University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 5879-5884
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0323
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
The authoring of parameterized exercises has been a useful activity both for teachers, who could take advantage of databases of parameterized exercises for preparing study materials, but also for students that learn by producing new problems. This has been verified during the realization of MSc dissertations written by High School teachers that, as students again, have written about the positive aspects of their experience in the production of parameterized exercises. Parameterized exercises can also be used in online systems as a secondary study tool for STEM students (such as SIACUA system [2]).

With these goals in mind, we have been developing a package named MEGUA to handle databases of parameterized exercises in the SageMath platform for mathematics. During the use of this system we gathered several requests from users claiming a better system. In this paper we present a redefined tool as well as some first opinions on the new facilities.

Originally, this package had the old SageMath Notebook as a front-end which has been presented in ICERI 2013 [3]. A new version of this package has been developed for the new platform named “Sage Math Cloud” (SMC) running in a secure and centralized web platform creating, for each new project, a virtual Linux machine with shell command access.

The improved version of our package was redesigned with the main following characteristics:
(1) Easy use and easy installation following the instructions in [1] (anyone with an SMC account can install and use package MEGUA that works in SMC where many authors can interact in the same online project).
(2) Improved error message (authors can easily locate the compilation errors in source text or code).
(3) Easy assembling of different formats of parameterized questions. At the moment, formats are: exercises for pdflatex, exercises for a multiple choice with bayesian networks (SIACUA system), and AutoMultipleChoice (AMC system) for paper written problems. It's now possible to produce a paper test based on the weights of the BN; easy to control the generated type of random exercise; easily expanded for other systems (it is planned for Moodle and more functions to AMC).
(4) Improved conversion from HTML to LaTeX (it’s possible to create a PDF document with a catalog of all exercises organized by Chapters; Sections; Subsections).
(5) Commands to manage the database: (“megua new” creates a new template for exercises; “megua catalog” - generates the catalog in PDF; easily expanded for other shell commands).

In the forthcoming academic year this new tool is going to be used in some courses of Physics Department at our university and two more mathematics courses are joining the project. Important is that students are demanding more online problems, created in this platform.

[2] L. Descalço, P. Carvalho, J.P. Cruz, P. Oliveira, D. Seabra. “Using bayesian networks and parameterized questions in independent study”. 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies Barcelona - 6th - 8th of July 2015;
[3] Pedro Cruz, Paula Oliveira, Dina Seabra. “MEGUA package for parameterized exercises.” 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation. Seville, Spain. 18-20 November, 2013.
Sage Math Cloud, Mathematics, STEM, LaTeX, Digital Content.