18 Aug 2017

Administer Automated Offline Quizzes with Moodle

If you are like most educational institutions, you are most probably still using the tradidtional paper and pencil testing for students, although a growing number of institutions are opting for a computer-based or online Moodle tests. The paper-and-pencil tests pose many challenges to administer for students. They can be very time-consuming to correct, even though they are multiple choice questions, and are susceptible to student cheating, unless you have the time to shuffle the answers and questions and correct the different versions. Thankfully, Moodle has a remarkable plugin Offline Quiz, contributed by Academic Moodle Cooperation.

After installing Offline Quiz Moodle plugin use the embedded cheat sheet below to help configure and administer a successful offline tests.

The Offline Quizzes plugin works much like an Optical Mark Reader, which reads the shaded bubbled or checkboxes and grades the tests based on that. The Offline Quiz plugin provides the PDF or Doc version of both the question sheet and the answer form. What is really remarkable is that it can give up to six groups of shuffled questions and answers, a great way to lessen cheating. Each student will get his pre-filled answer form with his ID as configured using the plugin. After the papers are scanned, students and teachers, based upon the teachers’ preference can see the errors after they are imported to Moodle and become part of the Moodle Gradebook.

More precisely, a complete offline quiz consists (at least) of the following steps:

  • A teacher creates an offline quiz in Moodle and adds multiple-choice questions, all-or-nothing multiple-choice questions or description questions (text) to the quiz. This is very similar to creating online quizzes (standard Moodle quizzes).
  • From the question lists the teacher creates question sheets and answer forms as PDF (DOCX) documents using the module. 
  • The question sheets and answer forms are handed out to students for the actual quiz. The students mark the answers they think are correct in the answer form.
  • The teacher scans the filled-in answer forms and uploads the resulting images into the offline quiz. The scanned answer forms are evaluated and graded automatically by the module. 
  • If necessary, the teacher corrects errors that might have occurred due to mistakes made by the students or due to bad scan quality.

After results have been created in an offline quiz, students can review their result as usual. If the teacher allows it, students can also see the scanned answer forms and which markings have been recognized as crosses.

The module supports up to six groups which are not related to Moodle course groups. Each group can contain a different set of questions in a different order. Separate question sheets and answer forms are created for the different offline quiz groups.

The module also supports lists of participants which are useful for checking which students actually took part in the exam. Lists of participants are pre-filled with students in Moodle. PDF versions of those lists can be created in the module for easy marking during the exam. The marked lists can be uploaded and evaluated automatically.

Admin Settings

As an administrator you can set the default values instance-wide on the settings page for administrators in the MC Offline quiz module.

  • formula for participant identification (text field)
  • mix questions (checkbox)
  • mix answers (checkbox)
  • logo URL (text field)
  • copyright indication (checkbox)
  • settings for exam inspection (checkbox)
  • decimal places (drop down)
  • paper’s white level (drop down)
  • 1-click inscription (checkbox)
  • role for inscription (drop down)
  • saving days (text field)

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01 Jul 2017

Moodle Nested Course Format for Complex, Multi-level Courses

Moodle course formats and additional plugins offer a myriad of options for any course to meet its specific  requirements. From one topic courses, to task-based courses, to social learning course, to weekly course formats, Moodle can cater for everyone’s needs. But many courses are complex, which forces the instructor to arrange the contents in  sub-components or  multi-levels. For example, my English class includes: Literature, Grammar, Writing, Vocabulary, SAT, Research Competency. Now, if I were to use any topical format, my Moodle course will have the above components as main Moodle course topics and all the sub-components will be laid out on the the topic page, where students will have to scroll forever to find all the complex contents of Literature, such as activities and resources based on different texts.

As a teacher, I will also have a major problem in 1- laying out and sequencing the content of each subject component using labels to separate the contents, and 2- showing/hiding contents that need to be revealed or hidden from students at specific times during the year. From my experience, this results in needless headaches and a lot of cognitive load on my part to hide/reveal separate contents that could go on forever.

This is where Moodle’s flexible sections format, nested topic format, comes in for the aid. The flexible sections course format looks very similar to the topic format except:

  • there is no parameter “Number of sections”, sections can be added and removed as necessary
  • section can also be added inside another section
  • each section (regardless of its nesting level) can be shown expanded or collapsed. Teacher can change it in edit mode.
  • If section is displayed collapsed, its name is displayed as a link to the separate page and on this separate page the link “Back to … ” is displayed
  • If teacher hides a section all nested sections and activities become hidden as well.
  • if section has both activities and subsections activities are displayed first.


flexformat-top sections 





Add as many top sections as you need.









control top level topic

Control Top Level Sections, highlight, make sub-section top section level, delete, move section, and hide/show section.








Add and arrange sub-sections to top level sections. Make a a sub-section, a top section level. Hide sub-sections, and its activities/resources.








arrange sections and subsectionsArrange sections and subjections. Move top sections to sub-sections.




endlessly add subsections and sub-sub-sectionsEndlessly add sub-sections, and sub-sub-sections for complex. courses.



expand contract subsections and sections


Expand/contract section and sub-sections.







The flexible course format speaks for itself, it can provide for all multi-level courses, typically those that last for a semester or a whole year, specifically in an academic setting.

Give it a try and let us know in the comment below.

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23 Jul 2016

Student Competencies and Learning Plans in Moodle 3.1 that You Really Need to Harness


The new trend of competency based education is taking the education institutions by storm. Personally, I do not think it is a fad and that it might wither away down the road. Competency based education advocates have been diligently at work for years to make it seep into the educational institutions’ culture. INACOL’s latest project  Competencyworks is one example. As defined by CompetencyWorks, competency education

refers to a systems model in which (1) teaching and learning are designed to ensure students are becoming proficient by advancing on demonstrated mastery and (2) schools are organized to provide timely and differentiated support to ensure equity. A competency-based structure enables personalized learning to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible. With clear and calibrated understanding of proficiency, learning can be tailored to each student’s strengths, needs, and interests and enable student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn.

Some of the characteristics of CBE are, as defined by CompetencyWorks, ar =e

  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.


Educational vendors, especially, educational technology vendors, have capitalized on CBE, sometimes renaming it as  mastery-based education, to bring in customers. Moodle, the open source learning management system, has added Competencies features for its new Moodle 3.1 release that administrators, teachers, and students, if using them right, will find them remarkably beneficial.

Competencies in Moodle 3.1

Competencies features are broken into three parts in Moodle, and each part is interacted differently by Moodle admins, Moodle course teachers, and Moodle students.

1. Competency Framework is where the Moodle administrator names the framework with which teachers and students will work on.

2. Competencies are the competencies that the Admin links to the competency Frameworks and then Moodle Admin or the teacher can link the competency to the course. Teachers can also link activities to competencies.

3. Student Learning Plan is where the student with the help of the teacher constructs a learning plan and links it to competencies that he or she needs to meet.


Below is a video playlist of three parts on how teachers, admin and students can use competencies in Moodle.


Moodle also has two plugins if you need to import or export competencies. This comes it really easy to transfer competencies in and out of Moodle instead of manually entering them.

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15 Aug 2015

Here’s How to Make Your Moodle Course a Social Learning Course


In an earlier post, 7 Reasons Why Moodle Should Be Your Preferred LMS, I argued that because of its openness and easy customization, Moodle eats any other LMS on breakfast Smile  In this post, I will show you how you can create a social learning course that has the same look and feel, but with much more features, like Edmodo and Google Classroom, both are highly used by k12 schools. This is done by a new Course Format plugin called Socialwall. (Warning: If you have a course set up and want to change its format to Socialwall, be careful as it might yield to undesirable results).

So, let’s assume you had this boring course last year with a focus on topics. Your course includes topics that students should engage in and submit assignments, collaborate, etc. and then move on to a new topic. However, for this year you want to make communication and social learning as central, not topics. You look at Edmodo, Elgg,Google Classroom etc. and like what you see. Now, with the course format plugin called Socialwall you can do just that in Moodle.

The Moodle Socialwall will transform your Moodle course into a social learning platform. This includes a familiar post interface, timeline of posts, filtering of the timeline, and integration with Moodle’s activities and resources. A social learning format allows teachers to pick up the tool and begin using it right away.

Socialwall Official Page on Moodle

Here’s a Quick Slideshow and Video Introducing Socialwall




Installation and Use

Here’s a Google Hangout on How to Install and use Sociallwall course format.


Read the full capabilities of Socialwall on the official Moodle site.

Socialwall is part of a set of plugins that you also need to install. Go to the Socialwall plugin set to install them too. These include:

  • a new Course Format (called socialwall, format_socialwall)


  • a new Filter (filter_urlresource) to alter the way a posted url-Resource will be displayed
  • a local plugin (local_filterurlresbak) to backup and restore the filter data (unfortunately moodle doesn’t support backup and restore for filter data).
  • a new Block to display upcoming events and alerts related to the course (block_alerts).


So, what do you think of Socialwall course format? Will focus on social learning instead of topical learning work with your students, at your institution? Will it work better with corporate learning? Have you used any social learning platforms before like Elgg or Edmodo? How do they compare?

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