Multimedia and Assessments with Moodle 1.9 (part 1)

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Adding multimedia to multiple choice answers in Moodle quizzes and lessons

Sometimes it can be useful to insert multimedia elements into the answers of a multiple choice question in a Moodle lesson or quiz. This can apply to situations where students are required to:

  • Recognize audio excerpts corresponding to text, images, or videos (for example, in music or language courses students have to identify a melody from a music sheet excerpt, or the correct pronunciation of a given text)
  • Recognize video scenes (for example, corresponding to a certain dialogue, gestural conversation, and so on)

Adding multimedia to the question body is fairly easy because we can use the HTML editor and just link to a multimedia file, and the Moodle filter will do the rest. But adding questions for which the answer choices are multimedia files is a different story, as there is no HTML editor, just a simple text form. However, this is not complicated with the help of the correct HTML code.

For example, in the course, Module 1 – Music Evolves—students have to post excerpts of songs from different moments of a musical genre to a forum topic as attachments. In the same module, we will create a quiz (Mini-quiz – history of music) that will use the excerpts posted by our students in its questions, as an incentive for other students to have a look at their colleagues’ work.

So, after creating a new quiz and adding a new multiple choice question to it (for example, “Which of the following excerpts refers to medieval music?”) we can add links to the MP3 files submitted by students as choices. We can get these links by right-clicking (CTRL+click for Mac users) on the linked MP3 file in the forum post and then clicking on the Copy Link Location option, as shown in the following screenshot:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Next, while editing the multiple choice question, we can paste the link location in the answer form, for example, for Choice 1. This is the easy way, as Moodle, with its multimedia filter, will do the rest:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

As a result, we’ll get something like this:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

However, note that the entire link to the file shows up, which is not very aesthetically-pleasing (and can give clues to the correct answer to students in the filename). We can solve this by using a simple HREF HTML tag in the answer forms, so that we obtain something cleaner, such as this:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

In this case, we can use the following code: <a href=”pasted link location”> link text </a> with a SPACE in the link text:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

The same concept applies for videos and music from online services (TeacherTube, YouTube, Imeem, and so on) as we can paste the embed code in the answer form. In this case, there is no need to use any extra HTML code. So adding the embed code in the following manner:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

will result in the following screenshot:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

When using this process, we should keep in mind a couple of things:

  • The multimedia files that are linked in the choice options MUST be available to the students in the course. If we copy the link location from the files area but the file is not available to the students, we’ll have problems. The same applies to attachments in forum posts, with separate groups.
  • Consider the situation where the files linked to in the answer options are those of an attachment in a forum post on the course. Suppose the question is shared and the quiz is restored in another course or exported to another Moodle installation. In this case, there will be problems with the file access as the hyperlink will point to the original source in a particular course, which is not currently available.
  • In the case of videos or audio from online services, embedding may be disabled by request, so these can later become unavailable in the course. Too many links to MP3 files on the same quiz page, and/or MP3 files of considerable size can slow down the page loading.

As a possible solution to the first three issues, we can have the multimedia files in a public folder on our server. In this way, files can be accessed from different courses and domains. We could, for example, download a YouTube video and make it available on our server, if this service is blocked in our school or institution. Another option is to upload these files to the course files area (but in this case, the files must be made available to students in the course, by using the Display a directory resource, or they will not have permissions to listen to or see them).

There is a trick that can be used to make content available in a course without showing it in the course topics. To do this, we can go to the course settings and add an extra topic, creating the resources and activities that we don’t want to show to our students (however, everything for now should be visible, so no “eyes closed” icons!). After we’re done, we should go again to the course settings and remove the extra topic. In this way, the content is there, is “visible” from a permissions point of view, but at the same doesn’t show in the course. This can be a way of having the files available for quizzes and other activities.

As a possible solution to the last problem, we can use page breaks, or have one question per page in the quiz, so that students can only load one question at a time. Another solution is to reduce the file sizes, either by slicing or encoding the files in other formats. In the case of a MP3, reducing the bitrate could be an option.

Adding multimedia to quizzes, lessons, and assignments

Remember that multimedia can be used in interesting ways in not only multiple choice answers but also in question bodies and lesson content and assignments. We can create lessons in a tutorial style, with videos followed by some questions on the video’s content, leading to different lesson branches according to the answers, or assignments can be presented as quick briefing videos. And don’t forget that if we want to receive multimedia assignments, we should set this activity to allow students’ file uploads.

Creating exercises with Hot Potatoes

Hot Potatoes (http://hotpot.uvic.ca) from Half Baked Software allows us to create interactive web games and puzzles in a simple way. One of the advantages of Hot Potatoes over Moodle’s quiz engine is that Hot Potatoes makes it easier to create exercises, and some of these are very different from the ones available in Moodle, for example crosswords, and finding pairs via drag and drop. The license for this software is a peculiar one, as it allows free use by individuals working for state-funded educational institutions that are non-profit making, on the condition that the material produced using the application is freely available to anyone via the Web (this means that a Moodle course without access to guests, without a key wouldn’t probably qualify). Other uses require a license, so we should keep this in mind.

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

We need to register the software at http://hotpot.uvic.ca/reg/register.htm. A key will be sent to our email inbox and we can then register it going to Help | Register and filling in the details.

There are six different types of exercises that we can create with this software:

  • JQuiz – question-based exercises
  • JCloze – fill in the gaps exercises
  • JMatch – matching exercises
  • JMix – jumble exercises
  • JCross – crosswords
  • The Masher – linked exercises of the different types mentioned above

We will only take a look at the JCross and JMix exercises, as the other formats can be achieved with the question types that Moodle provides in quizzes and lessons. However, you should try them and see for yourself how easy it can be!

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