New search interface, talks, and a mailing list

Last week I deployed the new question search and organisation interface to the mathcentre editor. We noticed that the global question database was becoming quite unwieldy now that we have so many users (not complaining!), and finding both your questions and good questions written by others was getting harder. The new interface downplays the big list, instead presenting you with a few different ways in to the most useful parts of the site.

numbas new question index

The questions index page now shows you a kind of ‘dashboard’, with links to the most popular tags, your recently-edited questions, as well as some highlights picked by us and your starred questions – you can save a question to this list by clicking on the star next to its name on the question edit page. You can still search the entire database by entering keywords or question titles in the search box at the top of the page.

It’s not a coincidence that we also delivered a workshop on using Numbas at eAssessment Scotland 2013. An hour really wasn’t long enough to do very much at all, but everyone seemed very positive about Numbas and keen to investigate it further. I asked for a show of hands at the start to find out who had signed up for the workshop because they’d already heard of Numbas, and I was pleasantly surprised by the response!

In future conference action, James Denholm-Price of Kingston University London will be giving a talk titled “Using Numbas for formative and summative assessment” at CETL-MSOR 2013 on the 10th of September. James used Numbas in his linear algebra course last year and has many interesting things to say about it. Also at CETL our two summer students, Hayley Bishop and Sarah Jowett, will be talking about their work on the maths support wiki we’re creating with Birmingham University, to complement our respective maths support centres. More on that later!

On the 23rd of October I’ll be giving a talk about Numbas at an IOP-sponsored event on “Promoting learning through technology” at Edinburgh University. I don’t think the event has a webpage or even a definite venue yet; I’ll give details when I have them.

Finally, we’ve set up a numbas-users mailing list on Google Groups. The idea is to have a place to discuss Numbas use, ask and answer questions about authoring, and talk about features you’d like to see. Bill has started it off by asking for comments on the new searching interface.