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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.

Moodle 3.9 Upgrade and New Features – Tuesday 10th November 2020 

Eliot Hoving and Jon-Luc Holmes6 November 2020

Digi-Ed is excited to announce that Moodle will be upgraded to Moodle 3.9 on Tuesday 10th November 2020. This upgrade will take place in the early morning (1am-2am) to minimise any disruption to staff or students. The upgrade delivers the following new features and improvements as well as performance enhancements and required bug and security fixes. 

Activity chooser 

A new activity chooser is available that makes it easier to locate, star and view recommended activities and resources for use within Moodle. 

Moodle Activity Chooser

Participants filter 

A new participants filter is available which provides more options for searching the list of enrolled users on your Moodle courses. This new filter allows you to search participants by the role they’re assigned on your course or filtering by group. 

Moodle Participants Filter

Whole forum grading 

Forums can now be awarded an overall discussion forum grade. This makes it easier for tutors to use Forums for assessment. Tutors and course administrators can set setup a forum to be graded while students can submit posts and view the grade they have received for their contributions. 

Moodle whole forum grading

Forum reporting 

A Forum summary report can now be generated by Tutors to show student forum engagement. 

Moodle Forum reporting

Activity completion 

A new activity completion criterion is available which allows access to an activity or resource to be restricted based on completion of the previous activity within the course. This allows for content to be moved around or added to your Moodle course without having to reconfigure access restrictions and completion tracking. 

Moodle activity completion

Emojis for Moodle messaging and Forums 

Emojis are now available in Moodle messaging. They can also be added to Forums and other Moodle content using the new emoji picker in the Atto text editor. 

Moodle emojis

Additional Changes 

Alongside the features listed above, the following improvements are also available on Moodle: 

  • You can now filter the Moodle calendar by day and month instead of just listing upcoming events 
  • The question bank now shows question ID numbers within the list of questions for each category 
  • Book resources now have clearer and easier navigation options to improve the user experience for moving between pages 

Full details of all changes between Moodle version 3.7 and 3.9 can be found on the Moodle 3.9 upgrade wiki page.

If you have any queries, please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk 

Lecturecast: what analytics should you use?

Samantha Ahern22 October 2020

There are two types of analytics available from within Lecturecast (Echo360), these are:

The course analytics will provide information about student use of the ALP tools, in addition to interactions with the inidividual media resources. The individual media analytics only provides analytics about the specific media item.

Which set of analytics you use, will depend on how you have added Lecturecast materials to your Moodle course.

If you have embedded recordings in your Moodle course using the Atto editor:

Atto editor toolbar highlighting Echo360 plugin

 

 

Then to obtain accurate viewing data for the recording you should use the Individual media analytics.

Please note that students will not have access to the addiitonal tools such as confusion flags and note taking if recordings are added in this way.

Whereas, if you have linked to recordings ore presentations via the Lecturecast activity in Moodle, you would use the Course and student analytics.

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 – Friday 16th October 2020

Jon-Luc Holmes16 October 2020

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

Embed Quiz Questions Anywhere is a new plugin that allows staff to embed quiz questions directly within their Moodle content. Staff can embed any question from their courses question bank into their Moodle activities for use as formative assessment. Students can then answer these questions as they work through their Moodle content. These answers can then be reviewed on a per activity or course wide basis. To learn more, see the Embed Quiz Questions Anywhere miniguide.

An example quiz question embedded directly within the contents of a Moodle page resource

Embed Quiz Questions Anywhere allows staff to embed quiz questions into any content on their Moodle course. Click the image to expand it.

Hypothes.is is a new LTI that is now approved for integration with Moodle. Staff who own a license for this product may now add the Hypothes.is activity to Moodle for collaborative annotations by students. These resources can be webpages or uploaded PDF documents. Student annotations can be individually filtered and graded with those grades carrying back to the Moodle gradebook. To learn more, see the Hypothesis miniguide.

Hypothesis

Hypothesis allows for students to collectively annotate a document. Click the image to expand it.

Further work on a range of other enhancements, are currently underway. To stay up to date with the latest learning technology enhancements at UCL, see the Moodle Release Roadmap.

Alternatives for Digital Walls like Padlet

Tim Neumann17 September 2020

Digital Walls or noticeboards have become popular tools for online activities around sharing ideas and media. You may be familiar with Padlet, which is probably the best known example for a digital wall. But as Padlet is currently not provided by UCL, we wanted to examine some of its use cases and look at options within UCL to replicate these types of activities, so we asked some colleagues at the UCL Institute of Education for their input.

What is Padlet?

  • Padlet is a visual virtual noticeboard that allows learners to share text, links, pictures and video, leave feedback and ratings, and rearrange and link shared items.
  • Padlet has become popular for its ease-of-use and versatility: It is quick to set up, and does not require a log in. Learners can quickly add items to a digital wall and make sense by rearranging them manually or automatically.
  • Padlet takes care to present items in a visually attractive way by automatically grabbing images from websites and adjusting image sizes, and it allows connections to be made between related items, thus enabling concept maps.

What is the issue with Padlet?

At the time of writing, Padlet is not accessible and does not conform to the WCAG 2.1 level AA standard. The three main issues are:

  • Keyboard access: Content can be navigated, but neither created nor edited by keyboard only.
    There is currently no workaround.
  • Alternative descriptions: Images, video and links cannot be tagged with alternative descriptions.
    A workaround is to add descriptions and/or transcripts to the main text body of a Padlet post.
  • Low vision colour contrast: The colour contrast of Padlet pages does not accommodate low vision users.
    A workaround in the form of a web app is only available for Chrome/Edge.

What are alternatives to Padlet?

While there are plenty of alternative external tools, such as Lino, Mindmeister, Miro, Pinterest, Trello, Wakelet etc, these tools are either facing similar accessibility challenges, have a more specific range of use cases, or are more complex to use.

Below is a list of typical Padlet use cases sourced from colleagues at the UCL Institute of Education, and potential alternatives with UCL-provided tools where possible. Click on each tab to expand:

Description:

Typical use case for e.g. brainstorming. Having student comments on one single page allows for a quicker analysis, and Padlet’s ability to rearrange comments aids analysis by organising thoughts spacially. The digital wall concept also helps overcome hierarchical organisation of comments.

Alternative Tools:

Mentimeter (Guide), Microsoft Planner

Comment:

Padlet is actually bad at handling long amounts of text.
For short comments, Mentimeter has several display options including a revolving display or word clouds.
If drag-and-drop rearrangement is required, Microsoft Planner offers a card-based display similar to Padlet, which can also handle attachments, but does not display thumbnail images. Horizontal rearrangement needs defined columns.

Issues:

While Mentimeter is straightforward, it is restricted to simply compiling text-based contributions.
In Microsoft Planner, learners must be added to a plan to gain relevant permissions, and they must be logged in at Office 365.

Description:

Co-operative curation of resources under a theme with comments, reviews or evaluation.

Alternative Tools:

Microsoft OneNote, Moodle Glossary, Moodle Forum, Moodle Database

Comment:

The simplicity of Padlet encourages participation, which is not matched with other tools:

  • OneNote is complex to use, but offers superior options to categorise content.
    Media and comments are separate in OneNote and not treated as 'one unit'.
  • Core functions of the Moodle Glossary are straightforward to use for building a categorised resource collection, but the visual design is less attractive, the usability is less immediate, and functions like tags are not wholly intuitive.
  • The Moodle Forum is intuitive, but used as a resource collection, a number of clicks are required to navigate the collection.
  • The Moodle Database can be turned into a versatile media collection database, but its setup needs expertise, and even when templates are provided, support will likely be required.

Issues:

  • All Moodle tools require specific instructions when large media files are being shared, e.g. upload via the Lecturecast button in the Moodle text editor.
  • OneNote requires Office 365 login and specific permissions, which can be facilitated by using Teams.

Description:

Learners compile images, videos, audio, websites and other media web to collaboratively create a multimodal narrative in response to a prompt.

Alternative Tools:

Microsoft OneNote

Comment:

While OneNote good at collating resources and developing structures, it is more complex to use and does not offer the immediacy of managing resources.

Issues:

OneNote requires Office 365 login and specific permissions, which can be facilitated by using Teams.

Description:

Used for example as ice breaker, e.g. “where in the world are you”: Students create a pin on a map to show where they are located (e.g. London) and add a few comments about themselves.

Alternative Tools:

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Whiteboard (only synchronous)
External: Ethermap, Zeemaps

Comments:

Important for community building and seeing benefits of studying online.

Issues:

Any alternative is likely to have accessibility issues.

Description:

Students use a Padlet wall to make visual connections between ideas.

Alternative Tools:

None.
External: Mindmeister or similar collaborative mindmapping tools

Comments:

Effective activity to facilitate conceptual understanding.

Issues:

No UCL-internal alternative could be identified.

Description:

Students are invited to share their solution to different facets of a problem. Three or more headings are created and students post underneath one or more. Students are then invited to reply to others' posts.

Alternative Tools:

Microsoft Planner, shared Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel document, Moodle Wiki, Confluence (UCL Wiki)

Comments:

Padlet offers high flexibility in expanding or minimising the structure, but may not be the right tool if contributions are text-heavy.

Issues:

  • Microsoft tools require Office 365 login and specific permissions, which can be facilitated by using Teams.
  • The Moodle Wiki requires an introduction to the wiki syntax.
  • Confluence requires a separate login.

Description:

Students collect visual research-type data, e.g. photographic observations, hand drawn maps, which is displayed on a single screen.

Alternative Tools:

Microsoft OneNote

Comments:

Having visual data on one single screen offers analytical insights that put less strain on working memory.

Issues:

The single-screen display of OneNote is not as flexible.
OneNote requires Office 365 login and specific permissions, which can be facilitated by using Teams.

Description:

Presentation of images, pdfs, ppts, videos, audio, etc with ratings and comments for each contribution.

Alternative Tools:

Moodle Database, Moodle Forum, Microsoft OneNote, UCL Reflect

Comments:

Padlet does not require any detailed setup for this type of activity.

  • The Moodle Database can be turned into a customised simple conference resource centre, but its setup needs expertise, and even when templates are provided, support will likely be required.
  • The Moodle Forum is a simplistic option.
  • For OneNote, a structure and clear instructions need to be provided.

Issues:

Moodle tools require specific instructions when large media files such as videos are being shared.
OneNote requires Office 365 login and specific permissions, which can be facilitated by using Teams.


Description:

Using a tool that learners can use in their own practice outside of UCL makes activities more authentic and adds a professional transfer/real-world perspective.

Alternative Tools:

n/a
Example: UCL Reflect

Comments:

Certain tools, including Padlet, have high propagation and acceptance in professional practice, which provides a strong justification for including them in UCL teaching and learning. The adoption of a tool by UCL, however, needs to be balanced with many other factors, and adhere to our policies.

UCL Reflect is based on the WordPress blogging platform, which is an example for a tool that has high global acceptance.

Issues:

The tool may go against UCL policies, most notably on accessibility or privacy, which may raise legal issues around equality and/or safeguarding as well as ethical issues. 


 

We will follow this up with screenshots and descriptions of specific examples.

With contributions from Dima Khazem, Eileen Kennedy, Gillian Stokes, Kit Logan and Silvia Colaiacomo.