Getting quiz creation right: a tip for WordPress eLearning plugins

WordPress elearning plugins

If you've visited my site before, you know I love the latest generation of WordPress eLearning plugins. They're doing things in an easy and less expensive way than the systems from ten and twenty years ago.

And yes, computer-based training and learning online is really that old. I know; I built some of the first online educational systems in 1996.

These days there are three plugins I regularly tell people about:

Each of them offer an ability to create and deliver a quiz to your students.

You can also use a quiz add-on from Gravity Forms, if you have the right license.

But there's a problem

Here's the challenge. Each of those plugins treat quizzes as a major component of the learning management system (LMS), just like they treat courses.

Now, there's nothing wrong with treating courses and quizzes as important – until you realize that the decision to do so also means you're not treating the questions as their own important component.

One of the more successful products I've built at Emphasys Software (my day job) is an online questionnaire that cities use to put low income families on waiting lists to move into subsidized housing.

This system treats the collection of questions (what you might consider a quiz) as a secondary component. More important to us are the questions themselves.

Why? Because the questions are used over and over. Across several different cities. And even in a single city, over several different years.

So the assembly of questions is secondary. The quiz itself is secondary.

Instead, the questions are critical (as we fine tune them over time to make them more effective) and (of course) the answers are critical.

How does this apply to eLearning?

When you create a course, and you want to run a quiz, the reality in many situations is that you actually want a randomized quiz. By that I mean, a quiz that has a selection of random questions from a larger collection (a pool, if you will) of questions.

If you think about it, what you want to do (and what I did in one of our earliest systems back in the mid-90's) is to tag different questions with the competency that they're testing for. In this way, a quiz can be constructed by pulling random questions from each competency.

And that way, if you change a question, or introduce a new question, you do it in one place, not in every single questionnaire you've created.

Do any of the WordPress eLearning plugins support this yet?

No. Not yet.

But that's why I'm drawing attention to the issue. Because in the long run, this is one of those features that will demonstrate that we've moved past the need for Moodle-like solutions and are able to fully use WordPress for eLearning.

And this way, when I talk to my plugin developing friends, I can point them back to this article. You know what will help me? All your comments telling them how you use quizzes in your eLearning sites – so let me know (below in the comments).