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:
688 sites
39 fans
Current versions available: 1

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:

  • 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:
  • NEW in 4.0.0! 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.
  • New Heat/Vote limit setting.
  • New, 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
  • + release is to fix Open Calendar regression
  • 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 affect 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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Comments RSS


  • Wed, May 10, 2017, 10:58 PM
    I think there might be something wrong with your install. You might want to try it again. At the very least, your Moodle is way out of date even for version 2.7 as the latest in that series is Moodle 2.7.20. I just installed HotQuestion version 2.8 on Moodle 2.7.20 and the install went as expected using Centos 6, PHP 5.5.38, and MySQL 5.1.69. The HotQuestion activity also works as it is supposed to for that version. Upgrading to the latest Moodle and the latest HotQuestion would be best as both have many new capabilities. I am sorry, but I do not have a Microsoft server to test on.
  • Wed, May 17, 2017, 4:40 AM
    Sorry to make two releases so close together, but the day after the first release, I discovered that if a teacher or admin removed a post, it was not showing up in the logs. The new 3.2.1 release fixes that and also adds a few missing punctuation marks for the text that gets entered in the logs.
  • Wed, May 17, 2017, 11:20 PM
    Thank you, I'll take a look after we upgrade.
  • Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 2:43 AM
    I am in the process of getting a new HotQuestion version ready for release which includes Behat tests for the first time. It also has rewritten code for the Export to CSV capability. One change was to move the "ID" for each question from column 1 over to column 3. MS Excel thinks any file that has "ID" in the first record is a SYLK file so this change makes download to MS Excel work now. At least it works in my only copy of MS Excel which is from 2002, and also works in LibreOffice Calc, so if anyone out there can try it out on a newer version of Excel and let me know if it works, I would appreciate it.

    I have the new code changes in the master branch at github for anyone who might want to try it out now. I want to do some more testing to see about making this a release for Moodle 3.3 too.
  • Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 7:51 AM
    I am currently adding some new capabilities per user request, and the new 3.3.2 version includes the first of them, Require approval. Teachers have the capability to set a HotQuestion activity to automatically approve all questions, or require approval for each one, before the question can be seen by anyone other than the teacher. Since a question is immediately hidden, even from the user posting the question, a message is shown telling the user the question is currently not approved for viewing. The teachers view actually allows individual question visibility to be toggled so that even when Require approval is off, the teacher can still hide a question, if needed. Merry Christmas.
  • Tue, Jun 5, 2018, 1:49 AM
    Sorry for the back to back releases. Discovered a bug in my GDPR code that lets this plugin work in so many different versions of Moodle. Don't be mislead though, the GDPR works only in latest versions of Moodle 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5.
  • Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 7:01 PM
    I just tried out this plugin on our test server, a couple of points:

    1) csv export does not seem to work - i just get "error reading database"
    2) it seems to me a little dangerous to have a button that deletes the current "round" and everything in it without confirmation
    3) the navigation icons to change "rounds" are very misleading / unintuitive - in our moodle 3.5 boost they are both displayed as "+"
  • Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 11:11 PM
    Hi Stefan, Thanks for your feedback.
    1) I have the latest Hot Question installed on every Moodle from 2.8 to the latest 3.5 and I just retested and see that csv export works on every version. If possible, could you use something like phpMyAdmin and look at the four Hot Question database tables to see if they look okay.
    2) I have an open ticket to add confirmation for deleting a round, but due to health problems and other priorities, have not gotten to it yet.
    3) Hot Question tool bar icons come directly from the Moodle pix folder by name and their look changes depending on the Moodle version and whether there are other rounds. When they changed from left/right triangles to +'s, I looked at what was available and decided to stay with the same four names previously used in the code. The new look seemed okay to me after using it for a day or two.
  • Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 1:48 AM
    Just released a new 3.5.3 version. It contains code for confirmation when deleting an entry or a round. It also include Groups, Grouping, Group members only, and automatic View completion tracking. I have also changed the icon for deleting a round. And, it also will add Hot Question Open and Close dates to the Calendar.
  • Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 1:54 AM
    I should explain better regarding Stefan Weber's comment 3) from above. The Previous and Next round icons appear as black +'s on white surrounding background when there is no Previous or Next round to go to. When there is a Previous or Next round to go to, the icon appears as white +'s on dark surrounding background.
  • Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 2:14 PM
    @Stefan Weber: would change the misleading + icons to left and right pointing carets in themes using font awesome. Please upvote there smile
  • Mon, Jun 24, 2019, 8:35 PM
    Awesome plugin! Will it be possible to upload a document with a "question" someday?
  • Tue, Jun 25, 2019, 2:01 AM
    The text area for adding questions does not support file handling and uploading of documents. Can you give me examples of how and why you would need to do?
  • Mon, May 11, 2020, 1:23 AM
    Had a suggestion from user, b k, who would like to be able to change the table heading, "Questions," to something better suited to the way Hot Question is being used in each instance of the activity. e.g. When used as a suggestion box, "Suggestions" would be a better heading than Questions. My inclination is to also extend this to the other headings, Priority, Heat, Remove, and Approved. While I am working on this, if anyone has any other suggestions for changes or improvements to Hot Question, please let me know.
  • Wed, May 13, 2020, 1:12 AM
    Just pushed the changes to github, that allows admin, manager, or teacher to change the column labels used on the view.php page, to something more closely reflecting what the HQ activity is being used for. Still in "testing" phase as I have to leave for an appointment, but thought I would let "adventuresome" people have a chance to try it before the official release.
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