Embeddable Moodle Quiz Questions: one year on

News from the OU Quiz Development Shed — July 2019

OU Learning Systems
Jul 19 · 7 min read
An English back-garden shed, with a question mark on it.
An English back-garden shed, with a question mark on it.
Re-sited and slightly resized, the Quiz Development Shed is still going strong

Following several questions from other users in the wider Moodle community, I thought it worthwhile to pen a summary which we can then link to from our Moodle Plugin pages (which are, of course, Embed Question and the associated Filter).

Just a reminder: both plugins must be installed, the button must be configured in the Atto Text Editor settings, and it should be configured so that only tutors/course production staff can see the button.

Of course I should start off by referring back to the original blog post we made last year, which demonstrated the feature in Moodle 3.4/3.5.

How does the Embeddable Moodle Quiz Question feature work in Moodle 3.6+?

It’s almost exactly the same as before, except the ID goes in a proper ID field in the category form these days.

Embeddable Category creation

  • Expand the Question Bank menu and select ‘Categories’.
The Question Bank options
  • Usually the default category for the website is fine to add in a new subcategory (if it is local to the website/course).
  • On the ‘Create category’ page, input the desired category ‘Name’ and ‘ID number’. In the example, we are using Embeddable as the category ID. Just remember that the ID is case-sensitive.
New to Moodle 3.6: the ‘ID number’ field in the question category settings
  • Although an ID in the title is no longer required by the system, you might want to still use the title field to indicate that the new category contains embeddable questions, just in case you are planning to manage many question categories and questions and want to be able to find them easily. We are thinking about how to make embeddable categories/questions with IDs stand out in the Question Bank administration screens, but that’s low down on the ‘To do’ list at the moment.
  • Select ‘Add category’ at the bottom of the web page.
  • You should now have an embeddable question category.

Embeddable question creation

  • There are many ways you could be approaching this — creating a brand-new question, importing questions, moving questions from a different category etc., so I’m not getting into the specifics. You essentially need to be on the ‘Create question/Edit question’ screen.
  • Under the ‘General feedback’ text area in every question form is the ID field. Type in a unique, memorable name (again, it is case sensitive) to identify the specific question.
New to Moodle 3.6: the ‘ID number’ field in the question settings
  • Save the question.
  • You should now have at least one embeddable question inside an embeddable category.

Embedding the questions

  • Choose the position for the question to be embedded and select the ‘Embed question’ button within the Atto editor. Note that you will probably have to expand the ATTO Text Editor toolbar to access it.
A vastly simplified Atto toolbar, for demonstration purposes only!
  • The ‘Embed question’ dialogue opens. Most users will simply need to select the category and then question needed. Note that only relevant categories or questions are displayed (that is, categories or questions with IDs in the ID number fields).
Choose the category, followed by the question. Only embeddable categories and questions will show.
  • While the defaults should suffice, you can specify further question options in the ‘Attempt’ and ‘Display’ sections below the question selector should you wish.
  • Once the ‘Embed question’ button is pressed, the embed code is added to the editable content area. Note that the category/question ID is declared, followed by a security string (which we added to stop students from trying to guess any formal assessment test questions). If any addition attempt or display options were set, they would also be displayed in the embed code.
Someone’s started Chris off on automotive history…
  • The content can then be saved, and the question will be displayed when viewed.
An quiz question embedded in a Moodle page

Common questions from the Moodle Community

Howdy folks. I thought it would be easier to add a little FAQ (frequently asked questions) at the end.

“So how does the Embeddable Moodle Quiz Question feature work in Moodle v3.x?”

This post hopefully covers how the feature works in Moodle 3.6+, and if you are using an earlier version of Moodle, our previous blog post should cover that.

Basically the difference is:

  • For Moodle 3.4 and 3.5, you had to add the IDs to the title (e.g. ‘[ID:example]’ in the category and question titles).
  • Following Moodle 3.6.0, you use the ID number field on the category and question edit forms.

“I see there’s an upgrade script for moving from Moodle 3.5 to 3.6— what does it do?”

The upgrade script will identify all of your Moodle Quiz categories and questions that have an ID in the title (e.g. “[ID:example]”). It will remove the “[ID:]”, but move the ID text itself (“example”) into the ID number field within the respective category/question form.

“Is it possible to embed ‘Random from category’ questions?”

We’ve just had an internal release where we have:

  • added support for ‘Random from category’ questions
  • made a very slight improvement to accessibility,
  • made minor improvements to the error handling and messages.

Once we are back from our July holidays, we’ll check the latest code against Moodle 3.7 and share the new version of the plugin with the community.

Basically, to enable ‘Random from category’, all you do is point to an embeddable category with at least two embeddable questions in it, and the system will display one of the questions when a user views the page. Each time the page is refreshed or otherwise revisited, a new questions will be displayed. For obvious reasons, we suggest a minimum of three embeddable questions in an embeddable category for this, but the more questions, the better the randomisation!

The reason I’m repeating the word ‘embeddable’ so much is that we’ve had some content-producing users set up an embeddable category, but forget to make some (or all) of the questions within it embeddable. Obviously this affects what the system can show.

“Now that the IDs are in the form, categories and questions with IDs are quite difficult to find in the Question Bank. Can you make this easier please?”

Yes, we didn’t think about that at the time, and it’s only become apparent now that this feature is being embraced in significant numbers on individual websites/courses. We’ll hopefully address this in the near future.

In the meantime, perhaps use ‘(emb)’ or similar at the end of your category/question titles so it’s easier to see them amongst non-embeddable categories/questions?

“Why aren’t the question responses stored? Are you planning to do something about that?”

Yes, that’s been the plan since day one.

Phase 1 was to build the ability to embed questions as small interactive elements, and see how it was received (and ensure that we got that aspect working solidly). We achieved that in September 2018, and have been monitoring user feedback and making minor improvements since then.

Phase 2 is to build in response storage. Originally we were planning to deliver this for September 2019 as the ‘Anniversary release’, but we have had to delay due to our higher-priority work. We’ll hopefully be working in it soon and release Embed Question v2.0 to the community in the first quarter of 2020.

Having some student progress tracking information (for students but also for teachers to see their tutor-groups engagement and performance) would be a nice-to-have; that might feature in v2.0 or a later v2.1 release.

Phase 3 is to ensure that it all works in the Moodle App, which will hopefully be released sometime between April and September 2020.

“Why don’t embedded Essay questions work?”

We designed this feature for interactive questions — Essay is not interactive (in that it requires a teacher to mark and return the work).

If you want an interactive constructive question, may we suggest Moodle’s ShortAnswer, our PatternMatch (big update for European languages coming soon), or Gordon Bateson’s Essay (auto-grade).

We will probably disable Essay questions from being selectable at some point.

“Will this become part of Moodle Core?”

We hope so, once we’re happy that we’ve got it to a good state. Maybe Moodle 3.9?


Chris Nelson is a Senior Product Development Manager for The Open University’s Moodle-based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). He is responsible for Digital Assessment and assessment-related developments.

Chris has completed the last of his course essays, so is about to start writing his dissertation for the OU’s MSc in Psychology.

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