Name: Meadowlark Bradsher
Project title: Microformat conversion: GIFT to Mediawiki
Contact/working info 
Typical working hours: 9-5
IRC or IM networks/handle(s):
Project summary 
This is a project to write conversion algorithms that translate from the GIFT microformat to the Mediawiki microformat. Microformats are very simple, very high level, human readable formats designed to aid non-programmers in writing formatted data. Writing a microformat is an alternative to writing a UI (User Interface). In this case the formatted data are quiz questions and Mediawiki has one as does Moodle (which is called GIFT). The purpose of this project is to write code that can convert GIFT microformat to Mediawiki microformat, or alternately simply to support GIFT as a microformat.
The value of doing this can be expressed on a few levels:
- The Importance of Assessment: "Assessment" is the word currently being used to describe what Quiz.php does. It provides feedback to the learner, and to instructors, about the status of a learner's academic transformation. For hundreds of years it had been done in the same way but in the last 30 years that the Assessment Movement has been growing, roughly concurrently with the growth of information technology. Because of information technology, like many things, it now makes sense to have a full time discipline dedicated to the study of assessments. The academics that support this idea have been growing and some colleges and universities are running pilot programs based upon the research of these academics. Therefore, since mediawiki is a locus of the knowledge commons, it would make sense that it pays attention to the value of assessment advances.
- The Importance of Assessment on Mediawiki: One of the forms of information that Wikimedia explores is that of the lesson-form of content on Wikiversity, a structure designed particularly for information with a high learning curve. However because it has a community based orientation these lessons-structures are designed for self-motivated learners, not for students with a motivated instructor and a grade as incentive. Interestingly in academia the pedagogy is shifting from instruction-centric learning to experiential learning, an increasingly learner directed pedagogy (see experiential learning. That means that academia is moving closer to the autodidactic learning that Wikimedia seeks to facilitate. Any advances that are learned by Wikimedia as it explores the low-stakes, self-directed learner, is going to automatically be relevant to work on learner-centric pedagogy as well. In an odd way Wikimedia, and information sources similar to it, are in a unique position to advance all of academia.
- The Importance of GIFT and Moodle: In much the same way that only one information institution will often predominately represent a single concept, with Amazon representing internet retail, Google representing search, Wikimedia represents the idea of the information commons, information that serves a community, like a public park or a road may serve a community. Moodle in turn largely represents the open source Learning Management System, the system that connects paid instructors with paying students. The difficulty with the social behavior that creates this kind of phenomenon, is that it can either stifle innovation or facilitate it depending on how the dominating institution behaves. While it is stifling if the institution seeks only to maintain its dominance, whereas it is perhaps more beneficial if there is a dominant institution in information-space that shares its resources with smaller parties than if there was none at all. Otherwise with everyone still working either in silos or with modest efforts to work cooperatively, innovation is prevented from lateral movement much of the time by differences in protocols, code, and best practices. The act of creating conversion code is a way of prevent the forking of creative energy that is generated by instructors and amateurs alike in creating assessment content. It is a modest step but it signals editors that conceptually a commons exists for assessment content, even if it is not within a single entity, and it allows Wikiversity editors, and other educational Mediawiki users, access to Moodle's assessment content.
About you 
I am strongly attracted to autodidacticism, something I have worked at trying to figure how to maximize for myself. My interests include serious games for democratic collaboration, personal computer adaptive testing, visualization work along the lines of Edward Tufte, the reduction of information asymmetry in everyday consumer and citizen life, the potential for more cross-disciplinary knowledge, and cognitive science topics that pertain to learning such as the spacing effect. Naturally, even one of these interests in this range of extra-curricular subjects begs for competent self-educating skills, and that brings me back to my initial interest, autodidacticism. I am interested in anything that appears to make high learning-curve information easier to process and share, and I am equally interested in applying it to develop my own interests.
On a more specific level I have interests in computer programming. In reality my interest is in information which in my mind is inseparable from computer programming. I am currently working on an undergrad in computer science with an emphasis on information. I see education as a domain of interest in this field, in particular computer-enabled consumption of information whether for education or social reasons such as a better democratic process.
My participation with Wikimedia started as a consumer of Wikipedia information. I turned to Wikiversity out of frustration with self-learning problems such as picking up a Wikipedia topic and not understanding it, nor knowing what I need to understand to understand it. Wikiversity didn't have the content I had hoped for so I started imagining the solutions I thought I needed, or that I thought Wikiversity needed. I haven't been here long but my education on the context of this subject as well of my ideas and beliefs surrounding assessment and self-education have grown exponentially since I began. This to me is a sign that I am onto something fulfilling.
Required deliverables 
- An object designed to reading GIFT microformat and populating variables
- An object that can write the results when Parser is called thus Quiz is called.
If time permits 
- Exportation of Wikiversity to GIFT format
- A conversion to XML of Wikiversity and an XSLT engine (easier to maintain and GIFT already has a XML export).
Project schedule 
This is going to be the hardest part for me on this proposal. I have so little experience with Quiz.php but it looks mostly readable to me. Prior to the event I hope to have completed a much more granular project plan with specific heuristics. This is merely tentative.
- Week of May 24 Start with design, build empty functions (classes too if extending Quiz and/or Question)
- Week of May 31 Begin algorithm for identifying question types.
- Week of June 7 Continue on question type identification.
- Week of June 14 Test question type identification.
- Week of June 21 Work on each question type. Test. Iterate.
- Week of June 28 Work on each question type. Test. Iterate.
- Week of July 5 Work on each question type. Test. Iterate.
- Week of July 12 Work on each question type. Test. Iterate.
- Week of July 19 Work on comments, text blocks, and feedback. Test. Evaluate Project for Midterm.
- Week of July 26 Work on point configuration, and markup. Test.
- Week of August 2 Test. Provide documentation.
Any other info 
As of this time I have one document. It compares GIFT microformat with Wikimedia's microformat and looks for problems without yet committing to any solutions.