Flows

All interactive content in RELATE is part of a flow. Relate uses the made-up word “flow” to denote an interactive experience that can be any of the following:

  • A quiz

  • A few pages of introductory text, combined with some videos

  • An exam

  • A long-form homework assignment

And possibly many more different things. Technically, a flow consists of multiple webpages, each of which may allow the participant some type of interaction, such as submitting answers to questions. All interactions of the participant with a flow constitute a session. A participant may have multiple sessions per flow, corresponding to, for example, being able to take the same quiz multiple times.

This chapter describes how flows are defined from the instructor’s perspective. This consists of two main parts. The first part is defining the interactions themselves, by providing content for the flow pages. The second consists of describing what participants are allowed to do, and what grades they are to receive for their interactions. The system allows tremendous latitude in defining these rules.

Things that can be decided by flow rules include the following:

  • Is student allowed only one or multiple sessions?

  • Is the student allowed to review past sessions?

  • What are the deadlines involved and how much credit is received for completing a flow?

  • Is a participant shown the correct answer and/or the correctness of their answer? When are they shown this information? (Right after they submit their answer or only after the deadline passes or perhaps right after they have submitted their work for grading?)

An Example

title: "RELATE Test Quiz"
description: |

    # RELATE Test Quiz

rules:
    # (Things behind '#' hash marks are comments.)
    # Allow students to start two attempts at the quiz before the deadline.
    # After that, only allow access to previously started quizzes.

    start:
    -
        if_after: 2015-03-06 23:59:00
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_sessions_than: 2
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        may_start_new_session: False
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    # Allow students to submit quiz answers before the deadline.
    # After the deadline, the quiz becomes read-only. (The 'modify'
    # permission goes away.)

    access:
    -
        if_after: 2015-03-06 23:59:02
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, see_correctness]

    -
        permissions: [view, see_correctness, see_answer_after_submission]

    # Record grades under the machine-readable name 'test_quiz'.
    # If there is more than one grade, use the maximum.

    grade_identifier: test_quiz
    grade_aggregation_strategy: max_grade

    grading:
    -   credit_percent: 100

pages:

-
    type: Page
    id: welcome
    content: |

        # Welcome to the test quiz for RELATE!

        Don't be scared.

-
    type: ChoiceQuestion
    id: color
    prompt: |

        # Colors

        What color is the sun?

    choices:

    - Blue
    - Green
    - ~CORRECT~ Yellow

completion_text: |

    # See you in class!

    Thanks for completing the quiz.

Overall Structure of a Flow

When described in YAML, a flow has the following components:

class course.content.FlowDesc(entries: Dict)
title

A plain-text title of the flow

description

A description in RELATE markup shown on the start page of the flow.

completion_text

(Optional) Some text in RELATE markup shown once a student has completed the flow.

notify_on_submit

(Optional) A list of email addresses which to notify about a flow submission by a participant.

rules

(Optional) Some rules governing students’ use and grading of the flow. See Flow rules.

groups

A list of FlowPageGroupDesc. Exactly one of groups or pages must be given.

pages

A list of pages. If you specify this, a single FlowPageGroupDesc will be implicitly created. Exactly one of groups or pages must be given.

Flow rules

An Example

Here’s a commented example:

rules:
    # Rules that govern when a new session may be started and whether
    # existing sessions may be listed.

    start:
    -
        # Members of the listed roles may start a new session of this
        # flow if they have fewer than 2 existing sessions if the current
        # time is before the event 'end_week 1'.

        if_before: end_week 1
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_sessions_than: 2
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        # Otherwise, no new sessions will be allowed,
        # but existing ones may be listed.

        may_start_new_session: False
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    # Rules that govern what a user may do with an existing session.
    access:
    -
         # Before the event 'end_week 2', a user may view, submit answers
         # to the flow, and see the grade they received for their answers.

         if_before: end_week 2
         permissions: [view, modify, see_correctness]

    -
         # Afterwards, they will also be allowed to see the correct answer.
         permissions: [view, modify, see_correctness, see_answer_after_submission]

    # Rules that govern how (permanent) grades are generated from the
    # results of a flow.

    # Grades for this flow are recorded under grade identifier 'la_quiz'.
    # Multiple such grades (if present) are aggregated by taking their maximum.

    grade_identifier: la_quiz
    grade_aggregation_strategy: max_grade

    grading:
    -
        # If the user completes the flow before the event 'end_week 1', they
        # receive full credit.

        if_completed_before: end_week 1
        credit_percent: 100

    -
        # Otherwise, no credit is given.
        credit_percent: 0

Overall structure

class course.content.FlowRulesDesc(entries: Dict)

Found in the rules attribute of a FlowDesc.

start

Rules that govern when a new session may be started and whether existing sessions may be listed.

A list of FlowSessionStartRuleDesc

Rules are tested from top to bottom. The first rule whose conditions apply determines the access.

access

Rules that govern what a user may do while they are interacting with an existing session.

A list of FlowSessionAccessRuleDesc.

Rules are tested from top to bottom. The first rule whose conditions apply determines the access.

Grading-Related

grade_identifier

(Required) The identifier of the grade to be generated once the participant completes the flow. If null, no grade is generated.

grade_aggregation_strategy

(Required if grade_identifier is not null)

One of grade_aggregation_strategy.

grading

Rules that govern how (permanent) overall grades are generated from the results of a flow. These rules apply once a flow session ends/is submitted for grading. See Life cycle.

(Required if grade_identifier is not null) A list of FlowSessionGradingRuleDesc

Rules are tested from top to bottom. The first rule whose conditions apply determines the access.

Rules for starting new sessions

class course.content.FlowSessionStartRuleDesc(entries: Dict)

Rules that govern when a new session may be started and whether existing sessions may be listed.

Found in the start attribute of FlowRulesDesc.

Conditions

if_after

(Optional) A datespec that determines a date/time after which this rule applies.

if_before

(Optional) A datespec that determines a date/time before which this rule applies.

if_has_role

(Optional) A list of a subset of the roles defined in the course, by default unenrolled, ta, student, instructor.

if_has_participation_tags_any

(Optional) A list of participation tags. Rule applies when the participation has at least one tag in this list.

if_has_participation_tags_all

(Optional) A list of participation tags. Rule applies if only the participation’s tags include all items in this list.

if_in_facility

(Optional) Name of a facility known to the RELATE web page. This rule allows (for example) restricting flow starting based on whether a user is physically located in a computer-based testing center (which RELATE can recognize based on IP ranges).

if_has_in_progress_session

(Optional) A Boolean (True/False) value, indicating that the rule only applies if the participant has an in-progress session.

if_has_session_tagged

(Optional) An identifier (or null) indicating that the rule only applies if the participant has a session with the corresponding tag.

if_has_fewer_sessions_than

(Optional) An integer. The rule applies if the participant has fewer than this number of sessions.

if_has_fewer_tagged_sessions_than

(Optional) An integer. The rule applies if the participant has fewer than this number of sessions with access rule tags.

if_signed_in_with_matching_exam_ticket

(Optional) The rule applies if the participant signed in with an exam ticket matching this flow.

Rules specified

may_start_new_session

(Mandatory) A Boolean (True/False) value indicating whether, if the rule applies, the participant may start a new session.

may_list_existing_sessions

(Mandatory) A Boolean (True/False) value indicating whether, if the rule applies, the participant may view a list of existing sessions.

tag_session

(Optional) An identifier that will be applied to a newly-created session as a “tag”. This can be used by FlowSessionAccessRuleDesc.if_has_tag and FlowSessionGradingRuleDesc.if_has_tag.

default_expiration_mode

(Optional) One of flow_session_expiration_mode. The expiration mode applied when a session is first created or rolled over.

Rules about accessing and interacting with a flow

class course.content.FlowSessionAccessRuleDesc(entries: Dict)

Rules that govern what a user may do with an existing session.

Found in the access attribute of FlowRulesDesc.

Conditions

if_after

(Optional) A datespec that determines a date/time after which this rule applies.

if_before

(Optional) A datespec that determines a date/time before which this rule applies.

if_started_before

(Optional) A datespec. Rule applies if the session was started before this time.

if_has_role

(Optional) A list of a subset of [unenrolled, ta, student, instructor].

if_has_participation_tags_any

(Optional) A list of participation tags. Rule applies when the participation has at least one tag in this list.

if_has_participation_tags_all

(Optional) A list of participation tags. Rule applies if only the participation’s tags include all items in this list.

if_in_facility

(Optional) Name of a facility known to the RELATE web page. This rule allows (for example) restricting flow access based on whether a user is physically located in a computer-based testing center (which RELATE can recognize based on IP ranges).

if_has_tag

(Optional) Rule applies if session has this tag (see FlowSessionStartRuleDesc.tag_session), an identifier.

if_in_progress

(Optional) A Boolean (True/False) value. Rule applies if the session’s in-progress status matches this Boolean value.

if_completed_before

(Optional) A datespec. Rule applies if the session was completed before this time.

if_expiration_mode

(Optional) One of flow_session_expiration_mode. Rule applies if the expiration mode (see Life cycle) matches.

if_session_duration_shorter_than_minutes

(Optional) The rule applies if the current session has been going on for less than the specified number of minutes. Fractional values (e.g. “0.5”) are accepted here.

if_signed_in_with_matching_exam_ticket

(Optional) The rule applies if the participant signed in with an exam ticket matching this flow.

Rules specified

permissions

A list of flow_permission.

submit_answer and end_session are automatically removed from a finished (i.e. not ‘in-progress’) session.

message

(Optional) Some text in RELATE markup that is shown to the student in an ‘alert’ box at the top of the page if this rule applies.

Access permission bits

class course.constants.flow_permission
view

If present, the participant may view flow pages.

submit_answer

If present, the participant may submit answers to prompts provided on a flow page.

end_session

If present, the participant may end their flow session and receive an overall grade.

change_answer

Grants permission to change an already-graded answer, which may then be graded again. Useful for course.page.PythonCodeQuestion to allow iterative debugging. Requires submit_answer to also be present in order to be meaningful. (If a participant may not submit answers in the first place, the ability to change answers is moot.)

see_correctness

If present, the participant will be shown to what extent their submitted answer is correct. (See submit_answer.)

see_answer_before_submission

If present, shows the correct answer to the participant even before they have submitted an answer of their own.

see_answer_after_submission

If present, shows the correct answer to the participant after they have submitted an answer of their own (and are no longer able to change it).

cannot_see_flow_result

If present, an overall result/grade for the flow will not be shown at the end of a flow session.

set_roll_over_expiration_mode

Grants permission to let a student choose to let a flow “expire” into the then-current set of access rules instead of into being submitted for grading.

See Life cycle.

see_session_time

Allows the participant to see the duration for which the session has been going on.

lock_down_as_exam_session

(Optional) Once any page of the flow has been viewed, access to all content except for this session on this RELATE instance will be denied.

send_email_about_flow_page

(Optional) If present, the participant can send interaction emails to course staffs for questions for each page with that permission.

Determining how final (overall) grades of flows are computed

class course.content.FlowSessionGradingRuleDesc(entries: Dict)

Rules that govern how (permanent) grades are generated from the results of a flow.

Found in the grading attribute of FlowRulesDesc.

Conditions

if_has_role

(Optional) A list of a subset of [unenrolled, ta, student, instructor].

if_has_participation_tags_any

(Optional) A list of participation tags. Rule applies when the participation has at least one tag in this list.

if_has_participation_tags_all

(Optional) A list of participation tags. Rule applies if only the participation’s tags include all items in this list.

if_started_before

(Optional) A datespec. Rule applies if the session was started before this time.

if_has_tag

(Optional) Rule applies if session has this tag (see FlowSessionStartRuleDesc.tag_session), an identifier.

if_completed_before

(Optional) A datespec. Rule applies if the session was completed before this time.

When evaluating this condition for in-progress sessions, the current time, or, if use_last_activity_as_completion_time is set, the time of the last activity is used.

Since September 2017, this respects use_last_activity_as_completion_time.

Rules specified

credit_percent

(Optional) A number indicating the percentage of credit assigned for this flow. Defaults to 100 if not present.

due

A datespec indicating the due date of the flow. This is shown to the participant and also used to batch-expire ‘past-due’ flows.

generates_grade

(Optional) A Boolean indicating whether a grade will be recorded when this flow is ended. Note that the value of this rule must never change over the lifetime of a flow. I.e. a flow that, at some point during its lifetime, may have been set to generate a grade must always be set to generate a grade. Defaults to true.

use_last_activity_as_completion_time

(Optional) A Boolean indicating whether the last time a participant made a change to their flow should be used as the completion time.

Defaults to false to match past behavior. true is probably the more sensible value for this.

description

(Optional) A description of this set of grading rules being applied to the flow. Shown to the participant on the flow start page.

max_points

(Optional, an integer or floating point number if given) The number of points on the flow which constitute “100% of the achievable points”. If not given, this is automatically computed by summing point values from all constituent pages.

This may be used to ‘grade out of N points’, where N is a number that is lower than the actually achievable count.

max_points_enforced_cap

(Optional, an integer or floating point number if given) No participant will have a grade higher than this recorded for this flow. This may be used to limit the amount of ‘extra credit’ achieved beyond max_points.

bonus_points

(Optional, an integer or floating point number if given) This number of points will be added to every participant’s score.

class course.constants.grade_aggregation_strategy

A strategy for aggregating multiple grades into one.

max_grade

Use the maximum of the achieved grades for each attempt.

avg_grade

Use the average of the achieved grades for each attempt.

min_grade

Use the minimum of the achieved grades for each attempt.

use_earliest

Use the first of the achieved grades for each attempt.

use_latest

Use the last of the achieved grades for each attempt.

Flow pages

Grouping

Each flow consists of a number of page groups, each of which is made up of individual Flow pages.

The purpose of page groups is to allow shuffling and random selection of some subset of pages. For example, this functionality would allow you to have a flow consisting of:

  • a fixed introduction page (that is always at the beginning)

  • a group of exam questions randomly selected from a bigger pool

  • a fixed final page (that may ask the student to, say, affirm academic honesty)

Each of these would be a separate ‘group’.

Each group allows the following attributes:

class course.content.FlowPageGroupDesc(entries: Dict)
id

(Required) A symbolic name for the page group.

pages

(Required) A list of Flow pages

shuffle

(Optional) A boolean (True/False) indicating whether the order of pages should be as in the list pages or determined by random shuffling

max_page_count

(Optional) An integer limiting the page count of this group to a certain value. Allows selection of a random subset by combining with shuffle.

Per-page permissions

The granted access permissions for the entire flow (see FlowSessionAccessRuleDesc) can be modified on a per-page basis. This happens in the access_rules sub-block of each page, e.g. in course.page.ChoiceQuestion.access_rules:

class course.content.PageAccessRules
add_permissions

A list of flow_permission values that are granted in addition to the globally granted ones.

remove_permissions

A list of flow_permission values that are not granted for this page even if they are granted by the global flow permissions.

For example, to grant permission to revise an answer on a course.page.PythonCodeQuestion, one might type:

type: PythonCodeQuestion
id: addition
access_rules:
    add_permissions:
        - change_answer
value: 1

Life cycle

class course.constants.flow_session_expiration_mode
end

End the session upon expiration. Participants may always choose this mode.

roll_over

Upon expiration, reprocess the session start rules and treat the session as if it was started the moment of expiration. This may be used to ‘roll over’ into another set of grading rules, say ones assigning less credit for homework turned in late.

Allowed by flow_permission.set_roll_over_expiration_mode.

Sample Rule Sets

RELATE’s rule system is quite flexible and allows many different styles of interaction. Some of what’s possible may not be readily apparent from the reference documentation above, so the following examples serve to illustrate the possibilities.

Simple Single-Submission Assignment with a Due Date

The rules for this can be written as follows:

title: "An assignment"
description: |

    # An Assignment

rules:
    start:
    -
        if_before: my_assignment_due
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_sessions_than: 1
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        may_start_new_session: False
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    access:
    -
        # 'modify'-type permissions are automatically removed at
        # session end. Add the following if desired:
        #
        # see_correctness
        # change_answer
        #
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session]

    grade_identifier: "my_assignment"
    grade_aggregation_strategy: max_grade

    grading:
    -
        credit_percent: 100
        due: my_assignment_due
        description: "Full credit"

pages:

-   ....

Exam

This rule set describes the following:

  • An exam that can be taken at most once in a specified facility.

  • Instructors can preview and take the exam from anywhere, at any time, as many times as needed.

  • No feedback on correctness is provided during the exam.

The rules for this can be written as follows:

title: "Midterm exam 1"
description: |
    # Midterm exam 1

rules:
    grade_identifier: exam_1
    grade_aggregation_strategy: use_earliest

    start:
    -
        if_has_role: [instructor]
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        if_in_facility: "cbtf"
        if_has_role: [student, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_sessions_than: 1
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        if_in_facility: "cbtf"
        if_has_role: [student, instructor]
        may_start_new_session: False
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        may_start_new_session: False
        may_list_existing_sessions: False

    access:
    -
        if_after: end_of_class
        if_has_role: [unenrolled, student]
        permissions: []

    -
        if_in_facility: "cbtf"
        if_has_role: [student, instructor]
        if_after: exam 1 - 1 week
        if_before: end:exam 1 + 2 weeks
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, cannot_see_flow_result, lock_down_as_exam_session]

    -
        if_has_role: [instructor]
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, cannot_see_flow_result, lock_down_as_exam_session]

    -
        permissions: []

    grading:
    -   generates_grade: true

pages:

-   ....

Pre-Lecture Quiz with Multiple Attempts and Practice Sessions

This rule set describes the following:

  • A quiz is due at the start of a lecture.

  • After that deadline, the quiz remains available to take for half-credit for a week.

  • After that week, the quiz will remain available for practice, but no attempt will be counted for credit.

  • Three for-credit attempts are allowed. Any attempts beyond that are simply for practice and not counted for credit.

  • Visitors/unenrolled students can view the questions, but not interact with them.

  • Feedback on correctness is provided after an answer is submitted.

  • The correct answer is revealed after completion.

The rules for this can be written as follows:

title: "Quiz: Lecture 13"
description: |

    # Quiz: Lecture 13

rules:
    tags:
    - regular
    - practice

    start:
    -
        if_has_role: [unenrolled]
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: False

    -
        if_after: lecture 13 - 4 weeks
        if_before: lecture 13 + 1 week
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_sessions_than: 3
        tag_session: regular
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        tag_session: practice
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    access:

    -
        if_has_role: [unenrolled]
        permissions: [view]
        message: |

            It does not look like you are enrolled in the class, that's why you
            cannot make changes below. Please verify that you are signed in,
            and then go back to the class web page and find the big blue "Enroll"
            button near the top.

    -
        if_after: end_of_class
        if_has_role: [student]
        permissions: []

    -
        if_has_role: [student, instructor, ta]
        if_in_progress: True
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, see_correctness]

    -
        if_has_role: [student, instructor, ta]
        if_in_progress: False
        permissions: [view, see_correctness, see_answer_after_submission]

    grade_identifier: "quiz_13"
    grade_aggregation_strategy: max_grade

    grading:

    -
        if_has_tag: practice
        description: "Practice session"
        generates_grade: false

    -
        if_completed_before: lecture 13
        description: "Graded session at full credit"
        due: lecture 13

    -
        if_completed_before: lecture 13 + 1 week
        description: "Graded session at half credit"
        credit_percent: 50
        due: lecture 13 + 1 week

    -
        credit_percent: 0

pages:

-   ....

Homework Set with Grace Period

This rule set describes the following:

  • Homework that is due at a time given by an event hw_due 2.

  • Visitors/unenrolled students can view the questions, but not interact with them.

  • For-credit sessions are tagged as “full-credit” (main) or “half-credit” (grace) and earn credit correspondingly.

  • Students are allowed to decide whether they would like to auto-submit their work at the deadline or keep working.

  • Due dates are shown as given by hw_due 2 and a week after that.

  • At the deadlines (or soon after them), an instructor “expires” the sessions using a button in the grading interface, thereby actually “realizing” the deadline.

  • Correct solutions are revealed after the main deadline passes.

The rules for this can be written as follows:

title: "Homework 2"
description: |

    # Homework 2

rules:
    tags:
    - main
    - grace

    start:
    -
        if_has_role: [unenrolled]
        tag_session: null
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: False

    -
        if_after: hw_due 2 - 3 weeks
        if_before: hw_due 2
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_tagged_sessions_than: 1
        tag_session: main
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        if_after: hw_due 2
        if_before: hw_due 2 + 7 days
        if_has_role: [student, ta, instructor]
        if_has_fewer_tagged_sessions_than: 1
        tag_session: grace
        may_start_new_session: True
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    -
        may_start_new_session: False
        may_list_existing_sessions: True

    access:
    -
        if_has_tag: null
        permissions: [view]

    -
        if_after: end_of_class
        if_has_role: [student]
        permissions: []

    -
        # Unfinished full-credit session marked 'end' after due date.
        if_has_tag: main
        if_in_progress: True
        if_after: hw_due 2
        if_expiration_mode: end
        message: |
          The due date has passed. If you have marked your session to
          end at the deadline, it will receive full credit, but it
          will end automatically fairly soon. If you would like to
          continue working, please mark your session to roll over
          into 50% credit by selecting 'Keep session and apply new rules'.
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, see_correctness, change_answer, set_roll_over_expiration_mode]

    -
        # Unfinished full-credit session marked 'roll_over' before due date.
        if_has_tag: main
        if_in_progress: True
        if_expiration_mode: roll_over
        message: |
          You have marked your session to roll over to 50% credit at the due
          date. If you would like to have your current answers graded as-is
          (and recieve full credit for them), please select 'End session
          and grade'.
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, see_correctness, change_answer, set_roll_over_expiration_mode]

    -
        # Unfinished Full-credit session before due date.
        if_has_tag: main
        if_in_progress: True
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, see_correctness, change_answer, set_roll_over_expiration_mode]

    -
        # Full-credit session before due date. Don't show answer.
        if_has_tag: main
        if_before: hw_due 2
        if_in_progress: False
        permissions: [view, see_correctness]

    -
        # Full-credit session after due date? Reveal answer.
        if_has_tag: main
        if_after: hw_due 2
        if_in_progress: False
        permissions: [view, see_correctness, see_answer_before_submission, see_answer_after_submission]

    -
        # You're allowed to keep working during the grace period
        if_has_tag: grace
        if_in_progress: True
        permissions: [view, submit_answer, end_session, see_correctness, change_answer, see_answer_before_submission, see_answer_after_submission]

    -
        if_has_tag: grace
        if_in_progress: False
        permissions: [view, see_correctness, see_answer_before_submission, see_answer_after_submission]

    grade_identifier: "hw_2"
    grade_aggregation_strategy: max_grade

    grading:
    -
        if_has_tag: null
        description: "No-credit preview session"
        generates_grade: false

    -
        if_has_tag: main
        credit_percent: 100
        due: hw_due 2
        description: "Full credit"

    -
        if_has_tag: grace
        credit_percent: 50
        due: hw_due 2 + 7 days
        description: "Half credit"

    -
        credit_percent: 0

pages:

-   ....