Syntax Untangler FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a unit?

You can organize your Syntax Untangler content into as many "units" as you like. The important bottom line is that each "unit" gets it own Web address, so you can point your students to jump directly in to that unit simply by you giving them a link to that Web address. You are free to organize your content in various ways using these units. For example, you might break your content into topical units, or maybe you want to revise your game data over time, so you might keep different versions of the same material in different units. You could name your units with appropriate dates, or maintain slightly different versions of content for different groups of students.

A very important feature is that you get to pick (and must pick) the last word of the public Web address for your Syntax Untangler units. Do this in the "URL word" field. Tip: try to keep that word easy for your students to type and remember, for example "french101unit3" or "McMillan201Week2."

How do my students get access to my game?

In the authoring tool you see a "Play" button shown for each of your units. That takes you to the real, live Web address (URL) for your unit. Just share that URL with whomever you want to! If you want to keep your unit "secret," just don't tell anyone the URL. If you want to share it with the world, feel free to share that URL as widely as you wish. Contact Alan Ng if you're willing to share your unit on this Web site, so that other instructors can see and use it.

Remember that if you ever change the "URL word" for this unit, that will break everyone else's links or bookmarks (if there are any out there) to your unit.

How do I restrict or turn off access to my game?

Just set the game "URL word" to something noone else knows about. You can do that in the main menu (starting screen) of the authoring tool. Share the new game address only with your intended players.

How can I automatically record in my LMS gradebook whether my students successfully completed a Syntax Untangler game?

Just set the last screen of your game to display a "victory password." Then when you build a quiz or other graded assessment in your LMS (Blackboard/Canvas/D2L/Moodle/etc.), simply include a link to your game as a quiz question that expects a short text answer. If the student enters the "victory password" into that quiz question, you know they completed the game.

How do I create a new question?

You probably already figured out the obvious parts of entering your question and the primary text which your question is about. The tricky part might be how you indicate what the correct answer(s) should be. I recommend this process:

  1. Select the right answer in the primary text. Tip: Be careful not to include blank space before or after your selected text. Avoid double-clicking a word to select it because your browser may include any whitespace that follows that word, giving you an excessive "length" measurement.
  2. Note the bright green box that gives you information "about your current selection."
  3. Below in the Answers section, enter the Start Position and Length from the two numbers shown in the green box.

What's the purpose of the checkbox for "Punctuation marks at edges of player answers will be ignored"?

Typically instructors using Syntax Untangler ask their students to think about words and letters, not punctuation marks. In that case it's more natural for the player and instructor if it's ok to accidentally include (or not include) a neighboring punctuation mark in a correct answer. However, if you are teaching punctuation, or computer programming, or some other symbol-intensive language, you will need to uncheck this box. This decision will apply to all questions in this unit. You can change this setting at any time.

Caution to players using Internet Explorer versions 7 and 8

Double-clicking to select your answer may not always work, particularly if the answer is not a word made of letters of (an) alphabet. You can always use click-drag instead of double-click to select such answers.

Internet Explorer insists on showing a blue arrow when I select an answer in the game, blocking Syntax Untangler from accepting my answer. How do I turn that "feature" off?

  1. Click Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced. In IE version 9, you get the Tools menu by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner.
  2. Then, under the Browsing heading, uncheck the box for "Display Accelerator button on selection."
  3. Click OK.
  4. Close and restart Internet Explorer.

If I use old Internet Explorer (versions 7 and older), what won't work in the Instructor Tools?

The main problem is that some of the features of the text-formatting toolbar won't work when you're editing a question, such as adding colored highlighting to your texts. You could get around that if you're comfortable with HTML and use the "Show Source" mode. You will also see some minor cosmetic weirdnesses here and there throughout the instructor interface.