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:

Scribd's Unlimited Readings

I have used since 2007 or 2008 if I recall correctly. Scribd has long provided me with access to texts--mostly academic and scholarly press books--that were neither at my library or within my budget. Scribd was a saving grace for me during my doctoral course work as well as through the initial parts of preparing for my exams. One of Scribd's best uses, though, was it's search. While it's search tool at the top is weak--really, we can't sort out publishers?--the way it presents related titles and materials is as friendly, if not more friendly, than shelf browsing.

Around 2011 or so, my love for Scribd declined. Probably had a lot to do with my shifting focus. Scribd, though, has become much more commercial, and there are many, many more money making methods to Scribd. What annoyed me was how, at one point, my ability to read and download docs was limited: I had to either pay a monthly fee or upload material. So I uploaded some useless docs, downloaded what I needed, and left. I do not like feeling compelled to pay for what is presented as a free service. From what I can tell, that policy seems to have changed.

Either way, there is a lot more of BUY on Scribd. Buy books. Buy articles. And now there is unlimited reading. 

I don't really need to rent or buy books for my pleasure reading. That's covered. Okay, I would probably read more steam punk and Neal Stephenson with a subscription, but most the stuff that I want is from Safari, Blackwell, and IGI. You know, those $150 books nobody can buy--I want to read articles there. From what I can tell, only a few of these presses have material available. So, bleh.

Hot presses, like O'Reilly, seem to only sell their books and offer a few freebies. Obviously, they don't want to compete with their own online library. Why sell for $9 a month on Scribd when they can get a couple hundred/year on through Safari?

So, here I sit, wondering whether the new toy is worth it. Of course Scribd offers a 30 day free trial, but that means at least 4-5 months before I remember to shut it off if I am not using it. 

Are you an academic? Are you using Scribd? If so, how and why? Or why not?