Hot Question

Activities ::: mod_hotquestion
Maintained by AL Rachels
This plugin will help teachers to collect entries/posts from users in or out of a classroom.
Latest release:
861 sites
55 fans
Current versions available: 2

The first Moodle activity for a physical classroom. The idea comes from Purdue University's hotseat.

Some possible uses:

  • Users can make posts in "real" time during a face-to-face class/lecture/meeting.
  • Users can make posts 24/7 in a Hot Question activity.
  • Can be used as a "Suggestion Box" with labels changed to reflect the activity is for suggestions.
  • Can  be used for user analysis of any kind of data placed in the description.
  • Can  be used for user analysis of a video placed in the description.
  • Can be used for quick polls.
  • Can be used for classroom auctions.

Inside or outside a classroom, users can post into this activity from any device which can access the Moodle site. Users can also apply Heat, (vote) on other users posts, so that the hottest post will be popped up to the top of the list. Teachers can set a priority, either positive or negative, on selected posts, which overrides the Heat. Teachers can also control visibility of user entries, with an approval setting for each individual entry.


General capabilities:

  • Everyone can set a preference for view/hide unapproved questions.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can allow questions to still be seen and commented on, after a Hot Question activity is closed.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can show or hide author names from students, but still see all author names, themselves.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can show or hide Priority or Heat columns depending on need.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can change the words used for the column labels.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can delete individual questions.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can hide individual questions.
  • Teacher or manager can download questions from the classroom Hot Question activity.
  • Site admin can download questions from Hot Question activity for the whole site.
  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can delete any round they are currently viewing including any questions and votes in the round.
  • When anyone clicks on the Hot Question link in an Activities block, depending on the group settings they see a list of all Hot Question activities in the course along with how many unique users, and how many unique questions were posted the current round.


Recently added capabilities:
  • Multiple bugs fixed in v4.1.9.
  • Bug fix in to fix error when deleting data for a user.
  • New in 4.1.8 Many of the missing capabilities for the non-editing teacher, have finally been added.
  • New in 4.1.7 Everyone can set a preference for view/hide unapproved questions to help cut down on the "scroll of death," when there are a lot of questions, with many not approved for viewing.
  • NEW in 4.16 Bug fix only.
  • NEW in 4.1.5 Added capability to view questions after the Hot Question activity closes.
  • NEW in 4.1.5 If set, open and close times are shown on the view page.
  • NEW in 4.1.4 Added a missing string and fixed a bug for, Mark as done.
  • NEW in 4.1.3 Unapproved entries are automatically sorted to the bottom of the list of entries.
  • NEW in 4.1.3 Unapproved entries can be toggled ON/OFF (hidden) from the list of entries.
  • NEW in Changed the Export to .csv file to make it easier to read, especially for admin.
  • NEW in Added comments to Export to .csv file.
  • NEW in 4.1.1+! Students can see and make comments only in the current round while teachers can do so in any round.
  • NEW in 4.1.1+! When a user clicks the button, View grades, for a Hot Question activity using a grade scale, the Final grade column wiill show both the possible point value and the Scales maximum grade possible.
  • NEW in 4.1.1! Depending upon settings, can be set up like old versions.
  • NEW in 4.1.1! Depending upon settings, can require a number of question or heat/votes for completion.
  • NEW in 4.1.1! Depending upon settings, can require a passing grade for completion, using Points or a Scale for grading.
  • NEW in 4.0.2! Depending upon settings, Comments, can be posted to each entry.
  • Teachers, managers, and admin can always make comments, but students only when they are enabled.
  • NEW in 4.0.1! The question prompt and column headings are now routed through format_text so filters work on them.
  • Depending upon a user's preference, a limited set of the editor toolbuttons will be available to format the text of a question/entry.
  • Round number display, in the form of, X of N, between round navigation icons.
  • Hide author names from students, but teachers still see them.
  • Heat/Vote limit setting.
  • Remove my vote, capability.
  • Auto hide Heat/vote column when set to zero.
  • New column labels are used in teacher csv download.
  • Admin download uses the default labels due to downloading ALL questions from a site.
  • Column labels are now settings which allows teachers to change each to fit the current activity use.
  • If a Hot Question is hidden in the Activities list, the Hot Question name will now show with a slashed eye.
  • Setting to show or hide the Priority column
  • Setting to show or hide the Heat column
  • Groups
  • Grouping
  • Group members only
  • Confirm delete entry
  • Confirm delete round
  • Changed Delete round icon
  • Open and Close dates now show in the Calendar
  • Modified the ordering of the fields in the CSV Question downloads, to make reading the results in a spreadsheet easier, by placing Content last. This helps with readability as that column is usually very wide.
  • Added the Teacher priority and Heat (votes) to the CSV Question downloads.
  • Made the SQL for the CSV cross DB compatible so it now works for PostgreSQL database users.
  • Implemented width and height styles to the thumbsup and thumbdown icons used for teacher priority and heatas with Moodle 3.6 they switch from gif to svg and with the styles setting, they are huge.
  • Provided a separate language string for the "Post" button so Hot Question is not sharing a core string. The new string now shows as, "Click to post." Makes it possible to customize the button label, without affecting a Moodle core language string.
  • Modified the Behat tests to account for the new language string used on the Click to post, button. Also fixed a few other Behat steps that worked in previous Moodle versions, but not in Moodle 3.6. Tests now work as expected.
  • Fixed a problem where the initial Teacher priority of zero would not be shown, and you would have to manually make it go positive, before you could go to negative number. It depended on the various combinations of Moodle, PHP, and database in use, but now works reliably in all versions of Moodle.
  • Added code for GDPR compliance.
  • Added a setting that allows the teacher to set a priority rating for each question.
  • Added an approval setting for each question so the teacher can hide inappropriate questions.
  • Added groups capability.
  • Added 12 Behat tests.
  • Added setting for, "Display description on course page."
  • Added settings for open and close Availability dates.
  • Added setting to allow changing, "Submit your question here" to whatever the teacher wants when creating a Hot Question activity.
  • Included an optional icon for this activity, that is more "activity purpose" neutral than the light bulb.


Link to the old forum discussion


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AL Rachels (Lead maintainer)
Zhigang Sun: Original author
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  • AL Rachels
    Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 11:25 PM
    It has been very hectic here for the past few days, but I have just posted Hot Question 3.9.0+ (Build: 2020060603) that implements Heat/Vote limits, plus the capability to, Remove my vote, from a question.

    If the heat limit is set to zero, the Heat column is automatically hidden from view. Currently the maximum can be set to 10.

    An indicator is added under the column label shown as Max/Remaining. e.g. If the limit is set to 3 and I have voted once, it will show as, 3/2. If a user removes a vote from a question, their Remaining votes goes back up by one. If the teacher starts a new round, their Remaining votes automatically goes back up to Max.
  • Sreejith M
    Mon, Jul 27, 2020, 12:15 PM
    Hello community, is it possible to answer questions by replying to the question posted by students ?
  • AL Rachels
    Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 7:00 AM
    Hi Sreejith,
    No, not really. It would be more appropriate to use a forum for that. However, you can sort of do it by using the teacher ranking to make the teachers question come right after the students question.
  • Thilo Petry
    Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 8:32 PM
    Hello everybody,
    Maybe someone can help me.
    We are currently converting Moodle to 3.9.1 (Build 20200717) and have the problem that the two columns "Head" and "Priority" are suddenly missing. We are using the latest version 3.9.0+ (Build: 2020060603). At 3.8 everything worked as expected. Does anyone know the problem or has any tips?
  • AL Rachels
    Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 11:20 PM
    Hi Thilo,
    Sorry you are having problems. There is not a column named "Head" unless you changed one from it's default name to Head. Maybe you mean, "Heat?" Go and edit the Hot Question activity and look at the settings for, Heat and Priority. It is possible that their visibility setting has been set to, No, which would make them disappear.
  • AL Rachels
    Mon, Apr 11, 2022, 3:21 AM
    I just posted a new version of Hot Question that depending upon the settings, allows users to comment on entries. Right now, comments can be made in any round, but I think I will see about making it possible to make comments on the current round only. This version also implements completion using core code that came into use with Moodle 3.11 which is why this version is only for it and the upcoming Moodle 4.0. I will see about working up a release for earlier Moodle's if there is any interest.
  • AL Rachels
    Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 2:42 AM
    Sorry to take so long for this, but "life" events have slowed me down over the past few months, Any way, the latest Hot Question v4.1.0 includes grade, passing grade, and completion capabilities. Over the next few days days I will try my best to work on updating the documentation for the new capabilities.
  • Dr. Nellie Deutsch
    Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 4:45 AM
    I got a page full of errors when I tried the upgrade just now;

    Upgrading to new version
    DDL sql execution error

    More information about this error

    ×Debug info: Unknown column 'assesstimefinish' in 'mdl_hotquestion'
    ALTER TABLE mdl_hotquestion ADD assesstimestart BIGINT(10) NOT NULL DEFAULT 0 AFTER assesstimefinish
    Error code: ddlexecuteerror
    ×Stack trace:
    line 492 of /lib/dml/moodle_database.php: ddl_change_structure_exception thrown
    line 1098 of /lib/dml/mysqli_native_moodle_database.php: call to moodle_database->query_end()
    line 77 of /lib/ddl/database_manager.php: call to mysqli_native_moodle_database->change_database_structure()
    line 547 of /lib/ddl/database_manager.php: call to database_manager->execute_sql_arr()
    line 352 of /mod/hotquestion/db/upgrade.php: call to database_manager->add_field()
    line 883 of /lib/upgradelib.php: call to xmldb_hotquestion_upgrade()
    line 582 of /lib/upgradelib.php: call to upgrade_plugins_modules()
    line 1935 of /lib/upgradelib.php: call to upgrade_plugins()
    line 719 of /admin/index.php: call to upgrade_noncore()
  • AL Rachels
    Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 10:31 PM
    Could you please tell me what version of Hot Question you were upgrading from and what Moodle version, so I can try to replicate the error.
  • AL Rachels
    Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 11:32 PM
    It appears that one of my pushes to git hub, had an error. As a temporary fix for the v4.1.0 version , edit it's upgrade.php file in the hotquestion/db folder. In line 348, where it has, 'assesstimefinish', change it to, 'assessed', and the upgrade should proceed without any further errors or problems.

    I will try to put out a fixed version later today.
  • Dr. Nellie Deutsch
    Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 11:43 PM
    I'm very sorry for leaving out the information, Al. I am using Moodle version 4.01. I got notified of the new upgrade by the system, so I just clicked on it. I had 4.0.2 (Build: 2022041000) 2022041000, but got an error with 4.1.0

    There is a new version 2022070700 available!
    Release 4.1.0 (Build: 2022070700) Stable version Download More info...
    Install this update
  • Dr. Nellie Deutsch
    Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 11:53 PM
    It was line 316. I fixed it. Thank you.
  • AL Rachels
    Sun, Jul 10, 2022, 1:39 AM
    Actually, line 316, is from a previous version. Anyway, now I REALLY need to try and update the documentation as the new grade and completion capabilities, might need explanations for some users.

    Anyway, I just added a new release, Hot Question v4.1.1 with the fix added to it.
  • Jacques Monnard
    Mon, Jul 11, 2022, 8:50 PM
    Hi Al,
    I have a suggestion for your (great) plugin : would it be possible to set the default grade for new hot questions activities to none ? Currently, a "point" grade is set automatically on creation. And as soon as a question has been posted in the activity, grades are created, which makes it impossible to reset the grading to "none" subsequently. I think many teachers won't use grading in this activity. If they don't pay attention, they will have a "View grades" button in their activity, which they can't get rid of.
  • AL Rachels
    Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 12:32 AM
    Hi Jacques,
    Thanks for your interest in Hot Question. Actually, the "Point" setting seems to be standard in Moodle, unless you go and add a whole lot more of complicated (to me) code. I actually was going that route but due to time constraints and my work load, I switched to this simpler version just to get grading out there.

    I can't promise anything soon, but I will put this back into my TODO rotation of things to work on.

    I would make a suggestion to make a template activity for each grade type, (hidden and not in the grade book), and then duplicate when you want to create a new Hot Question activity. In fact, due to creating and deleting Hot Question activities so often during development, that is what I do. Before I retired, I had a whole hidden course with nothing but templates of all the various activities I used, and I then used the Sharing Cart in active courses to place a copy of an activity into the course for actual use.
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