Wikisoba project

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The Wikisoba project is a spin-off of the WMUK Virtual Learning Environment, and is intended as a software development initiative concerned with developing lightweight course management tools. It grew out of a perceived need to be able to reuse Moodle quiz questions outside Moodle.

Mark I tool[edit | edit source]

The Wikisoba tool authored by Magnus Manske in Javascript is hosted on Wikimedia Labs. It pulls in sections of any fixed MediaWiki site, displaying them in a plain skin; and interleaves them with questions written in GIFT format.

Examples of quizzes can be found at w:User:Charles Matthews/Wikisoba repository.

General philosophy[edit | edit source]

  • Currently timing considerations are not a major concern.
  • The educational equivalent of "assume good faith" being to assume that students are there to learn rather than game the system, we come at this in the setting of open-book self-testing.

Mark II development plan[edit | edit source]

For the next step, some new principles are being taken into account.

Architecture proposal for Wikisoba project Mark II


  • The quiz component should move beyond online forms as the only type of input, to include drag-and-drop and clicks on images.
  • The design should be engaging, intuitive, colourful, and suited to the tablet era.
  • The range of questions should be much extended.
  • The tool should be versatile as far as the question setter is concerned, and should offer varied question types, though complex instances will probably have to be limited to form input.
  • Navigation through a quiz will be flexible, and done section by section, rather than being linear and start-to-finish
  • The back office parts of the system will be able to handle scoring of quizzes, responses (i.e. feedback to answers), hints, progress tracking, badges, and notifications to authors.


  • The Mark II tool is conceived of as a Web app, supported by server-side code: see diagram for a proposed architecture.
  • GIFT format, and possibly other markup quiz formats, will be offered as human-readable layers for authors, but will not be the underlying language of the system.
  • The underlying layer of syntax should be JSON, and closely compatible with XML exported from Moodle.
  • The working title for the underlying repository is "WikiQuiz".

Current objectives[edit | edit source]

What are we trying to do, as of September 2014?

  • Define a “lingua franca” in JSON that covers most standard question types as data structure, and that is also compatible with the format used in XML export from Moodle files.
  • Define a working format (MF, i.e. middle format) for data representation that is closely related, but more compatible with the operational side of the system.
  • Define a system architecture, in three parts (WA, QA and UA), for handling quizzes, which will be adequate to the needs of “students” (those using the quizzes), and “teachers” (those authoring quizzes), assuming a repository of quiz material in JSON. Here WA is the web app; QA would handle tasks such as marking and generating hints, that depend directly on processing the input from questions considered as a type of online form; and UA would handle aspects that most directly concern the user, such as tracking sessions, feedback, badges, and any notifications (for example to those developing questions).
  • Define a development path, via scenarios that introduce the ambitions for rendering, collaboration and security.

State of the art[edit | edit source]

As an example of the state-of-the-art, shows a couple of visual question types.

There is a Quiz extension for MediaWiki. There is, and much less known, a Quizzes extension developed by WikiHow. There are numerous and mostly ad hoc types of quiz and survey online. The column-filling type on the Kwizmi and Sporcle sites should be noted because, while it is restricted to typing as input, the "discipline" is clearly related to acceptable learning mechanisms for many people. The "category intersection" type of question notable on Sporcle is ripe for exploitation, based on Wikimedia's category systems.

Loose ends in this plan: possible extra tech requirements[edit | edit source]

  • Security considerations in repository
  • Timed tests
  • Import of files in other existing formats (Aiken format, WebCT, Respondus), their use to display to authors, and authoring tools generally
  • Smart text recognition, for longer answers to queries. This is probably essential for a good mathematics system.
  • Export to badge-making software
  • Automation of Sporcle quiz creation, based on searches for suitable category intersections (see above under "State of the art")

Active pages[edit | edit source]

Archived pages[edit | edit source]