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Jeff Denny - managing more sections with webwork

Jeff Denny - managing more sections with webwork

by Arnold Pizer -
Number of replies: 0
inactiveTopicmanaging more sections with webwork topic started 6/22/2004; 9:23:42 AM
last post 6/22/2004; 4:47:44 PM
userJeff Denny - managing more sections with webwork  blueArrow
6/22/2004; 9:23:42 AM (reads: 822, responses: 3)
At Mercer, the math dept has committed to teaching all of our calc I and II sections using webwork. So, we are going to go from having 2-3 webwork sections to 11 sections per semester. In the past, we just put all the students into one course (under their appropriate section number) and let the instructors work together to build homework sets. Now, we have too many faculty involved to work together...and some would prefer to just be given some "canned" sets to use.

So, the first question is: what is the best way to manage this many sections?

At the moment, we are considering setting up a separate webwork course for each instructor. This allows some freedom for the experienced webwork instructors who want to do more than the "canned" sets that a few of us are creating. But, of course, managing these sets and supporting the less experienced faculty will be more demanding. Any advice?

My second question is: how can I obtain a tar file of all the problems in the UR problem set that is in the CVS? We have the problems that came in our installation, but this does not include many of the problems that are listed in the CVS.

Thank you!


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userMichael Gage - Re: managing more sections with webwork  blueArrow
6/22/2004; 9:51:26 AM (reads: 1049, responses: 0)
As to the second question -- about obtaining the current contents of the Rochester CVS.

The page describes how to set up a "read only" link to the Rochester CVS.

Once set up, a one line command will update the contents your local collection with the changes that have been collected into the Rochester repository. (Any changes you have made will not be affected.)

I find it convenient to make an alias called wwcvs for the line

CVS_AUTH_SOCK= CVS_RSH=~/.ssh/webwork-anoncvs-helper


wwcvs update -A -d

will obtain all of the latest improvements including any new directories (that's the -d flag) More info on the cvs command can be obtained by typing

man cvs


cvs --help

The original checkout operation is similiar, but the command is longer, since you need to specify the repository which you want to check out. See the page above for details.

For the rochester problems you'll want to use "rochester" for the repository name and "rochester_problib" for the module_name. ( See ) (You can also use the cvs to obtain the latest versions of the WeBWorK2 system using "system" as the repository name and "webwork-modperl" as the module_name. ) Similar access to the other problem libraries can be arranged if that is desirable.

As to the first question. WeBWorK2 allows you to create a course using an existing course as a template. That might help with creating a number of similar courses.

The other solution is to create unix scripts that help automate the upkeep and synchronization of the various courses. We've not needed to do a lot of that at Rochester, but John Jones at Arizona State and Bill Ziemer and Cal State Long Beach have more extensive experience managing many similar courses and may have some scripts that you could use as models for your situation.

-- Mike

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userJohn Jones - Re: managing more sections with webwork  blueArrow
6/22/2004; 1:04:24 PM (reads: 1015, responses: 0)

The three things we do which might help you are:

  1. Have a tar'ed version of the standard templates directory. This will include the symbolic link (used in number 2).
  2. Have a single repository of problem files. In each course you create, make a symbolic link from the templates directory to the top of that repository.
  3. Have problem set files pre-made for the course. The problem paths need to account for the name of the symbolic link in (2). So, if the name of that link is Rochester, they paths will look like Rochester/setAlgebra5....
As Mike pointed out, with ww 2 this is easier. No need for the tar file, just keep a "standard version" of your course which has the link and the set definition files in it, and then choose to clone it when you make new courses.

For the number of courses you would have, this is probably sufficient. I use command line loops to do most of the course creation commands so I can do it for many courses at once. If this is not familiar to you, you might want to just use up-arrow to get the previous command, modify it, and re-execute it.


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userBill Ziemer - Re: managing more sections with webwork  blueArrow
6/22/2004; 4:47:44 PM (reads: 1023, responses: 0)
I went with actually copying a standard course to every faculty, since many wanted to change wordings and variable ranges. The script I use to automate setting up courses can be found here

It takes a standard course type and a course name as an argument, and sets up a new course with all the links.

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