Creating Quizzes with Kindle & Moodle


Normally I don't like giving quizzes for readings--especially at the graduate level. Seems kind of busy workish. And yet, for in-class discussion, it's critical to make sure that folks are doing their reading. While I know that students need to be responsible for their reading and work, I also know that I have a responsibility to emphasis certain points. Having not given or used quizzes for some time, I have decided to give it another shot in the Moodle environment. This way, we don't burn up class time, students can use their texts to review and prepare, and the impact on the grade is somewhat limited.

Honestly, I'm not sure how well this will turn out--pedagogically speaking. One thing I have learned, though, is that I must question almost all of my practices and beliefs iteratively. By this, I do not mean questioning everything I believe and do all at once; doing that would implode gz and no one would win. Instead, I try to cycle through different practices, locate assumptions, and take a run at modifying, retrying, or changing an approach. So, I'm back at quizzes.

At core, I am a rhetorician, and I highly value context and kairos. Quizzes are not inherently bad--they are just deployed poorly. My goal is to see if I can deploy them well and in a way that supports student learning and engagement.

Using Kindle & Moodle

Tech used: Kindle Fire; University-hosted instance of Moodle 2.5

What I Do

1. Read material. Review content.

2. Read material again in Kindle. Highlight key passages/wording in a color not used for other purposes.

3. Open up desktop or laptop--be sure it has a Kindle reader. 

4. Pull up Kindle window, go to book, and select "My Notes & Marks"; all of my highlighting is visible.

5. Open up text editor. Paste in all raw quiz material (including page numbers and/or locations).

6. Save. Formulate questions 

7. Open up Moodle.

8. Enter relatively simple questions.

9. Learn Moodle.

We'll see how well it goes.

Image source:

Quick Review: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better by Rachel Aaron

Improving Literacy Skills: Yes!

I am a sucker for books that promise to increase my reading or writing speed. As an academic and a bibliophile, few things increase my pleasure than reading and writing at increased speeds. However, I'm smart enough that I don't want authors wasting my time or trying to instill some silly or impractical framework on my style. Many books I have bought and read about improving performance in these areas, but few have hit the spot. In fact, they usually do little for me. 

On Finding Rachel's Book

I rarely buy books on reading or writing faster unless I find them at Goodwill for a fraction of the price. I will buy a book, though, if it comes recommended from a reliable source. While considering Josh Earl's e-book Sub[ime Productivity, I found a post where Josh mentioned Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. I figured if Josh is willing to suggest the book and openly acknowledges that he modifies Rachel's approach for fiction to his own work with non-fiction, it's worth a listen. This is doubly true because Josh appears to be quite transparent about his writing and publishing process as well as his earnings. These moves increase my trust and respect.

To Rachel's book: increasing writing speed. One phrase summary: proper preparation and focus. Yep, that's it. At its core, that is Rachel's secret. And I already knew that secret (which is actually not a secret). However, Rachel's honest voice, up front delivery, easy reading and writing all work to frame and deliver a message which is truly invaluable. And it's just 99 cents.


My takeaways for adapting Rachel's suggestions for preparing for academic writing: 

  • increase preparation by gathering sources more thoroughly;
  • increase framing by placing sources & assertions about sources explicitly;
  • reduce friction by having outcomes/statements/findings clearly developed before writing;
  • invest seriously in the prep.

My takeaways for adapting her suggestions re: writing process for academics:

  • make the boring stuff exciting or cut it;
  • find new and better ways of summarizing material;
  • if I'm bored the reader will be dead bored;
  • cut. all. boring. stuff.

Buy It

At 99 cents, this book is a steal. Frankly, Rachel should probably price this at $2.99. It is easily worth the money. And thanks, Josh, for the suggestion!