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I'm working on converting a course to make it free to the students, and I'm considering using Ximera. What I haven't found online is documentation for/information on tips and best practices for randomizing values for problems in Ximera, and how well it will work. I have two main concerns:

  1. I'd first like to find information on specifics on how to write randomized questions in Ximera in ways that will be easy enough to do so that we can have TAs and not overly tech-savvy instructors help write the questions/set up the course.

  2. Secondly, does anyone know of a Ximera course already running somewhere that does use randomized values in many questions, and are there significant issues/delays/server overload problems with the actual day-to-day experience of the students in the course? We have ~1500 students per semester taking this course that we want to convert from our current paid system.

EDIT: this is for a College Algebra course.

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  • $\begingroup$ What level is the course? $\endgroup$ – Nick C Oct 21 '20 at 20:05
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I worked with Jim Fowler and Bart Snapp on Ximera as a graduate student. It is still (to my knowledge) primarily being maintained by Jim Fowler. I would recommend contacting him at his Ohio State email address.

I am not sure if this is the case, but one design issue we ran into with randomization is how frequently edge cases come up, and the wide variability of problem difficulty. We found it was generally easier to write a script to randomly generate 20 problems and then scratch the 3 or 4 of them which seemed unreasonable.

At the time, this system needed some serious "tech savvyness" to operate, but that may have improved in the last 4 or 5 years.

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  • $\begingroup$ "...but one design issue we ran into with randomization is how frequently edge cases come up, and the wide variability of problem difficulty." If it is relevant, could you give an example of an "edge case"? $\endgroup$ – Nick C Oct 21 '20 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ @NickC Something like giving students the problem $\frac{ax+b}{cx+d} = k$ to solve for various values of the constants, but forgetting to check that the LHS doesn't degenerate into a constant. $\endgroup$ – Steven Gubkin Oct 21 '20 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ Got it. My experience has also been that every problem I write involves checks like: ($a*$d != $b*$c) $\endgroup$ – Nick C Oct 21 '20 at 23:57

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