Question formats: Microsoft Word File Import/Export (Question Format)

qformat_wordtable
Maintained by Picture of Eoin CampbellEoin Campbell
Export questions (including images) in a question bank into a Word file, and also import questions from structured tables in a Word (.docx format) file.
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Current versions available: 3

Moodle2Word is a plugin that allows quiz questions to be exported from Moodle into a Word file. The Word file can then be used to quickly review large numbers of questions (either online or in print), or to prepare paper tests (where the answers and feedback are hidden).

Moodle2Word also supports importing questions from structured tables in Word directly into the Moodle question bank. The tables support all the question components (stem, answer options, option-specific and general feedback, hints, tags and question meta-data such as penalties grades and other options), as well as embedded images. All the main question types except Numerical and Calculated questions are fully supported. Numerical and Calculated questions are exported, but cannot be imported.

Some OU question types added to core in Moodle 3.0 are also supported: Drag and drop onto image, Drag and drop markers, Drag and drop into text and Select missing words. All-or-Nothing Multiple Choice is also supported. These additional question types all require that custom versions of the questions be installed to replace the defaults, however.

The Cloze question syntax is particularly useful, as it does not require any knowledge of the arcane Moodle syntax; instead, use bold for drop-down menu items, and italic for fill-in text fields. See attached screenshot for an example.

Language support

Exported questions are labelled in the language of the current Moodle user interface, and the spell-check language is also set to the correct language. Similarly, questions can be imported in the same language, not just English. Both left-to-right and right-to-left languages (such as Arabic and Hebrew) are supported.

Equation support (import only)

Equations written using the Microsoft Equation Editor in Word can be imported into Moodle as MathML. This MathML can then be rendered within Moodle using the MathJax plugin, if you are running Moodle 2.7 or later. It is probably possible to configure MathJax on earlier versions of Moodle to support MathML rendering, but I don't know how to do this.

Note that as of version 3.4.3, MathML equations in questions are not exported in a usable way.

Supporting Word templates

Word templates to go with the plugin can be downloaded from the demonstration website www.Moodle2Word.net, and are available for Word 2007 and 2010 (Windows), and Word 2011 (MacOSX). The Windows templates also support a simple question preview facility, and a facility to upload questions from within Word.

If questions contain images, then you must install the Word template in order to be able to convert the images in exported questions into embedded images in Word, as they are not automatically visible.

Installation

The plugin can be installed by a Moodle Administrator using the standard Moodle plugin installation process.

Pre-requisites

  • Check that your Moodle installation supports XSLT, and ideally HTMLTidy too. Log in as Administrator, go to Site Administration -> Server -> PHP info, and view the PHP configuration. Look for the package details for 'xsl'. If they are not present, then you will need to re-configure PHP and re-start the server.
  • To enable XSLT and HTMLTidy on a Windows Moodle server, open your PHP configuration file (e.g. d:\winmoodle2\server\php\php.ini on Windows) and uncomment the lines containing "extension=php_xsl.dll". and "extension=php_tidy.dll" by removing the semi-colon before them, if present.
  • On Linux platforms, you may need to create a symbolic link from the file , /etc/php5/apache2/mods-available/xsl.ini to , or /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/20-xsl.ini. Change directory to /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/, and use the command 'sudo ln -s ../../mods-available/xsl.ini 20-xsl.ini'. Alternatively, create a file /etc/php5/apache2/conf.d/xsl.ini containing the line
    extension=xsl.so
      

Configuration instructions

  1. Go to any course question bank that contains at least 1 question, and choose the Export option.
  2. The File format list should contain the new option 'Microsoft Word table format'. Select this item, and choose any question category containing some questions.
  3. You will be prompted to save or open a Word file. Save it. By default it should have a .doc suffix. If no suffix is provided, you must add it in yourself to ensure Word recognises the file format.
  4. If you see the error message "You need the XSLT library installed in PHP to save this Word file" (xsltunavailable in non-English installations), then your Moodle installation is not configured to support exporting to Word format, and you will need to update it. See this forum thread.
  5. To import questions from a Word file, open the file you just exported, and save it to Word 2010 (.docx) format. Then go to the Question Import form, and you should see a new item in the File format list, 'Microsoft Word table format'. Select this item, choose the Word file you saved, and import it.
  6. If all goes well, your questions in the file should be imported into your course. If not, send me an email at help@moodle2word.net and I will try to help you out. 

Limitations

  • When exported questions contain images, they are initially stored in the Word file as tabular data. After opening the Word file, you must run a custom Word macro to convert them back into images in the correct locations. You need to install a Word template on your PC to access this macro.
  • The number of questions you can import in a single Word file is limited by the amount of memory allocated for processes on your Moodle server. You will need to experiment to find this limit on your own site.

Using a Word template to create and edit questions

To edit existing questions using Word, first export them into Word. If they contain images, or if you want to create new questions, you should install a custom Word template on your PC to assist you. You can download this template from the test website www.Moodle2Word.net. This template contains commands to create new questions, import questions into Moodle, format questions for printed tests, and convert images in exported questions.

Sets

This plugin is part of set Microsoft Word file import/export.

Screenshots

Screenshot #0

Contributors

Picture of Eoin Campbell
Eoin Campbell (Lead maintainer)
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Comments

  • Picture of Максим Білецький
    Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 5:31 PM
    Hi! Im running moodle 3.6.1 with worttable 3.5.23, and it does not seem to work any more - I get this error:
    "Sorry, the requested file could not be found", when I try to download the export file.
    Any other export format such as GIFT, Moodle XML, XHTML working correctly. And export-plugin Microsoft Word File Import/Export (Book) working correctly too.
  • Picture of Максим Білецький
    Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 9:30 PM
    UPD: The error disappears if the interface is switched from the national language to English.
    What could be the problem?
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 3:34 AM
    I think the following is happening. When Moodle is exporting questions into Word format, it includes some help text at the bottom of each question, usually pulled from the plugin summary description. This text must be well-formed XML. Typically, the standard question translations are well-formed. However, these standard translations can be overridden with custom text on a particular Moodle installation, and it is possible that the custom text is not well-formed XML. This causes the export operation to fail in that language, while working fine in a language where no custom translation has been done.
    I suggest you check for custom Russian translations at Site administration > Language > Language customisation. Things to watch out for are the use of named character entities such as   (use numeric entities instead, e.g.  ) and empty elements
    (use
    instead).
  • Picture of Cameron Hallowell
    Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 11:11 AM
    Has anyone used this with Microsoft 360 and SharePoint?
  • Picture of Szabó Bálint
    Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 5:30 PM
    Hi Eoin,
    I want to create Hungarian language template. Is there any documentation to create template in a specific language?

    Thanks:
    Bálint
  • Picture of Tariq Sadeck
    Fri, Apr 26, 2019, 9:12 PM
    Hi Eoin,

    Is there any way of adding a question "ID number" field to the plugin? So that one can import questions and assign an ID number as you do with the other question details.

    Kind Regards
    Tariq
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Fri, Apr 26, 2019, 9:35 PM
    No there isn't. The question ID number is assigned sequentially by the MySQL database when a new question is created. It would be nice to set an ID number so that questions could be overwritten, but that isn't possible. The same issue arises regardless of which import format you use - you cannot overwrite existing questions. The only alternative is that you can set an identifier in the question Name field (using the Word Heading 2 style), but this is not going to be unique.
  • Picture of Tariq Sadeck
    Mon, Apr 29, 2019, 4:58 PM
    Hi Eoin

    Thanks. I should've been more specific but I'm not talking about the MySQL "id" column.

    I'm talking about the "idnumber" MySQL column/fields in this pic: https://ibb.co/rM70jG2

    The "idnumber" field is part of the new features in Moodle 3.6 which will allow us to now have unique ID numbers for the questions and categories: https://ibb.co/xqrfP9T

    Regards
    Tariq

  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Mon, Apr 29, 2019, 5:21 PM
    News to me, as I’m still on 3.5. I’ll take a look
  • Picture of Tariq Sadeck
    Mon, Apr 29, 2019, 5:26 PM
    Thanks Eoin. Yeah thought as much when I realized its a new feature. Hope to hear from you soon if this is a possibility in future.
  • Picture of James Mackay
    Thu, May 30, 2019, 2:22 PM
    Hi Eoin,

    We had an issue come up recently when trying to import a document with questions. We imported some questions, but it just stopped at one and gave the error "error writing to database"

    All our other imports have worked fine, but this document in particular seemed to cause us grief. We inspected the questions surrounding the error, but we couldn't find any reason for the ambiguous error occurring.

    Any ideas why this would happen?

    Cheers
    James
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Sat, Jun 1, 2019, 6:59 AM
    I believe the most likely reason is that there is a character in the Word file which is not a Unicode character and therefore isn't converted into UTF8 format, so when Moodle tries to write it to the underlying database, the database rejects it because the fields are configured to accept only UTF-8 encoded characters. This seems to happen with some ranges of mathematical characters in Word. Your image indicates that the questions are maths-oriented. You could use the Microsoft Office Equation Editor, as these equations are converted into MathML in Moodle, which can be displayed well in a browser if you configure the MathJax filter correctly.
    Go to Site administration > Plugins > Filters > MathJax, and the Additional equation delimiters field should contain "<math" to get the filter to recognise the equations.
  • Picture of James Mackay
    Tue, Jun 4, 2019, 8:00 AM
    Good to know - many thanks for your assistance with this Eoin. We will keep it in mind for next time we encounter that issue!
  • Picture of Lai Wei
    Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 5:09 PM
    I'm trying to export questions in this format and import it again somewhere else, and I got this error "The type of the file you selected (application/msword) does not match the type expected by this import format (application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document)." Looks like a bug to me. I'm on Moodle 3.6. Please take a look.
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 11:15 PM
    The plugin exports files into a .doc file, but only imports files in .docx format. Silly but necessary. So after exporting questions to a Word file, you must then open it in Word and save it as a .docx file instead. Then you can import it to another server. However, if you just want to exchange questions between Moodle server, I strongly recommend that you export to Moodle Question XML format instead, as this is a more complete interchange format. For example, it supports Calculated and Numerical questions, which the Word plugin doesn't do.
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