3rd STACK Professionals Network meeting report, July 2023

The 3rd STACK Professionals Network meeting took place on the 21st of July 2023 online.

Present at the meeting

Santiago Borio (SB), Chris Sangwin (CS), Konstantina Zerva (KZ), Maciej Matuszewski (MM), George Ionita (GI), Steffi Zegowitz (SZ), Aviva Lisann Lenth (ALL), George Ionita (GI), Luke Longworth (LL), Ruth Reynolds (RR), Juma Zevick (JZ), Sam Fearn (SF), Edmund Farrow (EF).

Apologies: Andreas Steiger, Tim Lowe, Jonas Lache.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to MM for taking notes.


  1. Welcome and introductions
  2. Updates from last meeting
  3. Workflows and processes
  4. Find a regular slot for the Network meeting
  5. Updating the STACK website updates
  6. STACK demo: a course/area in which STACK Network are admins
  7. Update to Moodle 4 and STACK latest version
  8. Meeting with EF re version control of questions
  9. AOB:
    • Other community groups: German Speaking, African Community Leadership, New Zealand and Australia? (TBD)
    • Projects page

1. Introductions:

  • SB works for IDEMS international
  • JZ works for IDEMS international, based in Kenya supporting local universities to integrate STACK
  • CS is the STACK developer and works at Edinburgh
  • EF works on STACK at the University of Edinburgh – people should meet with him (edmund.farrow@ed.ac.uk) regarding updates to version control and question sharing updates
  • ALL is from Germany and works with the German STACK users community
  • GI has worked at Bern and ETH Zurich, in particular on exams in STACK
  • KZ works at the University of Edinburgh with a focus on STACK question authoring and the STACK network
  • LL works at the University of Canterbury, NZ, managing STACK quizzes
  • MM is Technical Manager for Mathematical Sciences at Durham University, managing the Moodle server and doing question authoring
  • RR is a teaching focused lecturer at UCL who set up STACK at the university
  • SF is a teaching focused lecturer at Durham who set up STACK at the university
  • SZ is at TU Clausthal in Germany and works on the administration of Moodle and STACK

2. Updates since last meeting

CS – a new minor STACK version has been released. The testing form (STACK Question Dashboard) has been improved, there is a new question description field.

3. Workflows and processes

SB outlined the IDEMS questions writing process. We might want to introduce a similar process more widely. More discussion on people’s workflow preferences (and how this might influence changes we want to make to the question type) is required.

  • Teachers first provide new written static questions, a full worked solution, and any potential common errors that can be considered by the PRTs.
  • There is then a google docs “Question Template” where a description of how the question will be realized in STACK is described – the template is then reviewed by a number of reviewers who check that certain categories are in place (e.g. ‘has tests’, ‘has deployed variants’, ‘has description’, …).
  • There is a question tracker spreadsheet, a kanban board and a forum for discussion on questions and wider issues

Comments and discussion points: * There is an existing authoring guide in the STACK docs from CS (https://docs.stack-assessment.org/en/Authoring/Workflow/) * There are many different workflow choices depending on the question/institutional needs (e.g. should there be just one question with lots of randomisation, or many separate questions which are randomly selected at the quiz level). * Non-expert users may not be certain about the distinction between Moodle/ILIAS and STACK so our documentation and workflow should include information about this former element as well (e.g. how to create quizzes) * We need to investigate if there is an easy way of seeing how many times students take a quiz / how long it takes them to do it.

4. Find a regular slot for the Network meeting

Monthly meetings were previously proposed and this works for most people. The exact time will be confirmed by email.

5. Updating the STACK website updates

A new guide for updating the website is being prepared (see https://github.com/maths/stack-web; https://github.com/maths/stack-web/pull/26/). Live guide can be accessed here: https://stack-assessment.org/WebsiteDocs/WebsiteUpdates/

6. STACK demo

It would be useful to have a server with the network members having the “manager” level of permission. This can already be done on https://sandbox.moodle.idems.international/ for anyone who wants – contact SB to be made an admin on that site. KZ will create an area in the Demo Site with manager rights for network members to share materials easily.

7. Update to Moodle 4 and STACK latest version

Updates to Moodle 4 and the latest version of STACK is ongoing at various institutions. A recommendation was given to be careful about direct comparisons between floating points – this might break with the latest update. Some people are having issues with bulk tests not testing all the questions.

8. Meeting with EF re version control of questions

Individual meetings with the new member of the STACK development team, Edmund Farrow, are encouraged. This will help EF understand different user cases for his first project.

9. AOB:

Other community groups

German speakers and African networks are being set up.

There are likely to be annual European meetings, and annual African meetings (perhaps an Australasian and South American one as well in the future?). Then one of these could be designated as the International conference venue.

ICME 15 is in Australia in July next year – it might be a good opportunity to build connections there.

Projects page in STACK website

A new projects page could be added to the STACK website; this has been drafted in a branch in the website repo. Currently it contains only have 2 but if people have ongoing projects they can submit them to the branch so we have enough content to justify having a projects page.