Setting up an online exam in moodle with minimal headaches
This is for the instructional designer, educational developers, and teaching assistants out there who, once in a while, have to set up an online exam. Moodle is feature-rich and clunky. Things can go wrong, but they better not.
Suppose you already have the draft of the exam in a word document. Now it needs to go into your university’s learning management system. Fight the urge to rebuild the exam in moodle by starting with page one. This is my workflow:
Fill up the question bank before setting up the exam.
First create all questions in the question bank. If you have a lot of them, use IDs keep an overview. Don’t mess with automatic import. One missing comma will trip up your import. Instead, copy and “paste without formatting” (Command+Option+Shift+V). Or the moodle editor will drive you nuts and you end up cleaning html code.
If you need to randomise questions, build categories first.
Students don’t all write the exact same exam. Questions can be randomised, meaning some students answer 2+4, others 3+5, and others 2+5. Same principle, similar complexity. For this to work, questions are pulled from the same question category. It is wise to build these categories first. It’s like creating a folder structure before filling in the questions.
Document your progress & organise quality control
Once you are done, push the questions into the exam. Document what you’re doing by color coding and commenting in your word-file. Minimise the margin for error — and your risk for headaches — by using a big screen to have the word document with the exam draft and the browser with moodle side-by-side. Important: have someone else check the exam content and the moodle settings before students start their assessment. Organise quality control.
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