ON-LINE WEB BASED TEST
WEB BASED COMPUTER PROGRAM:
Before the era of Internet, many language learning programs, not only for Japanese, but also for German, French, Russian, etc. have been developed. However, almost all of the programs developed so far have an undeniable problem which is a source of headaches for instructors. If the programs were developed for Macintosh computers, usually they won't work on IBM computers, and if the programs were for IBM, they won't work on Macintosh. Some learning software has indeed been released both in Macintosh and IBM format, but such programs make up only a handful of all language learning software.
Another problem is copyright. Since almost all of the programs are copyrighted, when you purchase a language learning program, the number of computers on which the software can be used must match the number of purchased copies of the software. For example, if you purchased 1 program, you can install the software on one computer. If you needed to install the same software on another computer, you must erase the program from the first computer before installing it on another computer in order to comply with copyright laws. If one purchased one copy of the program and then had it installed on 10 computers, this would be piracy and a violation of copyright law. The penalties for breaking these laws are severe. One, in this case, must buy ten copies of the same software if one wants to use it on ten computers. Thus, as you can see, unless one is planning on using a software program on only one computer, one is left with either breaking the law or spending large sums of money on the purchase of multiple copies of the same program.
Copyrights should be and have to be honored so as to protect the intellectual rights of software developers and the software companies. However, this causes a tremendous inconvenience in the classroom where, usually, having only one copy of a software program is quite inconvenient. It is true that, when an instructor wants to simply show the software to a group of students, it may not be much of an inconvenience to have only one copy as long as you can use a large projector connected to the computer. But in reality, not many colleges and universities have the luxury of such equipment, meaning the software program must be demonstrated on a normal size computer monitor. As one might expect, in this case it is extremely hard to show a computer program to a whole class if the software is installed on just one computer
It gets worse. If an instructor wants students to actually use the software, having multiple copies is a must. Without multiple copies, students would have to take turns at the computer on which the software is installed. Thus, it would take the whole class period to finish even a small amount of computer work, if there is only one available computer on which is located the software you would like your students to use.
If a student likes and wants to use the program to study, the student is not allowed to copy the program. Therefore, he has to use it in the computer lab of the university. This means that he cannot take the program back home and use it in his own computer. If I were a student, I would feel more relaxed studying at home and would study more there than at a university computer lab.
One of my major goals in developing this web-based program was to develop a program aimed at eliminating all of the problems described above. The solution I came up with was to develop a web-based program. The web-based program eliminates all of the problems I described above. A web-based program can be used on any type of computer as long as a web browser (such as Netscape) is installed. Even though we (Prof. Yokoyama and I) have decided to own the copyright of the program, the practice mode of this program is not password protected so that students and instructors who could potentially benefit from this program can access it freely. Also a web-based program can be used by every single computer in a computer lab at the same time, which makes it feasible for all students in class to use and experience the program at the same time in the class period.
One is a practice mode and the other is a testing mode. The practice mode is used any time except for when the testing mode is open. We have designed the program so that when the test mode is open, the access to the practice mode is not available. This is because it is possible, even though it requires a high level of computer programming knowledge and, even then, is rather difficult, for a user to have access to the practice mode during the exam to cheat.
For example, if you would like to practice the 30 vocabulary on lesson 5, simply type in 30 in the lesson 5 spot.
Or you can even combine multiple lessons like 20 words from lesson 5 and 20 words from lesson 6.
Once you have chosen the number of words, you click on the "generate" button.
The server selects the vocabulary at random from the selected lesson or lessons, and the actual vocabulary comes out on the screen.
After the vocabulary comes out, you will enter in your answers, and when you are done with your answers, click on the "Check answers" button. The server will check your answers and show the results in a matter of few seconds. The correct answers are indicated by an O, and incorrect answers are indicated by an X--the standard Japanese style of showing correct and incorrect answers. At the bottom of this page, you will see a "try incorrect answers again" button. By clicking on this button, you can practice your incorrect answers again if you wish to do so.
If you choose to work on your incorrect answers, the answer you previously entered, which is the incorrect answer, will be shown so that you know what not to type in again. You can repeat this "try incorrect answers" as many times as you need. No limit is set as to the maximum number of practice sessions you can work on.
In other words, unless you are registered for the course, you cannot take the exam. Another difference is that after you are done typing in your answers, you don't see the "check answers" button. You see instead a "turn in test" button.
Click here to see the above bigger
This difference should be self-explanatory since this is a testing mode. After you turn in your test, you will receive a prompt confirming that your test was received successfully.
After making sure your test was received successfully, you can check your score by answering "Yes" to "Do you want to know your score?" question. If you answer yes, you will see your score.
If you answer "yes" to "Do you want to see your answers?" you can see the graded test.
Here I will simply list the names and functions of the wizard's pages. In the wizard's page, you can open and close the test (Folder access control). You can see the results of the tests (Results). You can make new examinations (Make examination forms). You can delete examinations (Delete registered forms). You can add users (User and Group administration). And you can edit the dictionaries (Dictionaries). The wizard's page is password protected. You have to be registered as an "administrator" to be able to have access to this page. Therefore, unless you are a registered administrator, you cannot have access to this page. If you are registered as a student, you don't have permission to access this page.
I will not talk about the details of the wizard page. However, if any of you are interested in exploring the wizard's pages, please e-mail me. I would be happy to register you as an administrator so that you can surf the wizard's pages.
SECURITY MEASURES FOR THE TESTING MODE:
When the students take the test, they take it under my supervision. Therefore, I know who exactly is taking the exam, and how long it took them to finish the exam. However, some circumstances force me to give a test away from my supervision. This is because the computers in the computer lab breaks down from time to time and consequently, there are not enough computers available for all of the students to use. Fortunately, there is another computer lab (walk-in lab) on campus. I ask for volunteers to go to the other computer lab, and give them the test at a time other than the designated exam time. Once when I did this, I was checking the result of the tests and I noticed something very unusual.
If you take a look at the above "remote host" information, you can tell that the remote host name of the third row is distinctively different from other remote host names. The remote host names "comXX.kcc.hawaii.edu" are the remote host names assigned for the walk-in computer lab, where the students were supposed to take the exam. The "hula.net" is a host name by a local internet service provider in Hawaii. I checked with HulaNet and confirmed with them that the remote host name "elua24.hula.net" is indeed a dial-up remote host name. Therefore, it's clear that, in this instance, the student didn't go to the computer lab to take the exam. Even though there's no proof, it's probably the case that the student took the exam at home, and turned in the answers not knowing that I can tell whether a student really went to the lab just by checking the remote host name. When I asked the student, she told me that it wasn't she who took the test, but it was her brother who logged into the exam, punched in the password, and went through the whole process of taking the exam and sending the exam in at the designated time, and scored 100%. I could have told her that she cannot take the exam again because she didn't give me any excuses for not taking the exam (after all, it was her brother who took the exam, according to her story). But I gave her another chance to take the exam under my supervision.
However, their reasoning for disapproval and not liking the on-line test makes you wonder. Almost all of the complaints are related to the students lack of knowledge of the correct Japanese writing system and/or indications that they hadn't practiced with the program enough before taking the test. It is also interesting to note that those complaints are coming from those students who score 60-70% (or lower) on the test. It seems to me that, for some of these students at least, raising complaints with the computerized test may be one means of trying to get me to give them a second chance where they may be able to raise their score.
Instead of brushing aside these complaints, however, let's look at some commone ones. The most common type of complaint is "The computer cheats." What students are claiming here is that they typed a word in correctly, but the computer registered their typing incorrectly. Since I know enough about computers to realize this is highly improbable, I don't worry too much about this type of complaint.
Another common complaint is that typing an answer is different from writing answers on paper. I wasn't certain where the problem was in this case and so, in order to clarify what they meant, I talked to my students about this. It turns out that their complaint is related to their lack of the knowledge of the Japanese writing system. When you indicate a long vowel in Japanese, you have to be careful with some vowels because they are irregular. I, here, would like to avoid getting into a discussion of how long vowels should be written in Japanese because it's not relevant to our main discussion. But in short, a student has to type in "ou" instead of "oo" to indicate the long vowel. Even though this is true for writing out the Japanese words in pen or pencil as well, some students do type in "oo" instead of "ou," and their answers are graded as incorrect. The assumption here is that, if they are writing with their own pens and pencils, students would avoid making such errors. While this might be true for an occasional student, my experience is that I see the same incorrect answer from students when they write out their answers. It is also interesting to note that I get this claim mainly from Japanese 101 students who have just started to learn Japanese, and never from upper level (for example, Japanese 201 and above) students. This supports my claim that this second complaint is a reflection of unfamiliarity with the writing system and, as student progress in Japanese, this problem eventually disappears.
I realize that it may be true that for some it is easier to write out answers rather than typing out answers. However, in the end, this problem is not related to the functioning of the program itself. It is related to the human element involved in using the program. In fact, it is also true that for some it is easier to type out answers rather than writing them out.
COMPARISON BETWEEN WRITTEN TEST AND ON-LINE TEST
There is not a significant difference between the results of the 2 tests. In general, those who got an A on the on-line test got an A on the written test, and you can see the the same trend for those who got B's and C's. The percentage difference between the two tests falls somewhere between one and three percentage points. This is not very large at all. And fifty percent of the students did better on the on-line test and fifty percent did better on the written test. Overall, I believe that it is safe to conclude from this that there is no considerable difference between the result of the on-line test and the written test.
APPLICATIONS TO OTHER SUBJECTS:
This program can be used not just for languages, but for other subjects like Philosophy. Below you will find some sample Philosophy questions, which were made by Prof. Robin Fujikawa.
I have tried to come up with an alternative software to solve this problem by creating my web-based on-line program. The feedback from the students and the instructors are good. As I mentioned in the instructors' feedback section
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