Activities: ipal

Maintained by Picture of Bill JunkinBill Junkin
This Moodle module (/mod/ipal/) allows Moodle to support in-class polling/"clickers"/"Peer Instruction"/concept quizzes/anonymous surveys/etc. Students can respond using any web-enabled device or the free IPAL App we have written for both the Android and iOS smartphones. Teachers can create questions, use questions from the standard question bank, or import ConcepTest provided by Harvard Physics Professor Mazur.
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     The IPAL module provides a free, open-source solution that allows students to use a mixture of web-enabled devices (laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc.) to respond to in-class polling through a Moodle module.  Research shows that the greater student involvement obtained through polling increases student learning and provides immediate feed-back to instructors, allowing for better response to student needs. Using a browser on these devices each student can see the question posed by the professor and respond with an answer. We have also created the IPAL App for both the Android platform and for the iPhone platform, greatly facilitating the student login and response. 

     The teacher creates one or more ipal activities in one or more Moodle courses. Each ipal instance can be created with its own settings for anonymous or non-anonymous (the default) polling, for polling with or without (the default) using the IPAL App on smart phones, etc. (With anonymous polling the teacher cannot tell which response came from which student.) 

     Teachers use the IPAL module to create the questions they want to use for the polling. The creation of questions is identical to the creation of questions for a Moodle quiz. Any question created for IPAL can be used in a Moodle quiz and vise versa. Our module also provides ready-to-use peer-reviewed questions for the introductory physics course. The initial set of questions includes hundreds of questions from the ConcepTest questions authored by Physics Professor Eric Mazur and his group from Harvard University. These questions are housed at ComPADRE, a National Physics and Astronomy Digital Library ( The database will allow others to add questions for other courses/disciplines to this database of questions.

      When the teacher is in class, the teacher goes to the desired ipal instance and, at appropriate times, sends out a question. Currently only multichoice, true-false, and essay questions are supported. As the students respond to the question, the teacher sees a display of the responses in real time. If the question is multichoice or true-false, the display is a histogram; if it is an essay question, the response from each student is displayed on a separate line on the GUI. Students may respond to the same question more than once and the display gives their latest answer. At any time the teacher can "stop polling" and no more responses are recorded until the teacher sends another question (which can be a different question or the same question sent again). Each time a question is sent the GUI starts with a fresh, clean display. The responses are displayed anonymously and the teacher can show or not show (as desired) the responses to the students if the teacher's computer is connected to a data projector. The teacher can also see a spreadsheet of the students' answers, identified by student name (unless the anonymous setting for that ipal instance has been enabled). This spreadsheet can be copied and then pasted into an external spreadsheet, such as Excel, if desired. The current version does not put any entry into the Moodle gradebook. Thanks to help from the Moodule group at the University of Jerusalem, this version provides an easy way to take attendance using ipal and the Moodle attendance module.

     In-class polling is used in many disciplines, often with clickers or flashcards. IPAL provides a Moodle module to support this. Currently polling is most widely used in physics classes. IPAL provides an interface that allows teachers to easily obtain ready-to-use peer-reviewed questions for the introductory physics course. The initial set of questions includes hundreds of questions from the ConcepTest questions authored by Physics Professor Eric Mazur and his group from Harvard University. These questions are housed at ComPADRE, a National Physics and Astronomy Digital Library ( The database will allow others to add questions for other courses/disciplines to this database of questions. 


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Picture of Bill Junkin
Bill Junkin (Lead maintainer)
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  • Picture of Melanie Scott
    Wed, Feb 21, 2018, 10:38 PM
    I'm also having some trouble--It seems to be having trouble connecting to the server on login. I thought maybe it was because the site was internal (test server) and I installed on an outwardfacing installation...same problem. I'm also not finding much in the way of coherent instructions for iPhone and Android Users.
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 1:38 AM
    Hi, Melanie Scott,
    You are welcome to contact me directly, I'm sorry you are having a problem. I may be able to help if you send me some of the details about your problem. Also, I have been working on a newer version of the Android IPAL App and I can see if that newer version takes care of the problems that you are having. (The newer version has not bee published yet.) HOWEVER, most of my recent effort has been to create code that will add the in-class polling functionality to the quiz module. Thus, teachers can use a quiz in the regular mode (where students answer questions in order) or can use the quiz in the in-class polling mode, where the teacher determines which question is being answered and receives a live, interactive dsiplay of student responses as they answer the questions. This new code seems to run very well but I have not yet made it work with the Moile Moodle App. that is my next project. I'll try to get this deveoped as quickly as I can. If you are willing to be involved in testing this out, please let me know. Again, thanks for your interest.
  • Picture of Andrew Earley
    Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 5:08 PM
    I am very interested in your plugin and is working very well when on Moodle itself.
    However it seems that when attempting to use your app this does not accept our Moodle site.

    I always receive "Invalid URL". Is there anything that must be done so that our site can be found?
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Sat, Oct 27, 2018, 8:49 AM
    Hi, Andrew,
    Thank you for your interest in the IPAL module. I'm glad that it works well for you when students are using a browser.
    We have noticed the problem that you have mentioned that occurs on some Moodle sites when students are using the IPAL App on their phones. We have developed a new version of the App for the Android phone that, in our testing, does a beautiful job at taking care of this problem. (The new version of the App, the student screen also changes when the teacher changes the question or stops polling and it also handles correctly the multichoice questions that have more than one option -- checkbox type of questions.) We plan to publish this new version on the Google Play Store site within the next 6 days. I hope that most of your students are using Android phones, since we have not yet developed this new version for the iPhone.
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 1:23 AM
    Hi, Andrew,
    The new version of the IPAL app for Android devices has been published. Please let me know if you find that there are problems with this App.
    Also, I have just created a new Moodle module that will work with all quizzes (no need to create an IPAL instance). It does not send specific questions to students but it does allow teacheres to obtain a dynamic view of student responses. You may want to look at it. It is called "Live View."
    Students can respond to questions using the Moodle app or their browser. If you have suggestions they are always welcome.
  • Picture of Andrew Earley
    Mon, Mar 25, 2019, 10:40 PM
    Hi Bill,
    Sadly a large number of our students are using Apple devices. I was wondering whether there is any information about the app for the iPhone?
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Tue, Mar 26, 2019, 1:37 AM
    Hi, Andrew, Sorry the students are having a problem with the IPAL app for the iPhone. Can you be specific about the problem that they are having using the App?
  • Picture of Andrew Earley
    Tue, Mar 26, 2019, 5:26 PM
    Hi Bill,
    When attempting to sign into our moodle site via the IPAL app the login fails with "Login failed, please check your username and password". However all fields have correct information.
  • Picture of Joel MacDonald
    Fri, Nov 29, 2019, 9:39 PM
    Hello Bill,

    I'm having the same problem as Andrew Earley. I'm testing the ipal mobile app option on my iPhone and am getting the same login failed message. Is there a fix?
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Sat, Nov 30, 2019, 11:33 AM
    Hi, Joel,
    I'm sorry your students are having a problem logging in to IPAL via a smart phone using the IPAL app.
    1) Are you using an iPhone or an Android phone? The two platforms required that I write different Apps.
    2) Are you trying to log in using a student account in the course where the IPAL instance is located? The App looks for students but does not look for teachers in a given course.
    If you want to contact me directly, please feel free to write me at
    Bill Junkin
  • Picture of Chris MP
    Thu, May 7, 2020, 12:06 AM
    Hi Bill
    I've been testing this plugin. Really appreciate your work, two questions has come to my mind.
    1. Is there any chance to get the graph displayed on standalone_graph.php to show as a 'Full Screen' thing?, as for example for viewing a YoutTube video or similar. Maybe a bottom to facilitate this would be beautiful in order to show it to the audience.
    2. As another option, is there a chance to add a weight for a student?, with integer or float numbers, in order to give a student more 'number of votes' to a certain question?. This is very useful from groups that represent large numbers of students, so the results of a poll can show by count and not percentage, any chance?

    Thank you very much!
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Thu, May 7, 2020, 12:32 AM
    Thanks for your interest in IPAL, Chris. Making change #1 is a very simple change in the code and I will make that change as soon as I publish a new version of IPAL. As I am working on this new version, I would like some input from you about request #2. If I understand the request correctly, you have a situation where there are a limited number of computers (or other devices running the we browser) and you have a number of students at a given computer and this numer is different for some of the computers. So you would like the teacher to be able to specify that teh user associated with Group A have a weight of 3 (since 3 people are in that group) and that Group B have a wieght of 5 (since there are 5 people in that group) and that this specification would need to be done by the teacher by hand and there is no way that this can be done automatically. It may be best if you communicate with me directly about this so that we can see what can be done and also make sure that the changes provide what you want. My direct email address is Bill Junkin
  • Picture of Dinis Medeiros
    Fri, May 8, 2020, 5:27 AM
    Waiting for the update. Thanks for the plugin. I appreciate your work
  • Picture of Gustavo Demarco
    Sun, May 10, 2020, 1:58 PM
    Hi Bill,
    I recently installed the plugin in moodle 3.8+. When I add an ipal activity and then try to edit to add questions I get the following error: "update_module_button() can not be used anymore. Activity modules should not add the edit module button, the link is already available in the Administration block. Themes can choose to display the link in the buttons row consistently for all module types.". Should the plugin work with moodle 3.8+?
    Thanks in advance
  • Picture of Bill Junkin
    Mon, May 11, 2020, 7:23 PM
    Hi, Gustavo, Thanks for your interest in IPAL. I am unable to duplicate your error on my Moodle site. I have installed Moodle 3.8.3 from Moodle and then installed IPAL version Release 2.2.5 (Build: 2019030500). I have then created a new instance of IPAL in a course, made sure all debug messages would be shown, and clicked on the button to att a question to the IPAL instance. I did not receive an error message. So, I want to solve the problem that you are having, but it probably will be better if we communicate directly until the prolem is solved. My email address is And to answer your question, yes, IPAL should work with Moodle 3.8+. I will update the settings at the Moodle site soon to indicate this.
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