Question types in SPeCTRUM quiz module

Assessment of, for, & as learning can be achieved using the quiz module in SPeCTRUM. This is possible with the extensive question tools available and the useful feedback input in each of the question types.

There are currently 15 question types that is available for educators to choose from when designing their assessment. Out of this 15, only the Essay type needs manual marking, the other 14 is auto-marked by the system.

Question types ranges from the ever popular MCQ (multiple choice) or True/False, right down to more complex options like Calculated and Embedded answers. Questions can be also be set visually like Drag and drop into image.

Question selection window in SPeCTRUM

Each question have to be set by according to suitability and needs of the educator. It is encouraged that questions are varied and more than 1 type to be used in a single session. Using the auto-marked questions frees the educator from having to manually go into the system to review student answers.

The quiz could be made useful to benefit student learning. Educators should by as much as possible design the feedback input so that students can gain learning even when answering quizzes and exams online. The key to good and useful feedback is not to say ‘wrong, try again’ but to give explanation why the answer might be wrong and to encourage student to rethink their answers.

Example of a useful feedback, programmed into the questions

Let’s look at all the question type one by one. The text in this section is copied straight from Moodle documentation pages. Clicking on the question type heading will take you to the relevant page in Moodle guide. Youtube guide showing step-by-step instruction to set-up the question is also included.

The videos will come from multiple different sources from different learning institutions and may not be similar to our system. Don’t worry about it as the question interface will be the same.

Multiple Choice question

Moodle provides teachers with a lot of flexibility when creating this common question type. You can create single-answer and multiple-answer questions, include pictures, sound or other media in the question and/or answer options (by inserting HTML) and weight individual answers.

True/False question

A student is given only two choices for an answer in this kind of question: True or False. The question content can include an image or html code.

When feedback is enabled, the appropriate feedback message is shown to the student after the answer. For example, if the correct answer is “False”, but they answer “True” (getting it wrong) then the “True” feedback is shown.

Matching question

Matching questions have a content area and a list of names or statements which must be correctly matched against another list of names or statements. For example “Match the Capital with the Country” with the two lists “Canada, Italy, Japan” and “Ottawa, Rome, Tokyo”. In the Quiz Module, each match is equally weighted to contribute towards the grade for the total question.

Short answer question

In a short answer question, the student types in a word or phrase in response to a question (that may include a image). Answers may or may not be case sensitive. The answer could be a word or a phrase, but it must match one of your acceptable answers exactly. It’s a good idea to keep the required answer as short as possible to avoid missing a correct answer that’s phrased differently.

Numerical question

From the student perspective, a numerical question looks just like a short-answer question. The difference is that numerical answers are allowed to have an accepted error. This allows a fixed range of answers to be evaluated as one answer.
For example, if the answer is 30 with an accepted error of 5, then any number between 25 and 35 will be accepted as correct.


The essay question type provides the option of answering by uploading one or more files and/or entering text online. (For longer essays, text or file uploads, you may wish to consider using the Assignment activity rather than this question type.)
Essay questions are created in the same way as other quiz question types. The difference is that essay questions have to be marked manually, and the student will not get a final grade until the teacher has marked their essay.


Calculated questions offer a way to create individual numerical questions by the use of wildcards (i.e you can use common variables names as x , y enclosed in curly braces to create the wildcards {x} and {y}) that are substituted with random values when the quiz is taken.
For example, if you want to create a large number of “Calculate the area of a rectangle” problems to drill your students, you could create a question with two wildcards (i.e. {base}, {height} created from the common base, height variable names) and put in the “Correct Answer Formula=” input field {base} * {height} ( * being the multiplication sign ).

Calculated multichoice questions

Calculated multichoice questions are like multichoice questions with the additional property that the elements to select can include formula results from numeric values that are selected randomly from a set when the quiz is taken. They use the same wildcards than Calculated questions and their wildcards can be shared with other Calculated multichoice or regular Calculated questions.
The main difference is that text and the formula can be included in the answer choice as {=…}.

Simple calculated questions

Simple calculated questions offer a way to create individual numerical questions whose response is the result of a numerical formula which contain variable numerical values by the use of wildcards (i.e {x} , {y}) that are substituted with random values when the quiz is taken.
The simple calculated questions offers the most used features of the calculated question with a much simpler creation interface.

Drag and drop into text question

A drag and drop question type where missing words have to be dragged into gaps in a paragraph of text.

Drag and drop markers question

This question type allows students to drop markers onto an area on a background image. Drag and drop markers questions differ from Drag and drop onto image question type in that there are no predefined areas on the underlying image that are visible to the student.

Drag and drop onto image question

This question type allows students to drag words, images or both from a list and drop them into pre-defined gaps on a base image.

Embedded Answers (Cloze) question

Embedded answers (Cloze) questions consist of a passage of text (in Moodle format) that has various answers embedded within it, including multiple choice, short answers and numerical answers.
Until mid2013, there was no graphical interface to create these questions within your Moodle site – you needed to specify the question format using the text box or by importing them from external files.
However, the flexibility of the Cloze question type is hard to equal and despite the minor coding that you need to create the questions, it has great worth in the Moodle Quiz.

Random Short-Answer Matching question

From the student perspective, the Random Short-Answer Matching question looks just like a Matching question. The difference is that the sub-questions are drawn randomly from the Short Answer questions in the current category (including or not subcategories from the current category).
After an optional introduction, the respondent is presented with two or more sub-questions, each with a drop-down menu box opposite listing the same number (or fewer if several sub-questions have the same answer) of available answer options.
The respondent must select an answer option to match each sub-question.

Select missing words question

This is very similar to the Drag and drop into text question type, but uses drop-down menus in the text instead of drag-boxes. This works well where the question text is very long and you would have to scroll a lot to do drag and drop.

There might be better instructional videos available so just search in Youtube by typing Moodle + the question type you want, you should find plenty of other instructional videos than the ones listed here.

Hopefully this slightly longer post will help you to choose the right question types to be used for online assessment. Happy quizzing!

Recording attendance in an online class

When moving a class online, educators may be faced with a problem on how do they record and prove student attendance. The record may be needed to enable analysis of learning outcome attainment for each students so that intervention action can be targeted or simply so that compulsory attendance can be recorded.

Depending on the mode of the lessons being conducted, either synchronous or asynchronous, there are several useful applications that educators can use to fulfill their specific needs.

Synchronous session

Synchronous session means a class is conducted online in real-time using web meeting application like Google meet, Skype, Zoom, Webex etc. During this engagement session with students, the educator normally runs through their powerpoint presentation with the class, or simply having a discussion with the student about certain topic.

A simple method especially for a small group or class is by screen grabbing the participants of the class. However the drawback is it might only be feasible with small number of participants as the web meeting gallery layout could only fit so many pictures in one screen. Even when the participant list is listed such as in the Zoom application on the lower left of the figure below.

Among the applications that allows the educator to record attendance and gather feedback from students is Socrative. The video below shows how Socrative works.

The educators can use this application at any point of the online class to check on student understanding or to gather feedback. Since the educator can customise the setting requiring students to input their names before they could answer, this function can be used to record students attendance.

Other similar tool that can be used is Wooclap and Kahoot. While Wooclap is much similar to Socrative, Kahoot offers a more game based interaction for the students.

While the application is played live during the online class, the educator can share the result screen with the students, using the screen share function available in these web meeting apps.

In a larger event like conferences where attendance is not compulsory, do consider the use of audience response systems that requires audience to interact with questions posed by the educator. One such tool is Mentimeter.

The site even features a guide for online teaching that can be accessed HERE. The drawback of this application is that it could not record name.

Asynchronous session

In a non real-time setting, or normally called asynchronous session, there are other ways that the educator could employ to record students attendance. What ever method used, the principle is the same which is relying on the timestamp of the activities that could be recorded within SPeCTRUM or the university LMS.

Among activities that records timestamp in SPeCTRUM is Forum, Assignment submission, Database and Glossary.

Outside of the LMS, there are also applications that does a good job of recording student timestamp such as Edpuzzle. The educator can also set a time limit or a due date for an activity, that comes at the end of the asynchronous session. The idea is that since the students have to complete the activity at the prescribed due date or time limit, they could be considered to have attended the session because they have interacted with the activity the educator had prescribed.

Another application that is useful for capturing attendance is the Cloud Classroom app which won an endorsement from Unesco. This small application is free to use and was introduced to us in early March 2020.

Working from home

To us academics, we are quite used to work away from the faculty office. I always see colleagues working on their laptops in cafes, airports, middle of meeting, while listening to conferences an everywhere in between! However, something that could be new to some is having to conduct meetings and discussions online.

In this post, we will share a few useful tool that is available at our disposal to make the meetings more effective. Of course, we would want to make full use of the institutional licences that we have in the university so that the facilities will be fully utilised and we do not spend unnecessarily to purchase tools that we could use for free.

Google meet
With the ummail system based on gmail, there is 2 options available which is google hangout and google meet. The name of the app says it all. The google hangout is for people to hangout thus the application has less functionality. We will focus on google meet that is more robust with more functionality.

To create a google meet session see the video below.

The meeting link can then be shared with your colleague in either whatsapp or email. To see the settings available in the Google meet platform, watch the following video.

The video that is recorded from the session will be available to you from the ummail google drive after a few minutes of the meet, depending on how long the meeting lasts. Since we are on the enterprise licence, we can set the availability of the video so that we could restrict it to ummail users only.

What is also available, is the log of the chat record where you can use it to type in meeting notes for further action, like the video below.

The folder will be created in your google drive automatically. Wait for an email notification to come in through your ummail, saying that the recording and the chat transcript is available.

Teams Meeting

On the Microsoft Office 365 account, registered users with a pre-existing Teams can initiate a teams meeting quickly using the Meet now function. They could just click the Meet now button at the bottom of the Posts tab.

This is a useful function especially when everyone is already in the same account and are already logged-in into the Office 365 application. It enables the team to quickly shift from online chat to a web meeting. See the video below.

Teams meeting allows for the users to record the meeting session and can also record meeting notes and the meeting chats.

One of the useful feature in Teams meeting is the screen sharing function. You are able o share either the whole desktop, and application windows that is open or a single tab from your browser. The video below shows how it is done.

Inviting external parties is allowed to the Teams meeting but they will only be allowed into the meeting when a member of the teams admit the external party in. This is a security feature to make sure only those who are suppose to join, may join the meeting.

Hope this is useful for you, and have a productive Restricted Movement Order period ahead.

We will increase posting new guidance on using technology during this period. Please click the Follow button to get our latest updates.

Skype for business on office 365 for online class

Replacing a face to face class, hosting a web conference, appearing as viva panel, holding a research meeting. These are some of the ways you can use the Skype for business in your daily work.

To schedule and host an online contact session with students, the system allows educators to either share their screen or their application window so that the students can have access to the educator’s teaching resources as they hold the session.

The following is a series of short video to guide you on setting up, and hosting the online class with students. Great if you are away on conference and you don’t want to cancel class.

The first video will show you how to set up the Skype for business class or meeting. This will take you through the process of scheduling the session and to obtain and share the invite link.

In the second video, we show the Skype web application that is allows participants to join the call without having to login with their email credentials. Through the web app, only the name of participant is need to join the session.

I have used this feature to hold online class just now. The connection was good from my side and from the student’s side.

Skype for business online class. Students were requested to type in their name and matric number for attendance.

Using the Skype for business desktop app will allow you to do additional function, especially to record the session. The following video will teach you how you can record and manage the recording of the session. We also show the different screen sharing options that is available in Skype for business.

We hope the guidance we give will allow you to conduct the sessions successfully. Do drop us a comment below on how you are getting on, and other ideas to use Skype for Business.

Full eLearning mode during declared emergency.

The university has activated eLearning mode as a response to the severe air pollution that the country is facing currently. All face-to-face sessions are being suspended and substituted with online learning until further notice. This measure has an impact of limiting movement for students who may have to travel to classes and between classes thus limiting their exposure to the haze.

This blog post will serve as a guidance for educators and students to continue teaching and learning activity using SPeCTRUM and other online applications during the emergency.

Learning activities online can be done successfully within SPeCTRUM through the available activities modules. We would also encourage educators to use other Web 2.0 applications online as part of their online teaching strategy. Blending the use of both SPeCTRUM and suitable Web 2.0 tools will also alleviate pressure on the university network that suddenly have to handle the extra internet traffic during this period


Teaching can be delivered using synchronous media applications such as Youtube live stream, Facebook live video, Skype for Business or other web conferencing tools. As an alternative, you may also deliver an online lesson using your own pre-recording or a repurposed video from Youtube.

Guidance for Youtube live stream can be seen in the video below:-

Live streaming on Youtube

For Facebook live video, watch the following video:-

Facebook live video

The live stream from Facebook and Youtube may be made public or it could also be limited to selected audience depending on the settings. Do watch the videos provided and for guidance on how to do this.

Skype for business is another excellent way to host teaching session online with students. You can use the existing institutional office 365 account to schedule a Skype session using calendar and share the Skype meeting link with students so that they could join the Skype.

Skype for business allows up to 250 participants to join a single session so the should not be a problem in getting all your students to participate.

Pre-recording of videos or screen casting

If you prefer to pre-record teaching video so that students can watch them later, there are several free screen casting application that you could install as chrome browser extension. Among the ones that we liked are Loom and Screencastify.


Interaction with students and between students may be achieved via SPeCTRUM Chat and Forum functions, or for a more interactive session, using Dropbox Paper, Word online, or Google docs. The following videos will show you the way to set up and use these features.

Dropbox paper

Word online and Google docs share the same functionality and allows simultaneous editing that is useful for monitoring co authoring documents online as can be seen in the following video.

Co-authoring in word online


Assessment functionality in SPeCTRUM includes the Assignment, Quiz, Workshop and Turnitin module that could be deployed in the 100% eLearning mode. The Interactive Content activity is also available for student assessment.

In eLearning mode, Interaction and Assessment activities can be designed and used as proof for student attendance. The use of web2.0 applications for learning is encouraged but please index it in your SPeCTRUM page so that students have a one-stop-centre to obtain the learning materials.

Lecturers are advised to communicate their eLearning plans with students and the department, to make sure support can be put in-place. Please inform the students especially, the Learning Outcome (LO) to be achieved for the eLearning substitution.

Microcredentials on MOOC platforms


Micro-credential: certification of learning of a smaller set of courses or modules or units which are designed to provide learners with knowledge, skills, values and competencies in a narrow area of study and/or practice. 

MOOC: massive open online courses. a course of study that is made available over the internet and that can be followed by a large number of people. 

APEL: accreditation of prior experiential learning. identification, documentation and assessment of prior experiential learning to determine the extent to which an individual has achieved the desired learning outcomes, for access to a programme of study and/or award of credits 


Micro-credentials are mini qualifications often gained by participating in short, free or low-cost online courses. These smaller blocks of learning can formalise soft and hard skills attained at work, such as teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving. They can also help fill skill gaps, such as working with big data.  

Employees may consider them more advantageous than unaccredited and inhouse training which, while popular with employers, fail to offer formal recognition of learning that can enhance an individual’s career development. 

MC can be characterised as a buffet of several courses that is short and specific on a number of topics that is relevant to each other. A compilation of these courses can be grouped to achieve a wider skillset or count towards a number of credits for a university course. 

As an example, a learner can enrol for several level of language course and at the end of the program will receive a mastery certification on the language. 

Micro-credential courses  A ‘program’ certification
Introduction to Malay language Mastery of Malay language
Malay language intermediate
Malay language advanced
Malay language writing for academic

Or, the transfer of 3 academic credits that can form part of a postgraduate degree at an HEI. The following example is a current micro-credentialling program that is running on the Futurelearn platform by Purdue University. 

Micro-credential courses  A ‘program’ certification 
Digital Media Analytics:
Digital Media Analytics 
Digital Media Analytics:
Social Media Research Plans 
Digital Media Analytics:
Using Data from Owned Media 
Digital Media Analytics: Earned Media 
Digital Media Analytics: Paid Media 
Digital Media Analytics: Using ‘Listening Data’ 

A learner can enroll and study just relevant aspects from the MC course without completing the program. A learner can also opt to pay or not to pay for some or all of the certificates in the MC list.  

To achieve the credits required for the university course, an assessment element could be added at the end of all the programs certification framework.  

Nationally, MQA has issued a circular dated 6 May 2019 titled ‘Surat Makluman MQA Bil. 2/2019’ and with it an accompanying document ‘Panduan Pelaksanaan Program Micro-Credential (MC)’ that provides a guideline on the principles and good practices in the implementation of micro-credentials. 

The listed principles in the MQA guidelines are contained in section 5, and they are listed here:- 

  • Outcome-based 

Micro-credentials should articulate the overall MC and constituent module outcomes i.e., knowledge, skills, attitudes or competencies clearly and in a measurable manner. The attainment of the outcomes should be demonstrated through suitable assessment methods and reported in a user-friendly manner. 

  • Personalised 

To the extent possible, the providers must design MCs which allow the learners to select units/modules/courses that cater to their needs, interests and work within the context of the overall objectives and approval of the MC. The mode of delivery, the pace of learning and assessment methods should be appropriately personalised for optimal learning. 

  • On-demand/industry driven 

Micro-credentials should be designed and delivered in response to demands of the learners or employers or industries for shorter and focused skill-sets, knowledge and technologies which are required for upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to be ready for the 4th industrial revolution or personal development. Engagement with industries and employers is crucial to ensure currency, relevancy and value of the MC. 

  • Secure and shareable 

The MCs should ideally be based on technologies that preserve the identity of the learners and protect the certifications from misuse or alterations to ensure user trust. The MCs should be shareable across social media platforms via email, blogs and resumes. 

  • Transparent 

The providers of MCs should furnish complete information on the units/modules/courses in a readable and easily accessible form covering course objectives, outcomes (knowledge, skills and attitudes), mode of delivery, hours of learning (if applicable), content, assessments, credits etc. to the learners and other authorised users for purposes of evaluation and recognition. 

  • Naming the Micro-credentials 

MCs offered by any HEPs should be appropriately named based on the purpose, delivery, content, assessment and scope. The titles should not in any way conflict with any qualification titles stipulated in the Malaysian Qualifications Framework 

The recognition of MC under this guideline can be in the form of a) Credit Transfer or b) APEL.  

At the EU level, a Common Microcredential Framework (CMF) was launched during the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) Summit in April 2019. The five points framework detailed the requirement for microcredential courses so that its capable or earning academic credit. They are listed below:- 

  • Have a total study time of no less than 100 hours and no more than 150 hours, including revision for, and completion of, the Summative Assessment. 
  • Be levelled at Level 6 or Level 7 in the European Qualification Framework or the equivalent levels in the university’s national qualification framework. 
  • Provide a summative assessment that enables the award of academic credit, either directly following successful completion of a microcredential or via recognition of priorlearning upon enrolment as a student on the university’s course of study. 
  • Operate a reliable method of ID verification at the point of assessment that complies with the university’s policies and/or is widely adopted across the platforms authorisedto use the CMF. 
  • Provide a transcript that sets out the learning outcomes for a microcredential, total study hours required, EQF level and number of credit points earned. 

Australian AQF is seriously looking at the issue of MC in its review and the publication in September 2019 will likely mention MC as part of the framework going forward. 

Potential of MC for UM: 

An MC program can be designed as a feeder to entry for a specific postgraduate course at the university. This has been done before at FOM where the course Essentials in Public Health was designed to equip the incoming postgraduate students which comes from overseas settings on the context of Malaysian healthcare system prior to join the Master program.   

Another option is to team up with relevant institution and offer a program certificate on a topic. This idea was floated by ADeC during the early stages of MOOC development. The university becomes the academic centre with the credibility to offer certification needed by the partner institution for upskilling purpose.  

As an example, Faculty of Languages could collaborate with Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia and offer a micro-credential program with certification on TV subtitling. Another idea example is a collaboration with professional bodies for example Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia and Faculty of Built Environment, and to offer certification program that will form part of a CPD requirement for building professionals. 


As part of the strategic move forward for the university, micro-credentialling will likely have a place in the offering of skills development that UM could be an active player in. The potential for collaboration is great, given our central location and our standings. The leveraging of existing MOAs will be key as well as opening up of new collaboration network. 


Letter from MQA dated 6 May 2019 titled ‘Surat Makluman MQA Bil. 2/2019’ And the accompanying document ‘Panduan Pelaksanaan Program Micro-Credential (MC)’

Digital Credentialing: Implications of Recognition Across Borders. UNESCO, 2018

SPeCTRUM V3 – Handling parallel courses with group settings

There might be small number of cases where a course with a single code being taught in parallel by different departments of different educators. The necessity for this type of courses may be due to a different language of instruction or different academic departments teaching their own set of students.

The SPeCTRUM LMS is equipped to handle this situation when and where it arises.

Overview of differentiated groups in parallel courses

Courses should be set-up with ‘Flexible sections format’ in the Course format and ‘Separate groups’ selected in the group mode, as shown in the following video.

From there, groups can be created and assigned to specific section within the shared SPeCTRUM page.
Students who belonged to a specific group/section will only be to access resources and activities within their section only. Other sections will be unavailable to them as shown in the following screenshot.

The students who belonged to ‘Jabatan A’ will only have access to the ‘Sumber Umum’ and ‘Jabatan A’ Section and all resources and activities there.

Separating course materials

When the Flexible section course format is used, educators can add subsections like they normally have done in the old platform. What’s better, the Section could be collapsed so that what the students sees within the platform is just the educators resources and activities only.
The video below shows the collapsed section in action.

The important thing is, once a Section is locked to a specific group, only members of that group will have access to it.