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Question formats: Microsoft Word table format (wordtable)

qformat_wordtable
Maintained by Picture of Eoin Campbell Eoin 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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Moodle 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 3.0, 3.1

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.

Screenshots

Screenshot #0

Contributors

Picture of Eoin Campbell
Eoin Campbell (Lead maintainer)
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  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 9:51 PM
    You can select a category containing a lot of questions (either directly within the category, or distributed across a number of subcategories), and export the questions to Word format. Then open the Word file and save in Word 2010 (.docx) format, and try importing it. If it works, open the file again, select and copy all the questions, go to the bottom of the file and paste them in again, save the file with a new name, and try importing the new file. Keep doubling the number of questions until the import fails, and you will have a fair idea of the limits. I imported 1800 questions in 1 file, but they didn't contain any images. Images will have a big impact, because most Moodle servers limit the maximum file size for upload to 8MB or less. 10 questions that include images may not upload at all due to this limitation.
  • Picture of Dwayne Giesbrecht
    Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 11:40 PM
    Good day Eoin:

    I've run into a small hiccup and I'm hoping that you can point me in the right direction to solve the issue. Our organization is in the process of transitioning from our old LMS (LXR) to Moodle. As a result I’m working on the conversion of our LXR question banks to Moodle banks. I’m not a programmer but I know an individual, also not a programmer, who has some experience with building macros for Microsoft Word. He has developed a macro that will convert my LXR .txt exports into a Word Table format that visually matches the online templates. Unfortunately when I attempt to import the newly created Word Table into Moodle I receive the following error notification:

    "There are no questions in the import file."

    Any help would be greatly appreicated


  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Tue, Sep 1, 2015, 12:07 AM
    Hi Dwayne,
    I checked the Word file you sent by email and responded, but you may not have received it.
    Here is my answer again:

    The structure of each table looks correct.
    However, the table cells must also comply with the styles used to format
    the question components. If you download and install the Word template at
    http://www.moodle2word.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=29, and use it to create
    sample questions, you will notice that the table for each question contains cells
    for the question type, grades for each answer, fields like default mark, labels
    for each field, etc. The text in each cell has a particular style such as "QF Type", "Table Row Head",
    etc. The heading rows are also marked using the "Repeat Header Rows" marker in the Table Layout ribbon.

    In addition, there are custom properties in the Word file that you can view using the command
    File > Properties > Advanced Properties (Custom tab group).
    All of these styles and custom properties are essential to the conversion process, so you cannot
    simply create a Word file with tables that look similar.

    If the LXR files are in XML or text format, The Word macro language (VBA)
    might not necessarily be the best language to use to convert the files.
    If you send me a sample LXR file, I could take a look and see if I can do
    anything for you.
  • Picture of Ali Ozer
    Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 3:47 AM
    Thank you Eoin quickly responding to our feature requests. It works beautifully now.
  • Picture of Darren Besanko
    Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 6:12 AM

    If anyone can help, its my first time to try and upload form Word and it comes with:

    importpreprocess:92: Word file = Pre-sales Questions_Automation Systems_DB.docx; path = /home/nhp/moodledata/temp/questionimport/Pre-sales Questions_Automation Systems_DB.docx
    •line 92 of /question/format/wordtable/format.php: call to debugging()
    •line 114 of /question/import.php: call to qformat_wordtable->importpreprocess()

    importpreprocess:116: XSLT not installed
    •line 116 of /question/format/wordtable/format.php: call to debugging()
    •line 114 of /question/import.php: call to qformat_wordtable->importpreprocess()
  • Picture of Darren Besanko
    Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 6:56 AM
    Hi all... I am using this import for this first time, and come with these errors. Any clues? Thank you,

    importpreprocess:92: Word file = Pre-sales Questions_Automation Systems_DB.docx; path = /home/nhp/moodledata/temp/questionimport/Pre-sales Questions_Automation Systems_DB.docx
    •line 92 of /question/format/wordtable/format.php: call to debugging()
    •line 114 of /question/import.php: call to qformat_wordtable->importpreprocess()

    importpreprocess:116: XSLT not installed
    •line 116 of /question/format/wordtable/format.php: call to debugging()
    •line 114 of /question/import.php: call to qformat_wordtable->importpreprocess()
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 9:04 PM
    Hi Darren, your problem is that the PHP XSLT extension is not installed
    (cf. "importpreprocess:116: XSLT not installed").

    Read the section "Pre-requisites" on the WordTable plugins page [1] for
    instructions on how to fix this.

    Links:
    ------
    [1] https://moodle.org/plugins/view.php?plugin=qformat_wordtable
  • Picture of Darren Besanko
    Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 12:21 PM
    Eoin, thanks for your message. We have installed this now, but there's even a longer message. Is there a way I can email you that directly?
    It seems to be largely around format and debugging....
  • Picture of Priyanka Sinha
    Sun, Nov 29, 2015, 3:33 PM
    Hi Eoin,
    I have received many files from my data provider which have equations typed in Math Type equation editor. These equations are not getting imported. Do you have any suggestions/word arounds for this?
    Thanks,
    Priyanka
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 5:05 AM
    The way to support MathType equations is to first convert them into images, then import the images back into the Word file, and then import the Word file. You will first need to download the latest version of the Moodle2Word Word template (version 3.4) from http://www.moodle2word.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=15.
    See the screencast at http://www.moodle2word.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=22 (login required) for a demonstration.
  • Picture of Roger Saffle
    Wed, Dec 16, 2015, 9:32 AM
    i upgraded the pluggin just fine. My question is how do i remove the 3.11 template from word and import the 3.4 into word startup. I open the new docm but word still has the 3.11 template
  • Picture of Narayan Balasubramanian
    Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 10:46 PM
    Hi Eoin,
    The documentation mentions that there is support for equations written using Microsoft Equation Editor.
    "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".
    I imported a file with some questions containing equations created using the Microsoft Equation Editor 3.0, but the questions are rendered without the equations. I have enabled MathJax in Moodle. Is there anything else that I need to do?
    Thanks.
    Narayan
  • Picture of Narayan Balasubramanian
    Fri, Feb 5, 2016, 1:37 PM
    Hi Eoin,

    Thanks a lot for your support via email to help resolve my problem.

    I am summarizing the resolution below for everyone's benefit:
    a) Instead of using the external Equation 3.0 plugin, we should use the native equation editor present in Word 2007 and Word 2010.
    b) On the moodle server, go to MathJax settings on Administration > Site administration > Plugins > Filters > MathJax
    The field "Additional equation delimiters" should be set to " c) If you encounter a vertical line after the rendered equation, in the Plugin settings for Mathjax, change MathJax directory from 2.5-latest to 2.6-latest in MathJax URL.
    d) Firefox works perfectly after all this. In Chrome, there seems to be a problem only the Atto Question Editor where the equation is not rendered properly. The preview and question rendering seems to be fine. Could be a Chrome browser specific issue or may need to research the Atto Editor code for this.

    Thanks.
    Narayan
  • Picture of Rishi Singhal
    Wed, Jun 22, 2016, 12:38 AM
    Hi,

    The equation gets rendered properly by the MathJax plugin but the problem i see is the equation editor is not able to show the equation. Due to this editing the equation becomes a problem. Any suggestions on this?

    Thanks,
    Rishi
  • Picture of Eoin Campbell
    Wed, Jun 22, 2016, 2:02 AM
    You need a plugin that can edit MathML within Moodle directly, or else you need to edit the equation in Word and re-import it. This page might help you: https://docs.moodle.org/29/en/Mathematics
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