts settings

Moderate

And there’s some new options when it comes to moderating the quiz attempts too. Although I suspect more moderation options will appear over time, right now we get a Canvas quiz moderation first: You can set additional time, not for a particular student on a particular quiz, but for that student on all quizzes in the course. So if the DRC tells you that John Smith is supposed to get 1.5 or 2 times the normal time limit, just set that once for John, and it’ll grant the extra time for all of the Quizzes LTI quizzes that you use in the course.

Moderate student quiz attempt timing

Now what?

So, should you try out Quizzes LTI? Obviously that is up to you, and it is marked as “beta” right now, which is software speak for “it may contain bugs.” But when was the last time you worked with software that didn’t contain bugs, right? Bottom line is, if you’re willing to try it out, or if you are excited to start using some of these new quiz functions, you can give Quizzes LTI a try.

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