A quiz is never just a quiz. There are different reasons for conducting a quiz; for example, you might want to assess your students as part of their course grade, or you might just want a warmer to kick off a class. The purpose of a quiz affects its place and time of delivery, and all of these affect the technology we use – or at least they should. In practice, we often choose the tech because it’s shiny, our institution has a licence, or just ebcause it’s what we’re used to. For this reason, it is worth taking a hard look at the different tools in our toolbox from time to time to see if they are really fit for purpose. Sometimes our purposes change; sometimes the tools change. To this end, I’m going to compare some of the tools I’ve used to make and deliver quizzes, starting with the Moodle’s native Quiz module and H5P quizzes.
Most people reading this blog are Moodle users, so Moodle’s own Quiz module is the obvious place to start. It has the advantage that it’s sitting right there in Moodle, so you didn’t need to use any other software, let alone invest in a licence. It also means seamless integration with the Moodle gradebook, groups etc. Another advantage of Moodle integration is that it is easy to create question banks that can be used across courses.
The module provides an impressive variety of question types even out of the box, and moodle.org lists around 80 question-type plugins! There may be other quiz software that allows students to respond to questions by writing musical intervals or editing molecules, but I don’t know of any that does both!
Moodle quizzes have some rudimentary security measures: there is an option to go full screen and block other windows from opening, and you can limit logins to a certain IP range to ensure that the person in the classroom is the person who is actually logged into Moodle. We are not talking cast-iron security here, but it’s enough to deter casual cheaters. While I have expressed my dislike of overt anti-cheating measures elsewhere, these are not too obtrusive.
There are a few drawbacks to Moodle quizzes, the main one being that you have to be pretty familiar with Moodle to set them up. Moodle quizzes are highly configurable, and all that configurability comes at the cost of ease of set-up. If you’re running Moodle for an institution and there’s an institutional decision to use Moodle quizzes in all courses, be prepared for a lot of messages from confused teachers, and consider running a workshop or two. For a very large scale solution, you might consider having teachers write questions in plain text and having the learning technologists add them to Moodle (which is what my current school is doing with its forthcoming online courses).
The other major minus is that compared to the competition, Moodle quizzes are neither pretty nor fun. However, that could sometimes be an advantage. If quizzes are assessed, you might want to create a more serious, no-nonsense feel. In my own teaching experience, I have found Moodle quizzes most useful for frequent, low-stakes assessment, such as vocabulary quizzes or testing recall of recently covered material.
The question is why you would want to do that, and the answer is usually “Because it’s prettier.” Maybe it’s because the kind of people who write Moodle modules tend to think of themselves as coders whereas the kind of people who write H5P think of themselves as web designers.
While H5P quizzes look nicer than their Moodle conterparts and can be integrated into the Moodle gradebook (if you set up the activity from within Moodle rather than just uploading an H5P file) they are not so well designed for assessment as native Moodle quizzes. I would be inclined to use H5P more for self-study materials, as then you can benefit from its other strengths. For example, the Interactive Book content type, which is really a container for other content types, is great for creating course materials that have little quizzes interspersed with informational content and is thus a good replacement for the Moodle Book module.
At the risk of oversimplifying, Moodle Quizzes are best for summative assessment and H5P quizzes for formative assessment. Both will work either in or out of class, but I would normally recommend the former for in-class assessment and the latter for at-home study. Neither, however, are ideal for live quizzes to be carried out as part of lessons, whihc is what I will look at in Part 2.