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Re: Timed Notebooks for Student Take-home examinations

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg60368] Re: [mg60289] Timed Notebooks for Student Take-home examinations
  • From: Igor Antonio <igora at>
  • Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 03:27:37 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
  • References: <>
  • Reply-to: igora at
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

I'm probably misunderstanding something, so correct me if I'm wrong:

the package would reside on the student's computer and it would generate 
a notebook for the student to complete.  At the time the student 
"requests" the notebook from your package, you write an encoded string 
to the notebook itself that basically assigns it a timestamp.  Then the 
student would upload/send you that notebook and you would decode that 
string? (encoded string + time of upload = time spent) Is that the idea?

A student could simply request a notebook from the package twice, say 
the second request 3 hours later.  He would complete the assignment, 
open the notebook in any text editor and overwrite the encoded string 
with the new timestamp.

I believe the best way to have this sort of thing is by having a system 
(say a website) where you can keep track of when a file is downloaded 
and uploaded and *you* keep track of the timestamps.  This obviously 
deviates from your idea of creating a Mathematica package for that, but 
that's what schools seem to use.

Like Chris mentioned, a web Mathematica application seems more 
appropriate.  To prevent/diminish sharing of answers between students, 
you'd setup a web Mathematica application that required user 
authentication. Then, you'd be generate problems with different "initial 
values" for each student (or groups of students, whatever).


W. Craig Carter wrote:
> I wonder if anyone has implemented this, if not I will give it a 
> try.
> I'd like to create a template and package for student take home 
> exams.
> The student would need to finish the notebook in a fixed amount of 
> time.  The instructor, who has encoded the package, would be able to 
> determine how much time the student has used to finish the exam by 
> decoding a string that is written just before the notebook exits.
> It would need to be moderately safe from cheating.
> Advice would be most welcome.
> W. Craig Carter
> Lord Foundation Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
> MIT, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering 13-5018  77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 USA
> 617-253-6048  ccarter at


Igor C. Antonio
Wolfram Research, Inc.

To email me personally, remove the dash.

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