Numbas

Christian Lawson-Perfect

Development update: October 2020

I went from paternity leave in September straight into the mêlée of our first entirely online semester. Here’s an update of development work on Numbas during the month of October.

The vast majority of changes are bug fixes, now that so many more people are using Numbas and discovering edge cases. (And I made a couple of mistakes when introducing Numbas v5, sorry!)

Development update: August 2020

We’re continually working on Numbas, fixing bugs and adding new features. I thought that it would be a good idea to post more regularly about updates to the Numbas software, rather than waiting until each year’s major version release to list everything that’s changed.

I’m going to go into a bit more detail on changes than I normally would in major-release posts, to give an idea of what day-to-day development on Numbas looks like.

I’d like these posts to be monthly, but I’m about to embark on a month of paternity leave, so don’t expect another one until the end of October.

So, here’s what’s changed since Numbas v5.0 was released in June.

Numbas LTI provider v2.7

We’ve just released a minor new version of the Numbas LTI tool provider.

Changes in this version include:

  • A global dashboard view, showing resources which are active today.
  • An option to only show completed attempts when viewing the statistics for a resource.
  • When the student ends their attempt, they’re shown an encoded receipt which they can use as evidence of their score, even if no receipt email is sent.
  • Bug fixes around time zone handling, sending email receipts on attempt completion, cross-site security and text formatting.

We recommend updating any servers running the LTI provider as soon as possible, by following the upgrade instructions.

The installation instructions for Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Heroku have all been updated.

Recordings of Numbas training sessions

Here are the recordings of our recent training sessions held over Zoom.

First, there was a beginners’ session on the 15th of July, covering the Numbas editing interface, how to deliver exams to students, and writing a first question:

And an advanced session on the 22nd, covering explore mode, custom marking algorithms, and custom part types:

Numbas training sessions

We’re planning on running another Numbas training session for beginners, following the series we ran in March and April.

The first session is scheduled for 10:00 BST on Wednesday 15th July. It’ll run over Zoom and last about two hours. No previous knowledge of Numbas will be assumed.

Following demand, we’ve scheduled a more advanced training session, for experienced Numbas users.

This will take place at 10:00 BST on Wednesday 22nd July. Again, it’ll run over Zoom and last about two hours. Christian will demonstrate a few things, then there’ll be time to work through question-authoring problems from attendees.

Register for a training session:

If you’re looking to start using Numbas in a hurry because of the CoViD-19 crisis, have a look at our blog post about how Numbas can help.

Numbas v5.0

Montage of screenshots of Numbas v5

It’s time for another major version of Numbas. This release includes a radically new way of presenting questions, as well as a few other helpful new features.

We’ve made a short video to demonstrate the new features:

We’ve also made a demo exam so you can try it out yourself.

Recording of online Numbas training session

This morning we ran the second of our online Numbas training sessions organised in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Here’s the recording of the session:

There’s at least one more session to go, at 10:00 BST next Wednesday, April 8th. You can still register to attend. If there’s demand for it, we might schedule more sessions.

How Numbas can help during the COVID-19 crisis

Now that face-to-face teaching in many institutions has been cancelled in response to the coronavirus crisis, many lecturers are looking for ways to move their teaching and assessment online. 

We’ve put this page together as a reference to describe how Numbas could be used to help your students and to replace paper-based assessments. 

Accessibility statements for Numbas

A few people have asked us for an accessibility statement before they start using Numbas, so we’ve written one.

In fact, we’ve written two: one for the exam interface seen by students, and one for the editor.

The statements describe the accessibility requirements that we’ve designed Numbas around, some tips on how to use Numbas effectively with different assistive technologies, and details on the outstanding accessibility issues that we know about.

If you’ve got any feedback about the statements or accessibility in Numbas, please let us know.

Documentation

Numbas features full documentation which is always in line with the most recent version.

Numbas Documentation

Numbas Blog

We regularly update our blog with articles about new and future features, as well as other useful information.

Numbas Blog