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A Parent's Guide to Hacking Test Taking during Covid19



Index

Introduction

Covid19 hit like a tsunami. Many economies have been shutdown and many parents in places all over the world are now realizing that they are the primary educator for their children.

It has been nice in the corporate world, where there was a strong belief that remote work could not be successful, to see such a rapid change. As when remote work was the only option everyone immediately pivoted. And by most accounts many organizations are more successful in this model.

You know what has also been interesting? Watching as parents struggle to help teach their kids. And seeing other parents realize just how much they’ve undervalued the teachers in their lives. As hard as Covid19 is, it has yielded really interesting conversations. As many parents have realized that their child’s school or teacher is not the responsible party for their child’s education and that the parent has been and always is the primary educator, role model, and support agent.

Covid19 is revealing how many of us have forgotten this.

Learning to Code

My buddy Marcus wrote a kids book that introduces children to high level programming concepts. And since my 10 year old broke her ankle a couple of weeks back, she has been in the dumps. We’ve been working on programming so I bought her this book and she totally enjoyed it.

I also thought it’d be cool to write some simple testing software for some projects Marcus is working on but along the way something magical happened.

TestBuilder

I started writing Test Builder, a simple command line application that uses YAML to faciliate the building and taking of tests. Being as my kids and wife are Oregon natives, I decided that the first test I’d create would be about the Oregon Trail. Original, I know.

But something interesting happened. I needed someone to try it out so of course I snagged my kids. After taking the tests my 10yo said “I want make a test myself."

Now, my kids have told me that they want to learn to code. The above book purchase is just another step in that direction. And though I am not sure any one of my kids will choose to take up programming or computers as their profession, I am however confident about a few things. If my kids can understand data structures, statistics, and how to research, they will most definately have an advantage in life.

And after hearing her statement that is when the light bulb clicked. “You can make your own test!" I exclaimed.

YAML

In programming, YAML is generally used for configuration. It tells an application or development environment how to behave. And TestBuilder expects the author to write tests using YAML files. Thus I started to teach my 10yo about TestBuilder and YAML and I noticed some side benefits in how she started to think.


By the way, let me email you what I learn about leadership, infosec, and product!

(It is a friendly list, I won't be a jerk with your private info)

Tutorial

Create a new file called example.yml.

You start by naming the test using a name: element.

name: Oregon Trail

Add a description with the description: element.

description: A quiz on the Oregon Trail

Then you simply append a question. Notice how is_answer: true denotes which answer is correct.

- question: Around how long is the Oregon Trail?
  type: multiple-choice
  answers:
  - answer: 100 miles
  - answer: 500 miles
  - answer: 1,000 miles
  - answer: 2,000 miles
    is_answer: true
  - answer: 4,000 miles

Simply continue to append questions and your test will grow. Here is the complete example.yml.

name: Oregon Trail
description: A 10 question quiz on the Oregon Trail
questions:
- question: 'True or False: The main danger to pioneers on the trail was Native Americans.'
  type: true-false
  answers:
  - answer: "True"
  - answer: "False"
    is_answer: true
- question: Around how long is the Oregon Trail?
  type: multiple-choice
  answers:
  - answer: 100 miles
  - answer: 500 miles
  - answer: 1,000 miles
  - answer: 2,000 miles
    is_answer: true
  - answer: 4,000 miles

Now feed the file to TestBuilder.

$ ./tb -file example.yml
Demo

Conclusion

TestBuilder is up on GitHub . It runs on Mac/Windows/Linux and is pretty straightforward. It’d be nice to find some other kids for my kids to virtually meet and create some test buddies. Swapping tests to stump all the parents while building YAML files.