Activities: Hot Question

Maintained by Picture of AL Rachels AL Rachels
Help teachers to collect questions from students in or out of classroom
377 sites
20 fans
Moodle 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6

The first Moodle activity for a physical classroom. The idea comes from Purdue University's hotseat.

Some possible uses:

  • Students can post questions in "real" time during a face-to-face class.
  • Students can post questions 24/7 in a course.
  • Can be used as a "Suggestion Box" in a course.
  • Can  be used for student analysis of any kind of data placed in the description.
  • Can  be used for student analysis of a video placed in the description.
  • Can be used for quick polls.

Inside or outside a classroom, students can post into this activity from any device which can access the Moodle site. Students 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 student entries, with an approval setting for each individual entry.

Some new items in this version:

  • 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.

Other recently added new capabilities:

  • 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.

General capabilities:

  • Site admin, teacher, or manager can delete 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.



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Picture of AL Rachels
AL Rachels (Lead maintainer)
Picture of Zhigang Sun
Zhigang Sun: Original author
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  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Thu, 31 Mar 2016, 12:57 AM
    Just posted new pictures with comments of the new release.
  • Picture of Frankle Lee 李智高
    Thu, 31 Mar 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Thu, 31 Mar 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Sun, 3 Apr 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Sun, 17 Apr 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Sat, 8 Oct 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."
  • Picture of Kieren Moore
    Wed, 10 May 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?
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Wed, 10 May 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Wed, 17 May 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.
  • Picture of Kieren Moore
    Wed, 17 May 2017, 11:20 PM
    Thank you, I'll take a look after we upgrade.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Tue, 27 Jun 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Tue, 26 Dec 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.
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Tue, 5 Jun 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.
  • Picture of stefan weber
    Fri, 8 Jun 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 "+"
  • Picture of AL Rachels
    Fri, 8 Jun 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.
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