Multimedia and Assessments with Moodle 1.9 (part 1)

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 ( 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 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!

JCross - Crosswords

In our course, Module 4 - Music is a language—students have to deal with a lot of new concepts on basic music theory. A crosswords exercise can be a good way to recall some of these.

After opening Hot Potatoes and clicking on the JCross potato, we see the standard interface—a grid, in which we can start creating a crossword exercise. We can start by adding a title to the exercise on the leftmost pane, labeled Title.

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Then, we can click on the button shown in the following screenshot to Create a grid layout automatically from a list of words; this is the third button from the right on the toolbar:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

We can then Enter each word or phrase on a separate line, similar to the following example, and then click on the Make the grid button. We can also define the maximum grid size, in this case the default of 20x20 letters. When we export the exercise as HTML to include it in Moodle, this will automatically be adjusted to the size of the words in the exercise.

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

When the grid is ready, we would get something like this:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Next, we need to define the clues, just like in any crossword exercise, by clicking on the button Add Clues, below the title. We will then get a list of the words in our crosswords exercise:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Here, we just need to click on each word and add the clue in the field provided, clicking on OK after specifying each clue. We can also add pictures, URLs, or other media (videos and Flash) to the clues by using the Insert menu. Let's look at how to add an image.

For the word CLEF, we could insert a picture of a bass clef so that students can see a clue for the word. To do this, we need to select menu option Insert | Picture | Picture from Local File and then select an image of a clef from our computer. Again, remember that we need to always keep files for a single project in one folder to avoid images disappearing when the exercise is used on different computers or on the Web. We should first save the Hot Potatoes project in a folder, and then create an images folder where we can put all of the images for this exercise.

So, after selecting a picture of a bass clef from our images folder, we would get the following configuration window:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

After we click on the OK button, our crossword exercise is ready, with the HTML code for the image already inserted:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

We just need to export it by pressing the F6 key or by clicking on the button to the left of the downwards red arrow on the toolbar. We can then save it in our project folder, and preview it in the browser:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

JMix - Jumble exercises

With JMix, we can create jumbled phrases or words, and students will have to put the jumbled parts into the correct order. In our course, Module 5 - Being a musician—students have to write about their favorite artists. We can build on this by creating a JMix exercise (or by letting students create one) that works as a review for some of the facts that they identified about these artists (again, this is an incentive for the colleagues to read what others have done).

After clicking on the JMix potato, we can start by adding a Title and saving our JMix file.

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Then, in the Main sentence form, we can insert a sentence separated by breaks. For example, to break up the sentence "Richard Bona was born in the Cameroon in 1967" into word segments, you would type this into the main sentence box:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Note that in this case the phrase could be written in two ways, so there was the need to add an alternative sentence so that students can provide either answer and still be marked correct.

We can also add pictures and other multimedia elements to the title. For example, in this case we can add a photo of Richard Bona, again stored in a folder called images. Next, click at the end of the title that we added in the Title window and then go to Insert | Picture | Picture from Local File and select the photo from the images folder on our computer. To add the photo below the title, we can add a break tag, as shown below:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia


Finally, we need to export the exercise as HTML. For this type of exercise, we can export in two formats—with (CTRL+F6 key) or without (F6 key) the drag and drop functionality (we can also use the export buttons on the toolbar). As an example, here's the exercise with drag and drop:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Richard Bona's picture source: RV's agen (2006). Richard Bona 1.jpg. Retrieved October 10, 2008,

Moodle it!

Hot Potatoes produces an HTML file that we can add as an activity in Moodle with the same name (this activity module comes with Moodle by default but must be activated by the administrator). We just need to upload the HTML file, together with the images and other elements that we used in the exercise (for example, Richard Bona's picture), to our course files area, and then point to the HTML file from the Hot Potatoes activity settings. Let's try it with the JCross exercise that we just created. After clicking on the Choose or upload a file… button, we should upload the HTML file generated by the Hot Potatoes software, along with all of the multimedia files that we attached (in this case, an images folder and its contents) we can for example send a zip of the HTML and the folder and later unzip it in Moodle:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

We will get a result similar to the following screenshot:

Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

One of the advantages of integrating Hot Potatoes in this way rather than just as a resource has to do with Moodle keeping logs of students activity in the exercise, which can be of help if we want to see what they've been doing. Another advantage is the easy way of creating quizzes, when compared to Moodle's quiz engine.


In this article, we looked at integrating multimedia elements into assessment activities in Moodle, such as quizzes, lessons, and assignments and we saw the particular case of how to add multiple choice multimedia answers to quizzes and lessons. We also considered an application, Hot Potatoes that is capable of not only producing different type of exercises such as crosswords or image puzzles, but also of facilitating the construction of quizzes. The activities created with this application were later integrated in Moodle, using a dedicated activity into Moodle.

In the next article we will create interactive exercises with JClic and assess multimedia using rubrics.

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