Terms Relating to the TAO Architecture


George will need to store certain information about the various components of his assessment, which will be used to define and classify them, and also specify how they are used. This is done in TAO's properties.  

Properties are not strictly part of TAO's architecture, but as they often appear in a menu on the right-hand side of the TAO user interface (opposite the libraries) when you are working in TAO, we will consider them in this section.

The Glossary says that "Properties define attributes, or characteristics, pertaining to Interactions, Items, Tests, or Deliveries". Interactions, items, tests, and deliveries are all components of an assessment, and we will look at them in Part 2.   

The term Properties is used to cover two types of information in TAO. These types are in some ways quite different from each other. The first type of information - the one which appears in menu form on the right of the screen - is a list of configuration details for the TAO object in question. These are also sometimes called Settings. So, for items, for example, it is possible to define a time limit for a particular item of a test. 

This information is found (and defined) in the menu on the right which appears when the object is being authored. The configurable properties are shown in the image below for an example test question (item) from the assessment which George wants to set up (in this case it is only the time limit which is configurable).

Note: For reference purposes, some of the permanent attributes of an item, such as the name (title) and the identifier, also appear here in this side bar.

Properties which are configurable


The second type is a set of attributes which need to be (or can be - some of them are optional) defined for a TAO object. For items, for example, they include the name of the item, and can include information about its format and the language, as well as the difficulty level of the item, and anything else you  would like to add in order to classify your item in some way.

This information is found (and defined) by clicking on Properties just above the canvas. The information contained here is also referred to as Metadata. The permanent attributes (e.g. the name, the language, and the difficulty level of the item) are shown in the image below for the sample item (don't worry about the content of the test item for now - we will follow the construction of this item in Part 2).

Properties which are permanent attributes of an object


To summarize, these two types of information encompass all the data pertaining to a TAO object that isn’t the actual content of the object. The main difference between the two types is that the first contains information which can be configured for specific cases when the object is being deployed. The second, on the other hand, contains descriptive information - information that describes permanent attributes of the object - such as its language.