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
Please login to view contributors details and/or to contact them

Comments RSS


  • Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 2:00 AM
    I have just recently taken over the job of maintaining the Hot Question add-on. My priority at the moment, is to get it updated so that it works with all the newer versions of Moodle. Be sure and let me know if you have any problems with the new versions I've released. I hope to have more available for Moodle 2.9 and 3.0, soon.
  • Matt Bury
    Sat, Mar 26, 2016, 1:47 AM
    Installed on localhost Moodle 2.9 with error reporting in developer mode. No error messages reported and plugin works well, so far. Thanks Al! smile
  • Sun, Mar 27, 2016, 4:18 AM
    Hi Matt and others,
    Thanks for trying the updated Hot Question add-on. I have added a 3.1 BETA version at the github source that adds some long awaited capability. I hope to have it completely ready for a STABLE release in a couple of days. I have added the capability to remove a question and it's votes. This is working quite well and does trigger an event for logging. The delete button shows up only for teachers and managers and doesn't show up for students. I also am working on adding the capability to export questions in a csv file. This is about half done. It exports the file, just doesn't have the questions in it yet. I'm also considering adding negative voting. Anyone interested in that?
  • Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 4:59 PM
    This doesn't work on my moodle2.92. I try both 2016032500 and 2016032400, it just doesn't work. I can install and add the activity, but student can open it and it keeps return access denied. As a admin, I can see any way to delete question, so , I what I could only do is to add questions and vote, but nothing is managable.
  • Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 10:44 PM
    Hi Frankle Lee, Hot Question has never had any question management capability, which for me was always a problem since someone always thought it was fun to add inappropriate questions. Because of that, I have been working on adding question Remove and question Export capability and hope to release a stable version later today. I got Remove to work 2 days ago and got Export to work last night. I have to do a little clean up of remarks, code tweaks for the export filename, and test to make sure nothing else got broken and hope to post a new 3.0.1 release this afternoon, my time.
  • Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 7:02 AM
    I have a new Hot Question 3.0.1 Beta version available at the source control URL that is ready for anyone who would like to try it out. I need a little more time for testing to make sure it is ready for release as a stable version. It provides some new capability - Teachers and managers can download a .csv file of the questions from the current Hot Question activity, and a site admin can download ALL questions from ALL Hot Question activities in the Moodle site. Admins, teachers, and managers can also remove any question from any round of the Hot Question activity they are viewing. Any votes the question might have, will be removed at the same time. You should download before removing questions, if you think you might need them for any reason, as once removed, they cannot be recovered.
  • Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 12:57 AM
    Just posted new pictures with comments of the new release.
  • Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 1:40 AM
    I tried the latest version from github and it works fine on my 2.92.
    I have some suggestions. Now I can remove questions, but not the rounds. Strongly suggest that admin can remove useless rounds.
    BTW, I try to change the download csv filename from the language customization and just found that it didn't work at all. The filename poped up when I clicked the download icon, the filename is not what I expected, however it is not a big issue.
  • Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 2:11 AM
    Glad to hear it now works for your 2.9.2 Moodle. I've also been thinking about adding the capability of removing rounds and added an issue about it in github. As for the csv filename, currently, it is automatically generated so that if you get in a hurry, a new download will never overwrite any previous download. For teachers and managers, it automatically uses the course shortname, the Hot Question activity name and date and time of the download. It is slightly different for the admin since they get all the questions for the whole Moodle site. For the part that is constant, I added an issue at github and will see about changing it in the next release to a language string, so it can be customized.
  • Sun, Apr 3, 2016, 2:36 AM
    Just released 3.0.2 version with new capability to remove any round. If the round is empty, it just gets deleted from the database. If it has any questions and votes, it deletes them first, then deletes the round.

    I also changed the csv download filename a bit so that you can use language customization for all but the date and time. I left that unchanged so that if you get in a rush, you will not accidentally wipe out an old file with a new download having the exact same name. Using time as part of the filename, there should never be a duplicate.
  • Sun, Apr 17, 2016, 11:28 PM
    Just released 3.0.3 version with new capability to show how many unique users contributed how many unique submissions to the current round of each Hot Question activity in a course. This info is accessed by clicking the Hot Question link listed in an Activities block of a course, if you have added the block.

    In the previous release, if you deleted the current round, you needed to manually open a new round or you might accidentally try to add a question(s) that would get lost without any warning or indication of a problem. I have added code that automatically checks for this condition and opens a new round, if needed.

    I have made changes as needed to make this new release also work with Moodle 2.8 so that users of that Moodle version can have access to the new capabilities of the current version of Hot Question.
  • Sat, Oct 8, 2016, 1:46 AM
    Released 3.1.1 version yesterday, 10/06/2016, with some new capabilities that make the plugin a little more versatile, and when used for things other than "Questions," it is a little less confusing since a teacher can now change the wording of the text box label, "Submit your question here."
  • Wed, May 10, 2017, 6:48 PM
    Installed version 2.8 on Moodle 2.7.2 and getting a database error:
    Debug info: SQLState: 42000
    Error Code: 8120
    Message: [Microsoft][SQL Server Native Client 11.0][SQL Server]Column 'mdl_hotquestion_questions.hotquestion' is invalid in the select list because it is not contained in either an aggregate function or the GROUP BY clause.
    Running Moodle on Windows Server, IIS with SQL database.

    Has anyone seen this error before? Is it fixed in later versions?
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