I met with Dan today to discuss his experiences using MarkUs and what suggestions he would have for improving its accessibility. His first comment was that MarkUs is a mess, enough so that he ended up hacking the databases instead of using the web interface for most things. However, it’s encouraging that MarkUs isn’t the grading system that he finds the most frustrating 😉
Here are the most important issues that he would like dealt with:
- Currently, in order to read annotations, you have to mouse over the corresponding line of code. It would be great to have an alternate format, perhaps available for download by instructors, that inserts the annotations as comments into the code files themselves. This would make it easy for blind users to review annotations in context.
- There is a problem with the groups and graders tab that prevents him from adding, removing or moving students between groups. Since we are planning to redo this section of MarkUs anyway, that is a perfect opportunity to make sure the new groups page is accessible! It would also be good to be able to download and upload group lists in a more palatable format, something that begins by listing the students in the group for example. The format (this may not be the same as the new csv format) that Dan was using had the “group_####” name followed by a large list of TAs, before finally eventually getting to the students that are actually in the group, so Dan found it difficult to navigate.
- It would be great to give instructors a link to the SVN repositories of groups, and maybe a way to download a file containing all the repositories of every student. Dan would be much more able to commit a file with comments it to a student’s repository than he would be able to use our visual annotation tools.
It might not be feasible to do everything that would help with accessibility, but if we can do some of these things then maybe we can stop Dan from editing databases! He is very interested in helping us out and will set up a development environment on his machine so that he can keep track of our progress and make suggestions.
It was good to hear that some issues have already been fixed. Dan wanted a way to re-upload rubrics after he had downloaded them, and the latest MarkUs supports that. He also very much wanted to be able to reorder criteria without using a mouse, and that fix is currently on ReviewBoard. I’m really happy that someone will be able to immediately benefit from my code!