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Randomising Questions and Variables with Moodle Quiz

Eliot Hoving8 December 2020

One of the strengths of Moodle Quizzes is the ability to randomise questions. This feature can help deter student collusion.

There are several ways to randomise questions in a Moodle Quiz, which can be combined or used separately. Simple examples are provided here but more complex questions and variables can be created. 

Randomising the Question response options

It’s possible to shuffle the response options within many question types, including Multiple Choice Questions and Matching Question. When setting up a Quiz, simply look under Question behaviour, and change Shuffle within questions to Yes 

Randomising the order of Questions

You can also randomise the order of questions in a Quiz. Click Edit Quiz Questions in your Quiz, click the Shuffle tick box at the top of the page. Questions will now appear in a random order for each student. 

Randomising the Questions

It’s possible to add random questions from pre-defined question Categories. Think of Categories as containers of Quiz questions. They can be based on topic area, e.g. ‘Dosage’, ‘Pharmokinetics‘, ‘Pharmacology’, ‘Patient Consultation’ or they can be based on questions for a specific assessment e.g. ‘Exam questions container 1’, ‘Exam questions container 2’, ‘Exam questions container 3’. 

The first step is to create your Categories.

Then when adding questions to your Quiz, select add a random question and choose the Category. You can also choose how many random questions to add from the Category. 

Under the Add a question option in Moodle Quiz, you can select Add a random question.

For example, if you had a quiz of 10 questions, and you want to give students a random question out of 3 options for each question, you would need 10 Categories, each holding 3 questions e.g. ‘Exam Q1 container’, ‘Exam Q2 container’ … ‘Exam Q10 container’. 

Alternatively, if you want a quiz with 10 questions from ‘Pharmokinetics‘, and 10 from ‘Pharmacology’ you could create the two Categories with their questions, then go to your Quiz and add a random question, select the ‘Pharmokinetics‘ Category, and choose 10 questions. Repeat for ‘Pharmacology’. You now have a 20 question quiz made up of 50%  Pharmokinetics and Pharmacology questions.  

After saving a random question/s you can add further random questions or add regular questions that will appear for all students. Simply add a question from the question bank as normal.  

Be aware, that randomising questions will reduce the reliability of your Moodle Quiz statistics. For example the discrimination index will be calculated on the Quiz question overall, e.g. Q2, not on each variation of the question that may have been randomly selected from, i.e. all the questions from the Exam Q2 container. Each question variation will have fewer attempts compared to if the question was given to all students, so any analytics based on these fewer attempts will be less accurate.  

Randomising variables within Questions:

In addition to randomising questions, certain question types can have randomised variables within them. 

The STACK question type supports complex mathematical questions, which can include random variables. For example you could set some variables, a and b, as follows:

a = rand(6)  (where rand(6) takes a random value from the list [0,1,2,3,4,5,6]).

b = rand(2)  (where rand(2) takes some random value from the list [0,1,2]).

Variables can then be used within questions, so students could be asked to integrate a×xb which thanks to my random variables will generate 21 different questions for my students e.g. integrate 0×x0, 0×x, 0×x2, x0, x, x2, 2x0, 2x, 2x2 …  5x0, 5x, 5x2, 6x0, 6x, 6x2.

Random variants can be generated, tested, and excluded if they are inappropriate, in the above case I might exclude a = 0 as the question equation would evaluate to 0, whereas I want students to integrate a non-zero algebraic expression.  

The Calculated question type also supports randomising variables as well as  basic calculation questions for maths and scientific assessment. Calculated questions can be free entry or multiple choice. For example you could ask students to calculate the area of a rectangle. The width and height would be set to wild card values, let’s call them

{w} for width, and

{h} for height.

The answer is always width × height or {w} × {h} regardless of the values of {w} and {h}. Moodle calls this the answer formula.

The tutor then sets the possible values of {w} and {h} for the student by creating a dataset of possible values for Moodle to randomly select from. To create your dataset, you first define your wild card values e.g. {w} will take some value between 1 and 10, and {h} to take some value from 10 to 20.  You can then ask Moodle to generate sets of your variables, e.g. 10, 50, or 100 possible combinations of {w} and {h} based on the conditions you define. For example, given the conditions above, I could generate the following 3 sets: 

Set 1: {w} = 1, {h} = 14 

Set 2: {w} = 6.2, {h} = 19.3 

Set 3: {w} = 9.1, {h} = 11 

Creating a dataset can be somewhat confusing, so make sure you leave enough time to read the Calculated question type documentation and test it out. Once complete, Moodle can now provide students with potentially 100s of random values of {w} and {h} based on your dataset. Using the answer formula, you provide, Moodle can evaluate the student’s response and automatically grade the student’s answer regardless of what random variables they are given. 

Try a Randomised Quiz

To learn more, take an example randomised quiz on the Marvellous Moodle Examples course.

Speak to a Learning Technologist for further support

Contact Digital Education at digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk for advice and further support.

Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate gotchas – don’t get caught out!

Eliot Hoving21 October 2020

Using new technologies for the first time, or in a new way, can be challenging. Not everything goes right first time. This is certainly the case with using webinar tools such as Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate to teach online. There are numerous “gotchas” or unexpected outcomes caused by any number of often opaque settings, differing teminologies, varied scenarios and workflows, and half-way integrations. 

To assist staff in avoiding some of the common pitfalls, Faculty Learning Technologist Neil Roberts and Digital Education reached out to staff across UCL to find and share the common issues or “gotchas” that can emerge when using Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate.  We provide them below.  

If you have your own gotchas to add, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk. This guidance is subject to change as new gotchas, tips and features are discovered. For the latest guidance always check the relevant UCL staff guide, and when in doubt, contact zoomsupport@ucl.ac.uk for Zoom guidance or contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk  for Blackboard Collabaorate guidance.

 Zoom through Moodle gotchas: 

These gotchas refer to Zoom meetings created directly in Moodle using the Zoom meeting plugin. 

  • Only UCL Zoom account holders can be made alternative hosts through the Moodle plugin.  
  • You can only schedule a meeting on behalf of another user if you have obtained scheduling privileges from them. See the Zoom ‘scheduling privileges’ guide. 
  • You can only pre-assign breakout rooms and create polls in advance of a meeting if you are the host of the meeting. Whilst you can create your Zoom meeting in Moodle, to configure breakout rooms and polls you must edit your meeting in the Zoom web portal. These options are not currently available in the Zoom Moodle plugin. 
  • If you receive a ‘Zoom received a bad request: {$a} error message’ when creating a Zoom meeting on Moodle, it is likely your Zoom meeting password is not secure enough. Please enter a more secure password!   
  • Students don’t need the password to join a Zoom meeting created in Moodle. All students need to join a Zoom meeting, is to click the join meeting button on Moodle. 
  • When scheduling for a guest with a non UCL email address you must be in the meeting to hand over the host access.
  • Zoom recordings will be automatically transferred to the host’s personal library on Lecturecast. This process is usually quite quick but can take 72 hours for Zoom to prepare the recording, plus an additional 24 hours for the transfer to Lecturecast.

Zoom gotchas:

These gotchas refer to using Zoom directly, either via the Desktop app or web portal. 

  • Zoom join links include the password so don’t share them publicly 
  • There can only ever be one host in a meeting who has full control. Adding an alternative host won’t allow more than one person to fully control session. 
  • A host can only have 1 meeting running at one time. If you want to run multiple meetings beginning at the same time for different groups of students, you should create one meeting and use breakout rooms. If you definitely need seperate Zoom meetings, ensure there is a different host for each meeting. Note. having a different alternative host per meeting does not get around the restriction that a host can only have 1 meeting at one time. To schedule meetings on behalf of another user, see Zoom ‘scheduling privileges’ guide.
  • A UCL person needs to claim their Zoom account to be designated an alternative host. 
  • You can only pre-assign up to 200 people in breakout rooms 
  • If the host loses internet connection, and there is no co-host, a random participant will become the host. If the host rejoins, there may be some delay before host permissions are restored. 
  • If you have paid for a live transcription service, the ‘ api token’ required to transcribe a meeting can only be generated 24 hours before the meeting. There are many more accessibility tips for using Zoom.
  • It may take up to 72 hours for a Zoom video recording to be processed during busy times.  
  • Zoom recording file sizes can often be very large, and can therefore take a long time to download for you and your students. Consider stop-starting your Zoom recording to create multiple files of more manageable lengths and file sizes. 
  • Zoom may not show webcam input if Teams is running in background. When in doubt, turn off Teams. 
  • The chat view is limited as there is only one text box. It is hard to search through individual conversations. 

Blackboard Collaborate gotchas:

These gotchas refer to using Blackboard Collaborate. 

  • Convert to PDF before uploading slides. This will enable you to check fonts and formatting – if you are doing this on someone else’s behalf remember some fonts may not be supported and so wording may be illegible.  
  • Uploaded files are converted to pdf type format (actually Blackboard’s internal whiteboard format) so you can’t use animations/transitions in PowerPoint. 
  • Consider using the PPSpliT plugin to preserve text reveals (such as bulletpoints) when converting to PDF. Because the plugin alters the document, use it on a copied version of the document. 
  • Let one person be in charge of creating breakout rooms. Breakout configuration is not shared with others until rooms are enabled, so another organiser could create a competing set of rooms and overwrite yours. 
  • The stop breakout rooms buttons don’t have an ‘are you sure’ interlock – very easy to end a breakout session prematurely, which loses all the rooms’ contents and requires someone to manually rebuild the groups (if the groups were random, they may not be easily recreatable). 
  • Content created in breakout rooms is lost when they are stopped – it is possible to copy things out before that, otherwise have participants make screenshots. 
  • Anything draft/not activated isn’t saved if you are removed from a session – this could be text, a poll or breakout room configurations. 
  • As a moderator, don’t enter a Blackboard session from Moodle when you are in student view. This will pull you in to the session as if you were a student so you would only have a standard participant role and not be able to control session. 
  • Using Edge as your browser can cause problems with interface – recommendation use Chrome/Firefox/Safari only.  
  • Sharing a PowerPoint presentation full screen to make use of animations means you can’t see the chat. Workaround: Get around this by using ‘browsed by an individual view’ in PowerPoint and rearrange screen accordingly. This video from BBCU explains when to use Share files with pptx, and when and how to use PowerPoint on share screen in an individual window to be able to see the chat and session controls. 
  • Sharing a video application may not always broadcast the sound – check this before start of any session. 
  • The stop share buttons don’t have an ‘are you sure’ interlock – very easy to accidentally close an activity. 
  • Chat history is not available to new participants. If you leave session and rejoin the chat history is lost. 
  • If you use the eraser while using the Blackboard Collaborate whiteboard it erases everything on the whiteboard immediately.

Moodle new features – Wednesday 2nd September 2020

Eliot Hoving2 September 2020

Digi-Ed is pleased to announce the following activities are now available on UCL Moodle.

A person marking a checklist off.

The Checklist activity allows staff to create a checklist for students to complete on Moodle. The checklist can be configured to show required and/or optional tasks which students can tick off. Teachers can view and comment on the student’s progress. It is also possible to automatically generate a checklist for all the current course activities and resources on a Moodle course. Further course content can be restricted until a specific checklist is completed. To learn more, see the Checklist miniguide.

MATLAB Grader is now integrated with Moodle. Staff can now add interactive MATLAB coding activities to Moodle for students to complete. MATLAB activities include a range of automatic grading options and analytics on student engagement. Student grades from a MATLAB activity are also captured in the Moodle Gradebook. To learn more, see the MATLAB Grader miniguide.

Book

Interactive Book (a new H5P activity) allows staff to build a book of informational content and H5P activities such as questions, or interactive videos. As with all H5P activities, student responses are not stored in the Moodle Gradebook, however H5P allows for staff to easily create engaging formative activities. Try an Interactive Book example on the H5P webpage or view the UCL H5P miniguide for more information.

The Mass Actions block  is a time-saving block for the Moodle power users among us. When the block is added to a Moodle course, it allows staff to edit several activities or resources on Moodle at the same time. Editing options include hiding, indenting, moving or deleting content. To learn more, see the Mass Action block miniguide.

More Moodle improvements are coming in preparation for term 1 2020-21. To stay up to date with Moodle’s direction and development, see the Moodle Release Roadmap.

Teaching videos: which platform should I choose?

Eliot Hoving12 June 2020

Decorative.

As you prepare your Moodle course for next term, in addition to vital asynchronous activities, you will likely want to add a few videos of yourself or a screen recording of your lecture. By now you’re probably aware that UCL has a plethora of technologies. This is partly a necessity, as UCL teaching practices vary so no single tool will get the job done for everyone, but sometimes it’s a little unclear which to use.

 

To help you decide, Digital Education with help from the Digital Media team and IT for SLASH team has put together this comparison table of the three centrally supported media platforms: Lecturecast, Mediacentral and Microsoft Stream.

 

The table hopes to clarify some of the common questions; e.g.

  • Does the platform allow students to download recordings?
  • Can I upload a pre-recorded video e.g. a video recorded in PowerPoint?
  • Can I restrict who views the video?
  • Can I see analytics on whose watched the video?

 

If you need further advice on creating and sharing video, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

 

Improve your mathematics and science quizzes with STACK

Eliot Hoving11 June 2020

The STACK question type is now available in UCL Moodle Quizzes. STACK allows for rigorous mathematical assessment. Until now, mathematical questions often needed to be multiple choice questions, but with the STACK question type, students can enter mathematical responses directly into Moodle.

Students can input equations directly into Moodle and see a preview before submitting.

Figure 1: Students input equations directly into Moodle, and can see a preview before they submit.

STACK questions can have multiple parts, and each part can be evaluated separately. STACK  questions can also include randomly generated components, making it a lot easier to create a range of practice questions, and also preventing student colluding during a quiz.

The feedback options for staff are dramatically enhanced. Student responses can be evaluated against a series of tests, with different feedback and grading returned to students based on the test outcomes. For example a student’s response could be automatically graded to receive a mark of 1 if it is algebraically equivalent to the correct answer, but lose a mark of 0.1 if it is not properly factorised, for a total mark of 0.9. There are many more tests as well.

Student feedback can be tailored to their response.

Figure 2: Student feedback can include tailored responses, equations and even graphical plots.

To learn more about the STACK question type, see the STACK Moodle user guide.

If you are interested in receiving support to introduce STACK into your Moodle quizzes, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

STACK training workshops (various) – sign up now!

The team behind the Stack question type, are currently offering training on STACK from Monday 15th June 2020 10:00-12:00 BST. Reserve your place.

Demonstration course now available at UCL

A Demonstration course which includes multiple question types created in STACK for you to test, analyse and adapt is now available on UCL Moodle. The course is based on the excellent STACK demonstration course provided by the creators of STACK.

To get access, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Images courtesy of the STACK Documentation page.

 

Make your announcements stand out with the Moodle News Slider

Eliot Hoving4 May 2020

The News Slider is a new feature available in UCL Moodle. It displays up to 7 announcement posts to staff and students. The slider sits at the top of a Moodle course, where it cycles through a summary of each post and draws the attention of students to important course announcements. Student can click through to the post and access information quickly.

News Slider

The News Slider takes a few steps to configure, but once set up it can give your course a nice modern look and greatly improve the likelihood that students will read your course announcements. Find out more by reading Digital education’s guidance.