Respondus to the Rescue

This is a true story, but the person it’s about doesn’t want us to use his name. You’ll understand why.

Bill, as we’ll call him, took a job at a new college. He spent nearly two months prepping the courses he was going to teach. Each course had a traditional, face-to-face section and another section for distance learners. So he developed materials for both sections in parallel.

Bill is an avid user of quizzes. He says that the quizzing process itself is a great learning tool for students. He also believes it encourages them to keep up with readings. Bill writes the quizzes in Microsoft Word, making them easy to print for face-to-face classes. He then imports the Word files into Respondus so he can upload the quizzes to his online courses.

Bill created nearly 80 quizzes in total for his various courses. He estimates that he spent at least 40 hours writing questions and selecting questions from publisher test banks, many of which he edits even further.

Then, the unthinkable happened. His hard drive died and efforts to recover his files were futile. And, yes, as you may have guessed, Bill never made a backup of his work. (That’s why we have to call him Bill.)

As Bill began to reassemble his course materials, he knew things could have been much worse. If he hadn’t uploaded the materials for his distance learning courses to his learning management system (LMS), they’d be gone for good. He quickly recovered his syllabus and assignments from the LMS.

But he was baffled on how to recover the quizzes. The export format from the LMS looked like computer code. The thought of copying-and-pasting each question to a MS Word document seemed overwhelming. To complicate matters, a large number of the questions contained tables or images, which slowed down the salvaging process considerably. After spending half an hour to reassemble the first quiz alone, he decided to open a support ticket at Respondus.com and ask for advice.

If you’re a power-user of Respondus, the solution to Bill’s dilemma might seem obvious. But many users of Respondus tend to think of it as a tool for creating questions and assessments that are uploaded to a LMS, not as a way to download them and create Word files. The solution for Bill was, in fact, very easy. Here are the steps our support group recommended:

  1. Select the “Retrieval & Reports” tab in Respondus
  2. Select “Retrieve Questions”
  3. Choose the course, then the assessment from the pull-down list
  4. Provide a name for the file being created
  5. Click “Retrieve”

That’s it. The assessment is then downloaded, and all the tables and images will appear in the proper locations. To create a MS Word file from the assessment, simply switch to the “Preview & Publish” tab, select “Print Options,” and use the “Save to File” option.

The retrieval task in Respondus isn’t only useful for data recovery. It’s often used by instructors who simply want to download an assessment from one course, add or edit questions, and then publish the assessment to another course. It’s also handy for creating a printable version for a makeup test or a print version of an answer key. And, for those needing to move an assessment from one LMS to an entirely different one, the retrieval task is the first step in this time-saving process.

As for Bill, we’re betting that he now makes regular backups of his computer. As you should, too.