Text Conversion to QTI for Bulk Question Import

Idea created by Ron Marx on Nov 1, 2018
    Open for Voting
    • Jeffrey Bartel
    • Rob Ditto
    • Ron Marx

    This idea resurrects an earlier archived one, Strengthen Canvas Import Ability with QTI Files .


    I hoped that new version of assessments, quizzes.next / quizzes.next_new, would have incorporated this simple but powerful function. This conversion utility quickly imports a properly formatted text file into QTI syntax that can be effortlessly imported into Canvas.


    As a former blackboard learn user, I converted tons of questions into a format understood by that LMS. The resulting library of question banks were used to assess student performance for an entire U.S. History curriculum. I attribute my ability to do this to markedly improved student achievement on our DoE-administered End of Course examination required for all high juniors in the state of Florida.


    As long as the syntax of the text matches what the conversion API embedded into the LMS expects, questions are quickly imported. Blackboard user California Polytech, among others, understood that creating questions outside of an LMS platform has advantages over developing questions within the LMS platform—the ability to use highly responsive applications such as Excel and Word, the ability to spell check, the ability to see all information on one page, and the ability to reuse (.txt) files. The digital document they created is self-explanatory.


    When first proposed last year several suggestions were made to simply purchase a copy of Respondus 4. I purchased and attempted to use it to rewrite the question banks into QTI syntax. At that time, the application had not been upgraded for years and years. (The import and edit functions of the application don't appear to have been upgraded to this date.) The multi-step process was so cumbersome that I simply could not process the thousands of questions quickly enough to justify the process.


    A simple text-to-QTI conversion and import function (available on that other LMS platform) doesn't require special editing of tags, indents, etc., but tab/comma delimited fields holding: question type, question stem, distrators, correct answer, and question options such as distractor shuffling. The nice thing about creating questions within this data structure is that HTML formatting can be used. The end result are questions (and distractors) that are pre-formatted and need little if any additional work within the Canvas RCE.


    From what I understand, this entire function is controlled by a streamlined, easily manageable API that works alongside the import API already inside of Canvas.


    Finally, how many teachers, instructors, and others would actually use this? I know this is an issue the folks at Instructure weigh carefully. If teachers knew such a feature existed, especially teachers with some years of experience who have collected thousands of questions, this feature would be used extensively. My classroom teaching experience across a dozen subjects taught me that there is little direct alignment to state standards in regards to the question complexity. Teachers with experience can effectively tweak questions to give their students better focused practice toward the high stakes end-of-course exam.


    Please vote this idea up so that the Canvas development team knows the interest for this data exchange and interoperability feature actually exists within the Canvas Community.