Tag: ETH Moodle

Moodle is more interactive than ever with H5P

Task: Mark the security measures for this aircraft

H5P is a special toolset that enables teachers to enrich their Moodle courses. Teachers can firstly add interactive elements in Moodle content and secondly adjust the visual appearance of Moodle course pages. Both can enhance the learning process.

Research shows that digital learning is most effective when students interact with content, answer questions and most importantly, get immediate feedback. The critically important feedback loop that is naturally present in face-to-face learning is often missing in digital learning environments. Students want to find out immediately if their answer was correct or not. By providing performance feedback during digital learning, teachers can provide learners with a sense of the real-world consequences of decisions students make. Therefor the vast array of available interactive elements is especially important, since it offers options for almost every learning situation.

Effective digital learning should also provide learners with realistic practice opportunities; for example, simulations, scenario-based decision making, case-based evaluations, and authentic exercises.

Use H5P’s interactive elements to support reflection, application, rehearsal, elaboration, contextualisation, debate, evaluation, synthesisation, and so on. Focus on using H5P to add interaction and attractive graphic elements. H5P is not recommended for graded activities as tech savvy students can download and analyse the resulting XML file.

Example elements to increase interactivity

Select interactive elements, such as “Agamotto” which compares images as shown below.

“Find multiple hotspots” invites students to point out important aspects in images. Example: Find all the vegetables in this picture.

Or you can add a structural element to your course by adding the element “Accordion” which enables you to create collapsable paragraphs.

How to add H5P to your Moodle course

This must happen in two distinct steps. First you must create the content and save it. Secondly you embed the new content to your course.

To create the H5P content, access the “Content bank”. There is a shortcut in the navigation to the left of your screen.

Click on the “add” button and select the type of element you would like to create.

To help you decide which H5P element is best for your needs, we have created several exemplars to help you choose. You can view these exemplars in the “Building an effective Moodle course” in the section “Using special features“. (No enrollment key necessary).

In addition you can visit the H5P website to see more detailed examples, instructions and tutorials. Important note: There are more elements listed on the H5P website than are available on the ETH Moodle system. 

After you have created H5P element, make sure you save it with a clear name so you can recognise it later. 

Now you have two options for using the H5P element.

The first option is to add it as a separate activity. Simply add a new activity and select H5P. Then choose your pre-made element. This scenario make sense when you want to focus on the element as a stand alone activity and don’t want to embed it within additional text.

The second option is to add H5P as part of a text. Navigate to the exact spot where you would like to add the element (for example in a Moodle book or in a label on the course page) and begin editing.

In the editing toolbar, first expand the view of editing tools.

Then select H5P.

This will prompt you to “browse repositories”. The H5P content bank is shown as one of the repositories. All the elements you have already created are shown here. Select the one you need. 

We recommend selecting the option “Create an alias/shortcut to the file”. This ensures that when you make a change to the original element in the content bank, it is automatically updated on your course page or wherever it has been embedded. 

Preview how it looks by assuming the student role. (Switch roles by clicking on your profile picture.) We also recommend checking out it appears in the Moodle app. To make any changes to the element, you will need to go back to the content bank using your computer (not your mobile device), edit and save. It will update automatically if you have embedded it as an alias.  


More information in the “Building an effective Moodle course” in the section “Using special features“. (No enrollment key necessary).

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How to Multiple Choice with Moodle

Multiple Choice (MC) questions are a popular but challenging to master item format for formative assessments and examinations. They facilitate probing students’ knowledge of facts and understanding of simple concepts and their relationships, particularly in large student cohorts.
MC items consist of a stem followed by a number of options. The stem always ends with a short and concise question. It should be possible to answer this question meaningfully without looking at the options (e.g. ‘which of the following options is true’ cannot be answered meaningfully, whereas ‘which animal species are mammals’ can be answered meaningfully). The question may be preceded by a case-study, central idea, or more elaborate problem statement. The options are short and concise and avoid negations.
MC items can be split into two families: The one-best-answer family and the true-false family. In the one-best-answer family, students have to select a single best answer from a set of options. Options that are not the single best answer we call distractors. In the ETH Moodle, this functionality is available through the SC(ETH) question type. In the true-false family, students have to evaluate each option whether it is true or false. In the ETH Moodle, this functionality is available through the MTF(ETH) and the Kprime(ETH) question type. We discourage using the standard Moodle Multiple Choice and the True/False question types, which are no longer needed.

SC(ETH): Single Choice, One-Best-Answer

Single choice (SC), one-best-answer question types are the most appropriate MC format in most occasions. Students need to select a single best answer from a set of options, usually three to five. Because students need to select the best answer from the options, the options by themselves do not need to be strictly true or strictly false. Instead, the best answer needs to be clearly better than all other options. This facilitates the design of much more nuanced questions than is possible with the true-false paradigm. As an alternative to selecting the best answer, students can cross out options they consider to be distractors. Crossing out distractors may either be just a help for students to find the best answer (scoring method SC 1/0) or be relevant for scoring (scoring method Aprime).

Scoring method SC 1/0 (recommended): Students receive full points if the single best option is selected and no points otherwise. Crossed out distractors are disregarded.

Scoring method Aprime: Students receive full points if the single best option is selected, half points if all distractors save one (and save the single best option) are crossed out, and zero points otherwise.

MTF(ETH): Multiple True-False

When a question or problem requires the evaluation of multiple aspects simultaneously, Multiple True-False (MTF) question types may be more appropriate than the SC format. Students need to evaluate every option from a set of one to many options individually as true or false. This implies that each option by itself needs to be clearly and unambiguously true or false. This is a considerable restriction on the kinds of options one can formulate and makes formulating good options much more difficult. Instead of ‘true’ and ‘false’ one can also choose any other two categories, e.g. ‘blue’ and ‘red’, ‘mammal’ and ‘bird’, etc. The MTF(ETH) question type offers two alternative scoring methods.

Scoring method Subpoints (recommended): Students receive subpoints for each correctly marked option.

Scoring method MTF 1/0: Students receive full points if they marked all options correctly, zero points otherwise. This scoring method is rather unpopular with students – the Kprime question type offers a better alternative (see below).

Kprime(ETH): A Popular Compromise

The Kprime question type is a special variant of the MTF question type. It has been popularized through its use in human medicine. The Kprime question type includes exactly four options and the following scoring method: Students receive full points if they mark all four options correctly, half points if they make one mistake, and zero points otherwise. To use this scoring method, select the Kprime scoring method in the Kprime(ETH) question type.

‘Multiple Choice’: No Longer Needed, Soon to be Retired

Please refrain from using the standard Moodle Multiple Choice question type. The scoring mechanics implemented in the standard Moodle Multiple Choice question type are problematic. Please use the SC(ETH), MFT(ETH), and Kprime(ETH) question types instead. We are preparing the migration of existing Multiple Choice items to the new ETH question types. Until this migration is successfully finished, the standard Multiple Choice question type will remain available.

If you are interested in further information on MC items and their design, we recommend the Didactica Course on Multiple Choice. Please refer to the current program https://www.didactica.ethz.ch/

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Flash apocalypse

(image credit: http://catayst.net.nz/flashapocalypse)


Flash in all its forms will no longer be supported by Adobe or any internet browsers by the end of 2020. This has prompted a clean-up of any Flash files on our own Moodle system. For years Adobe Flash was considered state-of-the-art for interactive web content. As time goes by new standards like html5 and webGL have been established and the Flash technology was shown to be vulnerable to attacks. Therefore it was not surprising that about two years ago Adobe announced the end of Flash by 2020.

Since this announcement, all the big and important webservices like YouTube and Facebook have updated their websites using html5 and other technologies. Therefore, it is likely that in the coming months the newest browser versions will prohibit using Flash by default and some of them will kick this functionality out completely. (Microsoft announcement, Google announcement, Mozilla announcement)


Just as most other universities did, we at ETH have seen a lot of project developed in recent years. Flash has been used to display movies, present animations or create interactive objects and simulations. Latest by the end of 2020, (but probably earlier) these will no longer work.

In the spring of 2019 we had a look at all ETH Moodle courses and contacted teachers who were still using Flash in its various forms. We have found individual solutions for each case and Flash will vanish on our Moodle server in the next weeks. ETH lecturers who use Moodle who have not been contacted by us, should not have any problem with the end of Flash in your Moodle courses. When in doubt please contact us.

If you are using flash in other websites, we recommend following the “three f”-model presented by Nikki Sinclair from Catalyst: https://catalyst.net.nz/blog/3fs-surviving-flash-apocalypse

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Weshalb Moodle?

Auf den Beitrag zum neuen Moodle-Design in diesem Blog im Januar diesen Jahres haben wir viel Feedback erhalten. Dafür möchten wir uns herzlich bedanken. Gerne möchten wir Ihnen im Nachgang mit diesem Blogbeitrag aufzeichnen, was eigentlich hinter Moodle steckt und weshalb sich die ETH Zürich für Moodle als strategische Lernplattform entschieden hat.

Seit rund 10 Jahren betreibt die ETH Zürich die zentrale Lernplattform Moodle. Anders als andere Plattformen (bspw. Blackboard) ist die Software Moodle ein Open-Source-Projekt. Vor über 20 Jahren hat ein Universitätsstudent aus Perth mit den Arbeiten an einer Software begonnen, um die Lehre über Distanz zu verbessern bzw. überhaupt erst zu ermöglichen. Martin Dougiamas hat dabei die Software von Beginn an offen gestaltet. So ist der komplette Source Code frei verfügbar, mehr noch: als Open-Source-Projekt fliessen immer wieder Ideen und Softwarecode in das Werkzeug ein.

Moodle bietet viele Schnittstellen, um individuelle Erweiterungen zu programmieren und andere Systeme anzubinden. Die Software ist modular aufgebaut, was es ermöglicht, neue Funktionen hinzuzufügen, ohne den Core-Code zu verändern.

Wer programmiert Moodle

Die Entwicklung des Core-Codes wird vom Headquarter vorantgetrieben, das Niederlassungen in Perth und Barcelona hat. Zur Zeit umfasst das Headquarter rund 75 Personen. Es gibt zusätzlich einige über die Welt verteilte Entwickler, die sich ebenfalls beteiligen. Meistens sind diese bei grossen Universitäten angestellt (auch an der ETH Zürich arbeiten zwei Entwickler für Moodle, dies vor allem im Bereich Onlineprüfungen). Zur Zeit hält Moodle weltweit einen Marktanteil von über 50% für Higher Education. Dies ist umso erstaunlicher, da es mit Blackboard, Brightspace und Instructure grosse Firmen gibt, die mit ihren Produkten an diesem Markt auftreten. Einige spannende Zahlen zu Moodle (Stand Mai 2019):

  • Registrierte Moodle-Installationen: über 100’000
  • Nutzerkonten: über 150 Millionen
  • Quizfragen: über 1.5 Milliarden

Entwicklungen in und für Moodle

Die ETH Zürich hat sich wie oben erwähnt, vor einigen Jahre für Moodle entschieden. Dies hatte verschiedene Gründe, dazu gehören: Die hohe Anpassbarkeit auf individuelle Bedürfnisse, eine sehr aktive und grosse Community, der Open-Source-Gedanke und einiges mehr.

Die ETH Zürich beteiligt sich in diversen Bereichen in der Moodle-Community. Speziell im Bereich Onlineprüfungen entwickeln wir didaktisch verbesserte Fragetypen (kPrime, Single Choice,…) und andere Erweiterungen (Ressilienz-Plugin bei Netzwerkstörungen) und stellen diese den anderen Nutzern – ganz im Open Source Gedanken – zur Verfügung (https://moodle.org/plugins/browse.php?list=contributor&id=91386 and https://github.com/ethz-let)

Das Moodle HQ hat einen klar definierten Entwicklungsplan und eine entsprechende Roadmap. Dies erlaubt es, frühzeitig eine stabile Serviceplanung zu machen. Die Roadmap ist öffentlich: https://docs.moodle.org/dev/Roadmap

Die zwei funktionellen Updates des Moodle-Cores pro Jahr werden an der ETH Zürich nach einigen Wochen installiert und damit auch die neuen und verbesserten Funktionen unseren Studierenden und Dozierenden zur Verfügung gestellt. Dieses Vorgehen ist auch aus Sicherheitsperspektive sinnvoll, da damit auch allfällige Bugs und security issues beseitigt werden.

«Lieber Support, ich habe einen Fehler entdeckt!»
«Lieber Support, ich habe eine tolle Idee!»

Vorteil einer Open-Source Software ist ihre Anpassbarkeit. Man kann grundsätzlich alles verändern. Da wir immer wieder die neueste Version des Core-Codes einspielen, verzichten wir darauf, diesen lokal bei uns zu verändern. In einer Community unterwegs zu sein, heisst aber eben auch, nicht direkten Einfluss auf die Entwicklung des Core-Codes zu haben. Wir sind sehr dankbar, von unseren Studierenden und Dozierenden immer wieder wertvolle Vorschläge zu erhalten. Sofern wir diese nicht direkt auf unserem System – ohne Veränderung des Core-Codes- umsetzen können, geben wir diese gerne in die Community weiter. Leider ist dieser Prozess allerdings nicht immer von Erfolg gekrönt.

Es gibt im Moodle Universum natürlich auch viele andere Entwicklerinnen, die Plugins ebenfalls Open-Source zur Verfügung stellen. Grundsätzlich lassen sich diese auf alle kompatiblen Moodle-Installationen installieren. Allerdings empfiehlt es sich hier, zurückhaltend zu sein. Einerseits weil jedes zusätzliche Modul die Software komplexer (und langsamer) macht. Andererseits muss sehr genau geklärt werden, wie häufig ein Plugin aktualisiert wird. Denn falls ein Plugin nicht mehr gewartet wird, was durchaus passieren kann, ist es irgendwann nicht mehr kompatibel. Dann muss man sich als Moodle-Anbieter entscheiden zwischen Plugin behalten und Moodle veralten lassen oder Plugin löschen und Moodle aktualisieren – beides eher suboptimal. Wir an der ETH haben einige Plugins im Einsatz, so beispielsweise Gruppenauswahl (Universität Lausanne)Scheduler (Universität of York), Open Cast (Universität Münster), evaluieren aber sehr genau, ob wir das Risiko des oben genannten Problems möglich klein halten können.

Fragen oder Kommentare? Wir freuen uns, mit Ihnen hier über darüber zu diskutieren!

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New design for Moodle in January 2019

On January 8, 2019, the ETH Moodle system will be updated to a newer version as well as receive a fresh new look. It aligns more strongly with the ETH corporate design and offers a modernized framework that better supports current browsers and devices.

Moodle is the Learning Management System (LMS) of ETH. The open source online learning platform supports the development, distribution and administration of webbased learning environments thereby promoting interactive learning.

The most important improvements in a nutshell

Once the Moodle webpage is opened, all users will find themselves on the newly designed login page.


After logging in via AAI all users will land on the page called Site Home. Here people are presented with relevant information that is updated from time to time. Examples of such information are improvements to Moodle, important update or maintenance announcements, and links to various LET-Blog entries.


One click on the new «navigation icon» in the top left corner (framed in red) opens and closes the navigation at any point and any location in Moodle. This will help save space, especially on small screens.


On the Dashboard both students and teachers will see all the courses in which they are currently enrolled. Course teachers are able (and encouraged) to set a picture of choice which is then displayed on the dashboard. Courses without their own unique picture will display the default picture, which currently is the ETH main building. The Dashboard is also where urgent messages (such as maintenance announcements) for all users may be displayed.


Inside courses, people with the role of «teacher» will see a cogwheel icon in the top right corner, just under their own names. Selecting this cogwheel will open all the editing and settings functions for the course, including “turn editing on”. In the navigation on the left, teachers can see their list of enrolled course participants under the newly renamed “participants” instead.


An final important note: The Exam Moodle will likely be updated to the new design in April 2019.

Find out more about Moodle at ETH.


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