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Archive for May, 2009

Importing Questions using the Import Utility

One of the most frequently addressed questions we come across is on the topic of importing questions into our Quiz/Test software and Weblearning application.  More often than not, the trouble lies within the formatting for the text file itself.  In this article, I’m going to show you how to properly format your questions and load them into the Import Utility so that they can easily be imported into our software.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that the Import Utility only allows you to import Multiple Choice/Response style questions. Any other types of questions (Fill-in-the-Blank, Essay, Pick List, etc.) will need to be added in manually.

The first step is to launch the Import Utility itself. Depending on the type/version of the software your using the process for doing this may vary. In most cases, you can launch the Import Utility by going to the Questions area of the quiz/test you are currently working on and locating the Import link, bringing up the Import Wizard.

On the first step of the Import Wizard, where you would normally select the .txt file you would like to import questions from, there is a link that reads Launch the Import Utility (click here).

In some cases, you can launch the Import Utility by going to the Tools menu at the top and selecting Question Import Utility. In Weblearning, you can launch the import utility by following the instructions in the Import section of the Questions & Slides tab.

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This will launch the Import Utility, which allows you to open the text file containing the questions you would like to import, and format the text file into the proper format for importing.

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Each question that you import should follow the 11-line import format. The first line must contain the question text, followed by a Hard Return, then a blank line (if your question or answer text contains line feeds/carriage returns, replace then with the following markup prior to importing:  [br] ). The next 5 lines are answers A-B-C-D-E, each followed by a Hard Return.  If a question has less that 5 answers, enter a blank line (Hard Return) for each missing answer. After the 5 answers, another blank line should follow. Next, the explanation should follow, then followed by a hard return, and then 2 blank lines.

Each question immediately follows the previous question. Here is the format (the prefixed numbers are there for example only):

01: QUESTION 1 TEXT
02:
03: ANSWER A
04: ANSWER B
05: ANSWER C
06: ANSWER D
07: ANSWER E
08:
09: EXPLANATION
10:
11:
12: QUESTION 2 TEXT
13:
14: ANSWER A
15: ANSWER B
16: ANSWER C
17: ANSWER D
18: ANSWER E
19:
20: EXPLANATION
21:
22:

So let’s assume I already have a text file with a few of my questions, answers, and explanations already saved and I would like to import those questions. My text file will more than likely look something like this:

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First, I’ll need to open my file using the Import Utilty. To do this,  select File > Open Existing Text File from the top menu and then browse your hard drive until you find the .txt file you would like to import. When I open my text file in the Import Utility for the first time, it’s going to look like this:

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As you can see, the questions from my text file do not match the 11-line import format. To verify that the lines are off or to view what types of errors I may have in my text file, I can click the Preview tab at the top to get  a question by question analysis of exactly what (and more importantly how) questions will be imported.

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As you can see I have multiple errors in the layout of my .txt file, but just in case if I couldn’t tell immediately, the Import Utility will notify me with a popup alerting me to any glaring errors it might detect.  In my case. here are the errors:

First and foremost, both of my questions are using more than one line, when they should only be using one line.  In my second question, the explanation is also using more than one line when it should be only using one line. Also in the second question, I only have four answers (which is OK) but I have not left a blank line where the 5th answer would normally be. In fact, I’m missing a second blank line after both explanations as well. All of these things together are causing my question errrors.

For instance, the importer is looking for the first choice on my first question on line 5. However, it’s finding the last word of my question instead. After I go back and correct the formatting (moving all question text to one line, making sure I have the proper number of blank lines including blank lines for items I won’t be using, and making sure my explanations are only on one line) my format will look like this:

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As you can see I have corrected all my errors, and now the data on the right (in white) lines up correctly with a blue rows to the left.  From this view it looks as though I’ve managed to remove all the errors in formatting. However, just to make certain I’ll click on the Preview tab again to see what errors might be found:

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This time around, I did not recieve any popups notifying me of any errors, and I only see one warning sign.  In this case, the warning sign is alerting me that I have not entered any text for the 5th answer of my second question – which I did intentionally so it appears all is well.

The last thing I’ll need to do is denote which answer is actually the correct answer. To mark an answer as correct, I’m going to prefix it with [*]. Once I return to the software and actually import my formatted text file, that’s the prefix I will use to denote the correct answer in the Import Wizard. If my question has more than one correct answer (in the case of a Multiple Response style question), I only need to prefix all of the correct answers with [*]. Once I’ve prefixed my answers, my Import Utility screen will look like this:

Note: This step can be skipped, however if no prefix is found the Import Wizard will automatically use the first answer as the correct answer.

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Now that my text file is in the correct format, it’s time to save my text file again so that it may be used by the Import Wizard. To do this,  select File > Save This File to Disk from the menu at the top and select the location and filename where you would like to save your formatted text file.

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Once my .txt file is saved, I’m ready to return to the software and follow the steps of the Import Wizard, using my newly formatted text file to easily import questions, answers, and explanations directly into the software.

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