Rapid quiz creation for Moodle

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flickr photo by sea turtle shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Online quizzes can be used as an effective tool to help assess student knowledge, elicit feedback and add variety in learning. A common criticism of the quiz activity in Moodle is that it can seem cumbersome and time-consuming. Tutors navigate and click through multiple pages, menus and boxes on forms in order to create a single question. However, for those of you that would prefer to simply type your questions into a single document to be imported into a quiz in Moodle, I offer some potential solutions.

In this article, I will review three simple methods designed to speed up quiz question creation in Study Direct.  For readers who are not members of the University of Sussex, Study Direct is the name of our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which is built on Moodle (version 1.9). The two terms may be used interchangeably throughout this post.

Microsoft Word Moodle Quiz Template

The Microsoft Word Moodle Quiz Template offers the convenience of working as an add-on to Microsoft Word. It uses macros to allow you to create quizzes by selecting the type of question you want to use from an icon on the ribbon (see the screenshot below) and then typing questions, answers and feedback directly into your Word document.

Capture 2
This offers the ability to create the following quiz question types:

  • multiple choice
  • true or false
  • matching
  • short-answer
  • numerical
  • essay questions

Plus general feedback (per question), images, question names and comments. Comments are useful if you’re developing your questions with a colleague and sharing the document via email, for example.

Once you have finished creating your questions with Microsoft Word, you can then use the ‘Export to XML’ option on the ribbon to save your document as a Moodle XML file which can be imported into Study Direct and turned into a quiz.

In general, I found this method very easy and it is  a perfect solution for anyone who feels more comfortable using Word. Whilst you can’t use the template to include some of the more intricate details of a quiz such as percentage scores and customised feedback per response; it’s a highly versatile tool which should help to speed up quiz creation for any Study Direct user.

Please see the Technology Enhanced Learning Microsoft Word Moodle Quiz Template guide to learn how to use this tool. This includes instructions on ‘how to import quiz files’ which will be relevant to the other quiz creation methods mentioned in this article.

Aitken format: Creating multiple-choice questions in Notepad

The Aitken format is a basic method for writing a series of multiple choice questions in a text-editor Capture(such as NotePad for Windows), this can then be saved to your computer and imported directly into your Study Direct site. See the Moodle documentation for more details.

The language syntax used to type the questions in this format is very simple and easy to understand (see the example on the right).

The first line of text forms the question, this is then followed by a series of answer options, (labelled A-Z) followed by a single correct answer.

Whilst this method is really quick, simple and easy to learn – it’s important to type the syntax correctly, capitalize your letters and put your full-stops in the correct place. Another limitation is that it can only be used to create multiple choice question types with single answers and has no facility for entering feedback outside of editing the questions after import into Study Direct.

GIFT format: Creating questions without restriction

Similar to the Aitken format, the GIFT format works on the principle of typing questions into a text editor which can be imported into Moodle. Whilst Aitken is purely designed for multiple choice questions, GIFT can be used to include any question type, feedback or mark setting that’s offered by the Moodle quiz.

However, due to this flexibility, it’s no surprise that this is the most difficult of the three methods to learn. I would only recommend this to users with a good understanding of the Moodle quiz activity and a basic knowledge of programming.

If you’re interested in learning more about the GIFT format then you may find the following webpages useful.

  • Quick reference guide from Pacific Computing Technologies includes examples and explanations of the syntax for creating various question types.
  • Text 2 Gift Moodle test creator website by Manuel Villas provides basic examples and a tool for error checking and converting copy and pasted text (from any word processor) into a GIFT file.
  • Moodle documentation provides in depth instruction and explanation of the GIFT format.

Whilst these tools and techniques have the potential to improve efficiency, save time and make it easier to create Moodle quizzes, they are no substitute for writing good quality questions and feedback! In a future blog post we’ll offer some advice on effective question design. In the meantime you might find this article on Writing multiple choice questions for higher order thinking helpful.

Please contact your School Learning Technologist if you would like to explore any of the methods mentioned in this article in more detail.

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