Microsoft Word File Import/Export (Question Format)

Question formats ::: qformat_wordtable
Maintained by Eoin Campbell
Import questions (including images and equations) from structured tables in a Word file (.docx format) into a course question bank, and also export questions to a Word file, allowing for round-trip editing.
Latest release:
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Current versions available: 5

This plugin allows quiz questions to be imported from a Word file into Moodle. You can quickly write lots of questions in structured Word tables far more easily than in Moodle directly. The plugin also imports tables, images, and equations (when created using the Microsoft Office Equation Editor, not MathType/Wiris or the old Equation 3.0 editor). Equations are converted into MathML on import and displayed using the MathJax filter. You can also export questions from the Moodle question bank into structured tables in Word. 

The table structure for each question supports 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). All the main question types except Numerical and Calculated questions are fully supported. Numerical and Calculated questions are exported, but cannot be imported.

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 is rendered within Moodle using the MathJax filter. Note that 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).

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

  • 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, but should be at least 1,000 questions or more.
  • When you export questions they are saved in an intermediate Word-compatible format in a file with a .doc suffix. You must then save the file to the standard Word format (with a .docx suffix). 

Using a Word template to create and edit questions

To edit existing questions using Word, first export them into Word. 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 by means of inserting a specific structured table for each type.

Sets

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

Screenshots

Screenshot #0

Contributors

Eoin Campbell (Lead maintainer)
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Comments

  • Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 3:30 AM
    The Word file containing questions contains hidden document properties required to support importing, so at a minimum you need to start with the file moodleQuestion.dotx, which you can download from http://www.moodle2word.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=46. The language is one of the properties that the import process must know, since the labels in the Word tables differ per language. An alternative way to get this information is to export some questions from your Moodle server, and use that exported Word file (saved as .docx) as your starting point.
  • Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 3:32 AM
    The macros in the moodleQuizStartup.dotm won't work unless you enable your Word security settings to run digitally signed macros. Use File > Options > Trust Center to set this option.
  • Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 11:38 AM
    Hi Eoin,
    Thanks for the great plugin. I have been using it now and then to export questions from the question bank and it worked fine every time. Today, one of my colleagues mentioned that he was unable to export some of the categories in the question bank. The file comes out empty. When I tried some categories indeed create an empty file and some work fine. Can you provide more info on what the problem might be? Could it be the size of the categories?
  • Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 4:32 PM
    There are 2 likely reasons why questions don't export. One is that the questions are not supported by the plugin, such as Numeric, or Calculated. The second is that there is some badly-formed HTML inside a question, that breaks the export process. This can happen if the question content was copied and pasted from Word a few years ago, before the Atto editor was created. The older TinyMCE editor didn't do a very good job of cleaning up content pasted from Word, so old questions often contain strange HTML markup. It only takes one bad question to break the export of the whole category.
    One way to fix this is to simply open and save the questions one by one in the question editor, but it is a tedious job. A better approach is to try and identify the bad question. Try exporting to XML instead, open it in a text editor, and inspect it for possible bad markup.
  • Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 6:12 AM
    Good day Eoin:
    I’m running in to an issue when attempting to convert images in an exported file. When I click on “Convert Images” I receive a dialogue box telling me that the “Image Conversion has been disabled to avoid Windows Defender issues”. Upon closing that box I receive another dialogue box telling me that

    Error(idp2212255520): This is not a valid file name.
    Try one or more of the following:
    *Check the path to make sure it was typed correctly
    *Select a file from the list of files and folders.

    I’m running Windows 10 and Office 2016 however our IT people have set up a virtual desktop for me running Windows 7 and Office 2010, we have the issue in both environments. In an attempt to resolve this issue I have determined through our IT department that we don’t use Windows Defender, it’s turned off entirely. Additionally I have enabled all macros in the Trust Center settings for Word both locally and on the virtual desktop to no avail.

    Have you see this issue before? Any thoughts on a work around?
  • Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 11:10 PM
    Hi Dwayne,
    If Windows Defender is switched off permanently, then you can use the older version of the Word template which still contains the code to convert image data back into images after exporting questions. To download the older template, you must register on the www.moodle2word.net website, and enrol in the "WordTable Conversion" course. Once enrolled, you can download and install "Moodle Question Word 2010 Template installer (v3.4) 250 KB Zip file (Updated: 2015-12-09)" (http://www.moodle2word.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=48). This might avoid the Error message.
    Note that if you are using Google Chrome, it may warn you about the download too.
  • Sat, Nov 18, 2017, 2:41 AM
    Thanks for this Eoin. Unfortuneatley it hasn’t solved the issue. I went in and removed the v3.6 template and installed the v3.4 template as per the installer directions. I went a step further and ensured that Windows Defender was fully disabled by using the local group policy and enabling the “Turn off Windows Defender Antivirus” app rather than just using the Security Centre settings. I receive the same notifications as noted above.

    Any other thoughts on what I could try?
  • Sat, Nov 18, 2017, 2:55 AM
    Hello Eoin:

    Okay, scratch the above, got this sorted. I had inadvertently downloaded the v3.4 template (Updated: 2016-08-23) rather than the one you had linked for me that was updated on 2015-12-09. I corrected my error and my files are now converting the images.

    Thank you so much for your help!
  • Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 12:34 AM
    Hello! Though the export and download see to happen just fine, I have been unable to open the resulting Word documents. It tells me the final "cannot be opened because there are problems with the contents" and "Microsoft Office cannot open this file because some parts are missing or invalid". Any ideas what is going on? I'm using Moodle 3.3 and my questions are either multiple choice or short anwer.
  • Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 12:50 AM
    Start Word and use File > Open to select and open the file. Double-clicking on the exported file might not work. Are you using a Windows or a Mac?
  • Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 4:50 AM
    I'm having issues with not being able to import and export the All-or-Nothing format of questions. When I try to import, I get the "Error(s) found parsing the import file. " message. If I select "don't stop on error" then I get "Error importing question Question type multichoiceset is not supported by XML import". The other question types seem to work fine. Is there anything you can do to help me? Thanks!
  • Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 7:38 AM
    The multichoiceset question type is not a part of core Moodle, you need to install the plugin. The default plugin is not compatible with the WordTable plugin, so you should instead install my compatible forked version from https://github.com/ecampbell/moodle-qtype_multichoiceset
  • Wed, Jan 31, 2018, 2:25 PM
    Hello,

    When I try to export the questions, the system shows that "Error, file not found".

    I have XSLT installed and configured.

    Any idea?

    Best Regards.
  • Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 5:06 AM
    First check that you can export the same question category as an XML file. If you can't, it may be because the category name contains characters not supported by the operating system as filename characters). If its OK, there may be something non-standard about where temporary Moodle files are stored in your configuration. Try importing the XML file to the test server www.moodle2word.net, and then exporting them to Word. If that works, it is definitely a configuration problem on your server.
  • Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 9:17 AM
    Hi Eoin,
    When I import the file, I get this error: 'Can not create file "5/user/draft/460998637/Picture1.dataimage;base64

    How to fix it?
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