Question Machine                     Question Machine Help


The Purpose of the Question Machine    

Question Machine was developed to provide a responsive, easy to use, Windows* interface for creating questions for the Moodle* course management system. See . Questions can be developed in Question Machine and saved as a Moodle XML format file. The Questions File can then be imported into a course on a Moodle website.

It is difficult and time consuming to develop good multi-choice questions, but the rewards are there when tests are marked instantaneously and the marks recorded by the Moodle course management system. However using web forms to develop questions just adds to the pain. (No disrespect to Moodle.) With Question Machine, questions can be partially developed and finished off later. It is easy to skip back and forwards though questions. No scrolling to the bottom of the page to save a question and no waiting for the web page to refresh. The most exciting feature is the Cloze (missing word, gapfill) question editor, which takes out the drudgery of writing Cloze question syntax.

In order to create a simple interface, not every feature of each question type is supported. However, it is easy to further edit a question once it has been imported into a Moodle course, using the question editing web pages built in to Moodle.

Installing Question Machine

In the Software box on the Software Machine homepage, click the Question Machine link, then click the Install Question Machine link to install the program. The installation process does not require administrator rights and should work even if your system administrator does not allow you to install other software. It uses the Microsoft* "Click Once Installer" - a Microsoft product.

Creating a Quiz

Type in name of the quiz in the box at the top left-hand corner of the Question Machine window. This will become the Category Name after the quiz questions are imported into Moodle. To create a question, choose the type of question from the buttons on the Tool Bar. The choices are:

                  - a Missing Word Box, which contains the correct answer. Right click to add alternative correct answers. Equivalent to a short answer question.
                  - a Missing Word Dropdown, which contains the correct answer and several incorrect answers. Equivalent to a multi-choice, single answer question.
                  - a Missing Number Box, which contains a numerical answer. Right click to add a tolerance (±) value. Equivalent to a numerical question.

         Each missing word or number is worth one mark.

Click a button on the Tool Bar to create a new question. Type a question in the question box and the answers in the corresponding answer boxes. For Multi-Choice and True/False questions, tick the checkbox beside the correct answer. For a Short Answer Question, type in correct answer in box provided. For a Numerical Question, boxes for tolerance (±) and units (km, m, kg, etc.) are provided but are optional. For Matching questions, type a question in the box provided and matching answer in box below; when activated, the quiz will automatically randomize matching answers. For Cloze questions, type in a text passage in box provided and insert Missing Word/Number Boxes or Dropdowns as needed.

Question editing options:

Question Name - Question names are automatically generated but may be edited.

Default Grade - The grade for each question is one by default, but may be increased.

Show Feedback - When checked, the Question Feedback and feedback for each answer is shown and may be edited. The Default Feedback is applied to new questions.

Show Hints - When checked, hints for the question are shown and may be edited.

Add Answer - Add a multi-choice answer or alternative correct answer.

Remove Last Answer - Delete the last multi-choice answer or alternative answer.

Add Hint - Adds a new hint to the question.

Remove Last Hint - Removes the last hint from the question.

Insert Picture - Add a picture to the current question. A File Open dialogue box will prompt the user to choose an image file. Bitmap, JPEG, GIF and PNG file types are supported. A dialogue box will appear allowing the user to resize the picture. Reducing the size of the picture will also reduce the size of the picture file. Image files are embedded into the Questions File by default and will automatically be linked to the question when the Questions file is imported into a Moodle course. If the option to embed pictures is disabled then image files need to be uploaded separately to the Files area in a Moodle course and may need to be relinked to the question.

File Menu options:

New Quiz - Creates a new Questions File.

Open Quiz - Opens a previously saved Questions File. Moodle XML format files may be exported from a Moodle Course and opened in Question Machine.

Save Quiz - Saves the current quiz in Moodle XML Format, which can then be imported into a Moodle course.

Save Quiz As... - Saves the current quiz into a new file in Moodle XML format.

Page Setup - Opens the page setup dialogue box. This allows page size, orientation (portrait/landscape) and page margins to be set.

Print Preview - Displays the Quiz as it would look when printed. The Page Set Up and Printing Options can also be modified from here.

Print - Opens the Print dialogue box which allows the choice of a printer and number of copies to print. Clicking the Print button prints the quiz. 

Print Teacher Version - Formats the questions for printing, including marked answers and feedback. This option is useful for generating a model answer.

Print Student Version - Formats the questions for providing students with a paper based test. Multi-choice and matching answers are randomised.

Edit Menu options:

Cut - Removes selected text from the current text box and places it on the clipboard.

Copy - Copies selected text from the current text box and places it on the clipboard.

Paste - Copies text from the clipboard and places it into the current text box at the cursor.

Undo - Reverses the last change to text in the current text box.

Redo - Reverses the last Undo action in the current text box.

Questions Menu options:

Multichoice-Single Answer - Creates a new empty multiple choice single answer question.

Multichoice-MultipleAnswer - Creates a new empty multiple choice multiple answer question.

True/False - Creates a new empty true/false question.

Short Answer - Creates a new empty short answer question.

Numerical Answer - Creates a new empty numerical answer question.

Matching - Creates a new empty matching answer question.

Cloze/Gapfill - Creates a new empty cloze/gap fill/missing word question. Remove Question – Permanently deletes the currently displayed question.

Options Menu options:

Embed Pictures - When checked, pictures are embedded into the questions file and will be automatically uploaded and linked to the question when the Questions File is imported into a Moodle course.

Auto Save - When checked, saves the Questions File automatically every five minutes.

Enable Spell Checking - When checked, enables spell checking. Spelling mistakes are underlined. A right mouse click on a misspelled word produces a list of possible corrections. A right mouse click on a correctly spelled word produces a list of synonyms.

Spell Check Language - Shows a dialogue box which allows the user to change the spell checking language.

Default Feedback - Shows a dialogue box which allows the user to change the feedback applied to new questions. Correct question feedback is displayed after a question is marked as correct. Incorrect question feedback is displayed after a question is marked as incorrect.

Printing Options - Shows a dialogue box which allows the user to set the height of pictures included in a question and select the font used for printing. The picture height is a maximum value and the actual size of a printed picture also depends on its width, which will not exceed the page margins.


Importing a Quiz into Moodle

On the Moodle Course Page, click the Questions link in the Administration block on left of the page to open the Edit Questions page. Click the Import tab at the top of the page. In the File Format list, tick Moodle XML Format. Further down, in the Import from File Upload..., click the Browse button to open a quiz previously saved by Question Machine. Click Upload This File to import the quiz. The questions will be automatically allocated to the category that they were created in on Question Machine.


Watch a video showing how to import a quiz into a Moodle course.

*Microsoft Windows and Moodle are registered trade marks.