Assessing Online

Shifting well-established offline assessments to online assessments is not an easy task. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for online assessment since every task is context-dependent. This is not surprising given that certain forms of assessment are more appropriate or acceptable when assessing the extent of student achievement across a range of course learning outcomes. We introduce some of the most commonly used online assessment tools in HKU Moodle and some tips for implementation. 

There are numbers of ways to assess students in Moodle, for example by using quizzes, discussion forums, written assignments, digital learning artefact, peer assessments, self-assessments, and reflection (Martin, Ritzhaupt, Kumar, & Budhrani, 2019). 


Quizzes are an effective way to assess whether students were reading, understanding, and learning course content. You can initiate quizzes at regular intervals to keep track of students progress.

Moodle Quiz support many a large variety of Question types, including multiple-choice, true-false, short answer and drag and drop images and text. These questions are kept in the Question bank and can be re-used in different quizzes.


You can set up time restriction for the quiz. Select the Quiz > Administration > Quiz administration > Edit settings > Timing

Randomized questions

You can also randomized questions. Select the Quiz > Administration > Quiz administration > Edit quiz > On the right you will notice a drop-down list called Add. Click on the list and then choose + a random question.

Shuffle the order of the question.

You can choose to shuffle the order of the question. This can make it harder for students to share answers, but it also makes it harder for students to discuss a particular question with you. Select the Quiz > Administration > Quiz administration > Edit quiz > select the Shuffle checkbox

Shuffle within questions

You can choose to shuffle within questions. This setting only applies to questions that have multiple parts such as multiple choice or matching. Select the Quiz > Administration > Quiz administration > Edit settings > Question behavior > Shuffle within questions

Browser security

In addition, add an extra restriction on attempts, for example, you may choose to enable “browser security” from navigating always from the quiz window. Select the Quiz > Administration > Quiz administration > Edit settings > Extra restrictions on attempts > select Full screen pop-up with some JavaScript security (Must remind student to allow pop-up on

Number of attempts

You can set the number of attempts allowed. Administration > Quiz administration > Edit settings > Grade > Attempts allowed

Penalty for incorrect attempts

If you allow multiple attempts, you can set the penalty for each incorrect try (%), hints and individual question feedback. Select the Quiz > Administration > Quiz administration > Question bank > Select the question you want to edit > Multiple tries > Penalty for each incorrect try.

Discussion forums

Discussion forums are good for collecting open responses and exchanges of ideas. They can provide evidence of students’ engagement with and understanding of course readings. Discussion threads can include posting of required responses to peers, sharing and commentary of resources or materials curated after searching or exploring a topic.

Moodle forum assessment options include:

Peer review 

You can enable a rating feature in the forum so that students can rank each other’s posted message. Select the Forum > Administration > Edit settings > Ratings

Activity completion

Setting criteria for contributing to a forum by marking the Forum activity as completed by using ‘Activity completion’ function. For example, students must contribute to a defined number of discussions. Select the Forum > Administration > Edit settings > Activity completion

Word count

The volume of forum post can be determined via displaying word count. Select the Forum > Administration > Edit settings > Attachments and word count > Display word count

Digital learning artefact

You can also ask students to create digital content to demonstrate their learning. If possible, students should choose their preferred technologies to create digital learning artefact. Video is one of the most commonly used media of digital learning artefact.

HKU VideoVox is an interactive video and content management platform, that allows presentation, interaction and discussion, for innovative learning and teaching opportunities. The key feature is it allows you to interact with videos by input comments, tag or questions, which then become time-stamped to that moment in the video. The time-stamped comments provide context between the video and the discussion thread.

Written assignments

For written assignments submitted as word or PDF documents, you can create a Turnitin Assignment. Turnitin offers ‘Originality Check’ on students’ work for proper citation or potential plagiarism. Please visit here to check out how to set up a Turnitin Assignment.


Assessment rubrics should be aligned to course learning outcomes. Students will know expected standards when given the task rubric in advance. You can also ask students to assess their peers using rubrics in the Moodle forum discussion, digital learning artefact, or written assignment. 


If you would like to conduct a synchronous online examination to replace a traditional proctored examination,  HKU has created an Online Examination System (OLEX) which enables teachers to upload an examination paper and make it accessible to students enrolled in their course at a scheduled exam timeslot. OLEX is secure and provides a platform for students to upload their answer papers and teachers to receive them in a WORD file. Students are reminded to watch out for the exam end time as the system will not remind them:


Martin, F., Ritzhaupt, A., Kumar, S., & Budhrani, K. (2019). Award-winning faculty online teaching practices: Course design, assessment and evaluation, and facilitation. The Internet and Higher Education,, 42, 34-43.