Google/Summer of Code 2010 Proposal: GIFT Conversion

For more information about GIFT please see and



Name: Meadowlark Bradsher
Email: meadowlarkb at gmail dot com
Project title: Microformat conversion: GIFT to Mediawiki

Contact/working info


Timezone: UTC-08
Typical working hours: 9-5
IRC or IM networks/handle(s):

Project summary


The Pitch


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. 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.

Project Benefits


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, primarily through grades or summative assessments, but in the last 25 years the Assessment Movement has been growing, roughly concurrently with the growth of information technology, to ask in general how formative assessment, or assessment as feedback, can do more than it is doing. Like many things, because of information technology it now makes sense to develop a discipline dedicated to the study of formative assessments, and this is what the Assessment Movement represents. Since this is the only type of assessment that Wikiversity might engage in it makes sense that it too should be interested in this movement and that this interest might be reflected in it's own Quiz extension.
  • The Specific 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 is written exclusively by a community these lesson-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 kind of learning that Wikimedia seeks to facilitate. It seems as though 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. Wikimedia, and information sources similar to it, are in a unique position to aid this pursuit in academia.
  • The Importance of GIFT and Moodle: When a community is working either in silos or with only modest efforts to work cooperatively, innovation is prevented from lateral movement much of the time by differences in protocols, code, and best practices. The concept of crowd sourced lesson-format content has not yet reached a level that would favor a single website, possibly because of the high learning curve involved with writing this kind of information, but the act of creating conversion code is one way to prevent the forking of creative energy that is generated by instructors and amateurs alike in creating assessment content. It is a step that allows Wikiversity editors, and other educational Mediawiki users, access to Moodle's assessment content, and signals cooperation with other institutions instead of competition for developing and perhaps sharing a concept of an educational commons.

About me


I am strongly attracted to autodidacticism, something I have worked at trying to figure how to maximize for myself. I am however a full time student, currently attending City College of San Francisco. Since I am still the equivalent of a prospecting transfer student in his sophmore year, my interests are still widely distributed. The opportunities I take to specialize will be influenced by the programs that I am accepted in next Fall. These interests include serious games for democratic collaboration, personal computer adaptive testing, information visualization work like Edward Tufte's work, social causes like the reduction of information asymmetry in everyday consumer and citizen life, and cognitive science topics that pertain to learning such as the spacing effect. The common thread is that 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 what I can learn and develop to develop my own interests.

On a more specific level I have interests in computer science programs. In reality my interest is in information which in my mind is inseparable from computer programming. So far in my career, I have taken 2 Java programming classes, a C++ class, and a PHP class. I also have an old Sun Java 2 cert and an old IBM XML cert. My top choices for going forward are for informatics programs and computer science programs that interface with linguistics. I already see education as a domain of interest in this field, in particular computer-enabled consumption of information whether for education or social reasons.

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. I haven't been here long but my education on the context of Wikiversity, 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 worth pursuing.



Required deliverables

  • An object that can read GIFT microformat, and express it in Mediawiki's Quiz extension microformat or present it directly to the user as a quiz, for these question types:
    • true/false
    • multiple choice
    • multiple response
    • fill-in-the-blank
    • numeric response
    • matching (optional -- no matching questions in Quiz, but they can be re-written as multiple choice of permutations)
  • integration with Mediawiki using a GIFT namespace and the ArticleViewHeader hook

If time permits

  • Feasibility study for learner adaptation
  • Exportation of Wikiversity to GIFT format

Project schedule


This is tentative.

  • Week of May 24 Start with design, build empty functions (classes too if extending Quiz and/or Question with the ArticleViewHeader hook in a new GIFT namespace)
  • Week of May 31 GIFT-to-Quiz PHP functions for multiple choice and true/false. Test. Document tests. Iterate if necessary.
  • Week of June 7 GIFT-to-Quiz PHP functions for multiple response and fill-in-the-blank. Test. Document tests. Iterate if necessary.
  • Week of June 14 GIFT-to-Quiz PHP functions for numeric response questions (if ahead of schedule: convert matching to permuted multiple choice). Test. Document tests. Iterate if necessary.
  • Week of June 21 Implement and test algorithm for identifying question types. Test question type identification. Document tests.
  • Week of June 28 Work on point scoring system. Document point system. Test.
  • Week of July 5 Evaluate feasibility of automatic conversion for direct presentation of GIFT questions, and design if appropriate.
  • Week of July 12 Integrate code as an extension and test installing extension on clean mediawiki install.
  • Week of July 19 Evaluate Project for Midterm.
  • Week of July 26 Test. Document tests.
  • Week of August 2 Edit documentation for beginning user tutorial and reference, reference manual, and code overview.
  • if time permits: feasibility study of various forms of learner adaptation, prototype implementation of various learner adaptation possibilities, test, determine which are suitable, document, merge code and docs; export from Quiz to GIFT (not too important since there are about 90 Quiz format quizzes and 1000s of open license GIFT format quizzes)

Any other info


As of this time I have written one document. It compares GIFT microformat with Wikimedia's microformat and looks for problems without yet committing to any solutions.

Comparison of GIFT and Wikiversity Microformats

See also