Monday, March 13, 2006

Creating GIFT quizzes for Moodle

Moodle continues to be part of our classroom life.
One of the many ways we use it is for quizzes. The students tell me they prefer to take their quizzes and tests in Moodle because they get instant feedback. I prefer it because for low-level things like spelling tests, they take half the time and are scored correctly by someone besides me.

Actually, they have taken much longer, but the time has been coming out of my prep time instead of my class time. Creating the quizzes in Moodle is a fairly tedious process. It is easy and works well, but it is putzy.

I knew that the Moodle quiz module would import GIFT files, but I wasn't having much luck getting that to work. I incorrectly assumed that if I exported the files in GIFT format and opened them with TextEdit, then I could do a quick "Save As" command and voila! I'd have a template that I could quickly update and then upload each week.

It was a good idea, but it wasn't working. Actually, it worked once, but the next week the file wouldn't upload. And once a quiz has been taken by the students, I could no longer export the questions. In frustration, I've continued creating the quizzess in Moodle.

Today I finally took the time to play around with different options. Here's what I discovered.
  • Don't start with exported question. Open a new document in your text editor.
  • Make sure the text editor is set to use plain text, not any flavor of rich text.
  • Leave a blank line between each question, otherwise all the questions import as one big question.
  • Make sure the file has the suffix .txt
Following those guidelines, my short answer quizzess are importing cleanly and saving me time. What's frustrating now is that I waited so long to figure this out. Moodle has an excellent built-in help system and by following enough links within it, I found clear directions that got me started on the aforementioned discoveries. Nothing like reading the directions to get me on my way.