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Moodle STACK Quiz question type: deploying variants to avoid quiz crashing

Aurelie4 May 2022

Questions in STACK can contain randomly generated elements. A student will be given a random variant of a question generated by a pseudo-random seed.

Why deploy variants?

The tutor is strongly advised to pre-generate and “deploy” variants of a question. Not pre-generating question variants Forces Moodle to generate them on the fly – for quizzes with larger numbers of participants this can cause quizzes to crash/freeze.
When a student attempts the question, they will be given a random selection from the deployed variants.

Other reasons for deploying variants of a question:

  • STACK runs all the question tests on each deployed variant to establish each variant of the question is working. This aids quality control. By using question tests, it is unlikely a student will be given a random variant which does not work correctly.
  • The tutor can decide if each deployed variant appears to be of equal difficulty. The tutor can easily delete variants they do not like.

Caution

  • If an author does not deploy any variants (not advised!) then the student gets any random variant.
  • Questions that don’t use randomisation cannot be deployed explicitly. STACK automatically detects randomisation.

How to deploy question variants

The deployment interface can be found by editing a question and clicking on question tests and deployed variants.

  1. The easiest way to do so is to preview the question
  2. Then click the Question tests & deployed variant link on the top right corner.
  3. Click ‘deploy’ if not already deployed.
  4. Next to Attempt to automatically deploy the following number of variants, enter the number of variants  you would like and click Go.
    (depending on the question and the question note content you may be able to deploy various amount; if possible deploy over 30)
    You can preview results and either exclude variants, or return to the quiz question settings to revise the randomisation you have used in the question.
  5. Check variants as required.
  6. This will show the list of currently deployed variants, and links to undeploy all or a specific variant.
  7. Optionally, click ‘Run all tests on all deployed variants (slow):’ and check/undeploy any variants you don’t want to use.

Limitations

There is currently no way to loop systematically over all variants and deploy them all.

Find more details and advice on using STACK question types on the M57 – STACK online assessment for mathematics and science.

MyPortfolio upgrade: what’s new?

Aurelie11 April 2022

Our eportfolio system MyPortfolio is powered by the open-source platform Mahara.

On 26 May 2022, MyPortfolio was upgraded to Mahara version 21.10. This means we’re bringing you new functionalities and improving features such as competency frameworks, general usability improvements as well as making MyPortfolio more user-friendly.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of improvements:

SmartEvidence (competency framework) for group templates

A SmartEvidence framework can be added to a group portfolio used as template for the creation of personal portfolios.

Exports improvement

Decide whether you want to include or exclude private comments from your portfolio export to retain the original setting on private comments and not make them viewable by others.

Collapsible page comments

When you open a page, the comments area at the bottom of a page, when the portfolio author allowed comments, is collapsed per default to save space.

MyPortfolio collapsible comments feature

MyPortfolio collapsible comments

Skin stays with copied page

When you copy a page or a collection that has one or more skins applied to its pages, the skins come along with the pages if they are public or site skins that you are allowed to use.

Accessibility bug fixes

Accessibility bugs were fixed towards compliance with WCAG 2.1.

 

For more details, you can review the MyPortfolio Mahara Manual.


21.10 Mahara video from https://manual.mahara.org/en/21.10/new.html 

If you have any question regarding setting up eportfolio activities or assessment, don’t hesitate to contact me : a.soulier@ucl.ac.uk .

 

Updated Turnitin plugin in Moodle

Aurelie15 September 2021

On Thursday, 16th September 2021, our Moodle site will be upgraded to version 3.9.10 and the latest version of the Turnitin plugin will be released. Moodle will be in maintenance mode from 1:00am to 2:00am and you won’t be able to access Moodle or Turnitin during this time.

Here is a short summary of the changes and bug fixes you might notice when using the new Turnitin plugin:

Turnitin classes now expiring along with a Moodle course

Turnitin now synchronises dates in Moodle with the Turnitin database. When your Moodle course end date is over a year old, those classes also expire in Turnitin. This will free up the active student count for those classes.
Important: Turnitin classes older than one year expire and cannot be edited unless they are re-activated. 

Draft submissions will not stick in pending status 

A bug had caused some draft submissions to stick in ‘pending’ status and not generate a Similarity Report. This bug has now been fixed and draft submissions will generate Similarity Reports if enabled. 

Change in default activity tracking Moodle setting 

A bug had prevented users from being able to alter the default activity tracking setting within Moodle when Turnitin was also enabled. This bug has now been fixed, and you can use this feature alongside Turnitin without error. 

Submit button no longer visible after the due date 

The submit button will no longer be shown to students who have already submitted to the assignment when the due date has passed. The current functionality will remain for users who have not already submitted. 

Deleting parts without errors  

The option to delete a part will now only show after there is more than one part used. When there is only one part, we’ll no longer show the deletion option to prevent the assignment from potentially breaking. 

Creating or accessing Moodle assignments when Turnitin is disabled 

If Turnitin is disabled for an assignment and Turnitin is unavailable by having the wrong configuration options or being under maintenance, then an error message would be shown. This bug has been fixed, and Turnitin being unreachable will no longer impact your ability to create or access your content. 

Moodle Course name sync 

Changes to the Moodle course name will be reflected everywhere in Turnitin. When a Moodle course title is changed, this will now be updated in Turnitin too. This will include the digital receipts students receive when they submit their paper. 

Grades removal 

When a grade is removed from Turnitin, this removal will also be reflected within Moodle as the submission being ungraded. 

Turnitin icon display in Moodle assignment

In Moodle assignment, the Turnitin similarity report now has an updated Turnitin icon. Turnitin icon display on Moodle assignment

 

Video assignments in Moodle

Janice Kiugu4 May 2020

To support alternative assessments and in particular the use of Video assignments, a new Moodle plugin that allows for the submission of video/media files is now available. The plugin is accessed within a Moodle assignment and the key additional step in ensuring students can upload video files is to select the option to submit ‘online text’ when setting up an assignment.

In the short term (May until late summer) the Lecturecast (Echo360) video submission plugin will be installed. Following on from that, the aim prior to the start of the 20/21 academic year will be to deploy the Mediacentral video plugin, which will replace the Lecturecast plugin and provide a fuller, richer integration with the UCL media platform – Mediacentral.

The reason the Lecturecast/Echo360 plugin is being installed first is that the Mediacentral plugin is more complex in its integration with Moodle. It requires significantly more testing than the Echo360 plugin and cannot be deployed in time to support the forthcoming assessment period.

A key feature of the Echo360 plugin is that it facilitates the use of the Echo360 mobile application which can be used to:

  • record and upload material from portable devices such as tablets and mobile phones.
  • view Lecture materials, but only if a user has first accessed the course and recordings via their Moodle course page.

Note: The Echo360 mobile application can only be used by UCL registered email addresses.

Support documentation and guidance is available for staff and students

Video assignment guides

Echo 360 Mobile app guides

Case study and additional resources

The Turnitin Plagiarism plugin tool for Moodle assignments is finally here…

Janice Kiugu29 March 2019

Digital Education are pleased to announce that the Turnitin Plagiarism plugin tool for Moodle assignments will be available on New Moodle from 2nd April 2019.

This means that assignments submitted via the Moodle assignment tool can now be checked for similarities in text and a Similarity report generated.

Enabling this will ensure parity across assignment types in Moodle (with regards to similarity checking) and will allow staff and students to have the ability to check all pieces of work for similarities in text and not just those submitted via a standard Turnitin assignment.

All staff will be able to enable the setting on Moodle assignments. However, this will be run as a pilot as some but not all institutions that have the plugin enabled have reported a few issues with the plugin that can be resolved, but require workarounds. Digital Education need to ensure that these issues can be resolved and managed.  The pilot will run till the Moodle Snapshot is taken on 26th July 2019.

There are a few key things to note:

Does the tool work with group submissions?

Yes, however note that:

  • Only the student who made the submission will be able to view the similarity report and will need to share it with other students in the group.
  • All marking should be done using the Moodle Grading tools to ensure all students in the group have a grade recorded and can see any feedback given.

What impact will the plugin have on existing Moodle Assignments?

None at all. Existing assignments will remain as they are. If the plugin is enabled for assignments that have already been set and submissions made, then no similarity report will be generated. Students would have to resubmit to get a similarity report.

Can I set up a Moodle assignment with Turnitin enabled and grade the work in Turnitin feedback studio?

No, we do not recommend this. Turnitin should only be used for similarity checking and NOT for grading when it is enabled in a Moodle assignment.   We have detailed reasons for this in on the wiki guide.

For additional guidance on how to use this tool as a staff member, please refer to the guide – Moodle Assignment with Turnitin integration. Alternatively, if you are a student please see – the student guide .

For specific queries or support, email: digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

Digital Education Services

UCL 2034: Improving the ‘Student Experience’ with Digital Exams

Karen Shackleford-Cesare6 April 2017

Rationale

One may argue that UCL students are over-assessed. But, regardless of your take on this, it stands to reason that where examinations are used to assess learning, it is worth investing in delivery systems that give students the best possible experience and outcomes. These systems could conceivably have the following aims, to:

  1. Improve the functionality, usability and accessibility of the questions on the exam
  2. Offer greater flexibility in terms of the time, place and resources needed to host an exam
  3. Improve the support given to both students sitting exams and the staff facilitating and/or grading them
  4. Potentially reduce the time between sitting some exams and obtaining results/feedback
  5. Potentially increase transparency in marking and confidence in the grades awarded
  6. Reduce potential for errors in marking and from transcribing/transferring marks
  7. Reduce the workloads of both academic and administrative staff
  8. Reduce costs around printing, transporting, securing and storing paper

Acknowledging that assessment and feedback are ongoing areas of student concern, and that the Education Strategy commits us to addressing and resolving persistent challenges in this area (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/education-strategy), Brunel University’s approach to digitising some examinations is interesting.

E-Assessment Management at Brunel

Whereas UCL uses the quiz tool in Moodle for online exams, Brunel University has subscribed to a cloud-based digital exam platform called WISEflow for theirs. Like Turnitin this subscribed service can be linked to various VLEs including Moodle. In the case of Brunel, this happens to be Blackboard. Tutors create their quizzes/exams, which can be accessed indirectly via a link on a course page in their VLE or directly by logging into the secure WISEflow website.

WISEflow-Select Login

WISEflow provides tutors with 50 varied question types with quite sophisticated features allowing for different media to be embedded and for example, virtual tools, such as a ruler and a protractor to be used to measure the lines and angles of diagrams in questions. It also supports essay questions that allow a student to respond with a 1,000 to 3,000 word essay. This advantageous for exams in subjects such as law, history and literature, etc. WISEflow also has a number of features to ensure that student’s responses aren’t lost whilst being written.

According to Niels Berg Conradsen of UNIwise,

“WISEflow features a very robust lockdown browser module. It carries a text editor in the lockdown browser that also serves as a word processor. The students can structure their essay with headlines and even embed pictures from their webcam. Moreover, the student has a revision tool at their disposal, so they can revert the essay to former editions if they so desire”.

This platform is sufficiently secure to support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) examinations. At a 1-day event at Brunel on March 17, 2017 attendees, (myself included), had an opportunity to hear positive feedback from Brunel’s staff and students about their experience using WISEflow, and to use it ourselves on our own devices.

WISEflow enables tutors to create and manage digital exams, which they can assign to specific students. They can then mark the materials that the students submit in WISEflow. The marking tools are similar to those in the Moodle and Turnitin assignments. WISEflow can also be used for the submission of coursework.

Benefits of digital exams generally for various stakeholders are listed below and may be also achieved with Moodle quizzes, (although in Moodle’s case additional software would be needed to lock the browser).

Advantages for students:

  • It’s feasible for students to take exams remotely
  • No need to write long hand for hours (increasingly students may have little sustained handwriting practice)
  • It’s much easier to correct mistakes and make changes to responses on online exam scripts than on paper
  • It’s feasible for students to get feedback beyond just a grade on exams taken
  • Students may be able to get their results faster
  • It’s feasible to take the exam on a familiar device, their own laptop
  • Accessibility features easier to incorporate

Advantages for tutors, administrators, invigilators:

  • Exam papers don’t have to be printed, packaged, secured and distributed to exam centres
  • No challenging handwriting to decipher
  • No paper scripts to collect, secure or transport
  • No scripts to store for the short to long term
  • Scripts can be printed as required
  • Tools exist for invigilators to monitor students’ progress through a paper they’re sitting
  • Tools exist for tutors to analyse students’ responses to each question
  • Easy to facilitate access to scripts by moderators, second markers and external examiners
  • The cost of a streamlined infrastructure for online exams may not exceed that of the current paper based examination system in place.

Importantly, Brunel also benefited from the involvement and support of their Registry and Examinations Office in the launch of this project.

What WISEflow can do for you…

There are other Providers of Digital Examination Systems that may also be considered.

Some Cons of Acquiring Another App

This piece has highlighted many of the pros of acquiring specialist, purpose-built kit. However, some of the problems that would need to be addressed include:

  • Providing students with a “one-stop shop” for accessing their results and feedback. UCL has part sponsored the development of the MyFeedback tool in Moodle for this purpose but could it retrieve this data from a third party product?
  • Additional training and support needed
  • The integration of a new app with Moodle
  • Identifying and equipping enough rooms with adequate WiFi and power points to support BYOD
  • Adequate provision of suitable computer suites
  • Cost

Cost Differentials

It would be informative to compare the estimated cost of running paper-based exams with that of online exams. Instinctively, one may focus on the costs associated with the actually staging of an exam. By so doing, the paper option may seem much cheaper, if only because computing paraphernalia isn’t required. However, costs may start to even out when preparatory printing, storing and distribution expenses, (not to mention the man-hours needed), are taken into account. Plus, cost associated with moving, securing and storing hard-copy exam scripts.

Where the computing infrastructure is exists for other purposes and would be present even if no online exams to use it, then one could argue in favour of discounting the cost it may otherwise present.

Observations by Attendees

See what others had to say: