X Close

Digital Education team blog

Home

Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team

Menu

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.

New Freehand Drawing question type for Moodle

Rod Digges20 January 2022

The quiz question type ‘Freehand Drawing’ has been added to the set of existing visual question types in Moodle.

Freehand Drawing questions enable the simple and intuitive creation of digital freehand sketches/text mark-up on either a blank canvas or an uploaded background image. Once a sketch has been submitted tutors can, optionally, add their own markup as feedback .

One good reason for choosing Freehand Drawing over other question types, such as Drag & Drop or Multiple Choice questions, is that students have to actively create their responses, rather than just recognise predefined answers as correct or incorrect. This facilitates assessing deeper levels of knowledge and understanding. Furthermore, students don’t have the opportunity to simply guess the correct answer.

Good practice when using Freehand questions:

  • In the question statement, clearly define what you expect from the students in order to achieve full marks.
  • Calculate enough time for answering the question. Freehand Drawing questions generally need more time to answer than single/multi – choice questions. It’s good practice to complete the question yourself and see how long it takes you; double this time at least to get a fair estimate of how long it would take a student.
  • Familiarise students with the question type in good time before using it in any form of assessment
  • Freehand Drawing questions must be marked manually. It’s good practice to prepare a sample solution or an assessment scheme to ensure uniform assessment especially if there are multiple assessors.

A guide for the creation/use of Freehand Drawing questions may be found here: https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/x/7hN2Cw

Global deactivation of Portico Mappings

Zaman Wong9 November 2021

Portico mappings on Moodle pages were globally deactivated this morning, 9 November 2021.  Enroled students will retain access to their Moodle courses.

How will this impact students on my course?

  • Students who are already enroled on a Moodle course WILL continue to have access to that Moodle course.
  • Students who join a Module on Portico WILL NOT be automatically enroled onto the corresponding Moodle course.  Students can still be manually enroled.
  • Students who leave the module on Portico WILL NOT be automatically unenrolled.

Moodle and Portico mappings

If Portico mappings are active on a Moodle course, student enrolments on that course are automatically updated overnight to mirror the student registrations in Portico.  Consequently, students who change courses or withdraw from their studies are automatically enrolled or unenroled from the Moodle course when their Portico record is changed.  Usually, this is desirable when students change/drop modules within the first few weeks of term.  However, if students are automatically unenroled after they have been awarded any grades, these grades become inaccessible, which can be very problematic.

Note: the ‘inaccessible’ grades, submissions and logged activity are not deleted, and can be accessed again if the student is re-enroled manually.  But, when a student is no longer enroled on a course, there is just no way to view their content.

Why deactivate Portico mappings?

To reduce the likelihood of this particular ‘inaccessible/missing grades’ problem occurring, Portico mappings are deactivated on all Moodle courses, six weeks into each term.

Can I re-activate Portico mappings on my courses?

Yes.  However, please assess whether you risk losing access to some students’ grades before you do this.  Once a mapping is active, students will be automatically enrolled or unenrolled that evening.  See instructions on re-activating Portico enrolments

Note: Portico enrolments can be deactivated within the course at any time by anyone with Course Administrator or Tutor access, thereby stopping any automatic changes of students enroled on the Moodle course.

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

 

H5P News

Janina Dewitz12 June 2020

Good news for anyone who is looking to make their Moodle courses even more interactive: as of today, several previously unavailable activities are now ready for you to try out.

All new modules are now available under “Interactive Content” in the list of available Moodle activities. Let’s dive in and see what’s available!

Among the new activities we have added are the beta version of the Branching Scenario, the Questionnaire tool and the 360 Virtual Tour module. The latter allows you, for example, to create an interactive walk-through of your lab or department right inside your Moodle course. All you need to get started are static images or, even better, 360 photo spheres of a location. Add information cards, navigation and even audio to make the experience even more immersive.

If you are looking for icebreaker tasks, you might like to try out the Personality Quiz maker. It allows you to create a series of multiple choice questions where each answer option corresponds to one or more predefined “personality types”/profiles/categories. Head over to the H5P example page to see the Personality Quiz in action. Or find out what kind of Moodler you are in our own lighthearted personality quiz (login required).

The Word Search and the Memory game may seem like frivolous additions to the toolbox, but used creatively, the memory game, for example, can be adapted to serve as a “Flashcard race against the time” to aid revision of terminology. Here’s one I made earlier to illustrate the point:

We would love to hear how you are using these activities in your courses – what will you create? Share your ideas and links to your creations in the comments below.

For more information about all the H5P activities we have in our UCL Moodle, please refer to our set of Mini Guides.

Late Summer Assessments in Moodle – Summer 19/20

Jason R Norton10 June 2020

This summer (19/20) sees a repeat of the processes introduced last year with regards to the running of Late Summer Assessments.

A snapshot of Moodle 19/20 will be taken on 13th July 2020, 9pm-11pm. Moodle will be unavailable during this period.

Two live instances of Moodle will then be available:

  • Moodle LSA(snapshot) 19/20 – to be used ONLY for Late Summer Assessments. This will remain live until 30th November 2020.
  • Moodle 20/21.

Moodle use and Late Summer Assessments

To facilitate the combination of required end of year tasks and the running of Late Summer Assessments, all Late Summer Assessments should take place within the 19/20 Moodle Snapshot (called Moodle LSA 19/20).  This will be created on 13th July 2020 and made available no later than 15th July 2020.

Why are we asking you to follow this guidance?

  • All associated course content and student/cohort data will remain consistent and associated with the correct Moodle snapshot, in this case Moodle 19/20.
  • Completing Late Summer Assessments within the 19/20 snapshot allows all the “live” Moodle courses to be reset and normal end of year course activities to take place from 15th July 2020. Course teams will therefore be able to begin preparing courses for the 20/21 academic year.
  • Additional Moodle course creation is kept to a minimum within the Moodle 20/21 instance and aids in Moodle housekeeping activities (reducing dead/unwanted courses, improving long term database performance).

What are we doing to facilitate this change?

  • The Moodle 19/20 Snapshot will remain read/write until the 30th November 2020.
  • Digital Education will make a landing screen/hub available as we did last year with a two Moodle selection page to direct students to snapshot Moodle for Late Summer Assessments.
  • Digital Education will create a global banner within “live” Moodle directing students to the snapshot for the duration of the Late Summer Assessment period.
  • Digital Education will place other redirection adverts/links within “live” Moodle to highlight to students that Late Summer Assessment activities can be found within the 19/20 snapshot.

How can you prepare for Late Summer Assessments?

If you have Late Summer Assessments taking place and you wish to prepare assessment material/submission points in advance of the Moodle snapshot being taken on 13th July 2020, we recommend the following:

  • Within any course where Late Summer Assessments will be taking place, create a hidden section and place any material or submission points within that section. This can be done in Moodle 19/20 up until the 10th July 2020. Alternatively, it can be done within the 19/20 snapshot, which will be available by 15th July 2020.
  • When you are ready to make Late Summer Assessment material/submission points available, simply unhide the section within the course on the 19/20 snapshot.

Details on how to create and hide sections within Moodle can be found in the  miniguide – Moodle Course Structure .

A list of commonly asked questions about Late Summer Assessments is also available.

For any questions regarding Moodle and Late Summer Assessments please email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.